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Halachos of Reading the Shem Hashem

Adapted from a shiur by Rav Chaim Weg on Parshas Shemos

(:זה שמי לעלם וזה זכרי לדור דור (שמות ה


According to Pesachim 50a, the word לעלם is written without the vav to show that the Shem HaMeforash (YKVK) is not pronounced, and the word זכרי refers to how we read the Shem, as Ad- nai, the Shem Adnus.  

Does reading the Shem Adnus have the halachic status of having read the Shem Hameforash, or do we not read the Shem HaMeforash at all, and the Shem Adnus is simply a replacement? There are two nafka minas for this:

  • If a baal korei read Hashem’s name without looking inside at the word (which is usually required).
  • If wax drips from an old chandelier and falls on the Shem Hashem.


This question is subject to a machlokes:

  • Brisker Rav (Shemos here and in Devarim 4) – It is considered reading the actual Shem, and it must be read inside, and the Torah is pasul if it is covered.
    • Although the Rambam cites a machlokes whether one is chayav for cursing Hashem using the Shem Adnus, both opinions agree with his approach.
  • Igros Moshe – it is a machlokes rishonim whether one must read the Shem


Must a regular case of kri/kesiv be read inside in the Torah?

  • Brisker Rav above and Pri MEgadim (O.C. 141) – No
  • Igros Moshe (and possibly Mishna Berura, who doesn’t cite the above Pri Megadim) – Yes


Is the word  אהיה  considered one of the Shemos Hashem?

  • Shulchan Aruch – Cites two opinions as to whether it is or not.
  • Onkelos (according to Emes L’yaakov) – Seems to hold it is kodesh
  • Targum cited by Ramban – Seems to hold it is not kodesh


Is the word אשר within the phrase אהיה אשר אהיה also kodesh?

  • Onkelos – Seems it is
  • Gra (according to the sefer Mishchas Shemen) – No


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