Volume 38 Number 51
Produced: Wed Feb  5  5:48:40 US/Eastern 2003

Subjects Discussed In This Issue:

G-d, Ha-Shem
[Ira L. Jacobson]
Hashem
[Bernard Raab]
The intimacy of God
[Jay F Shachter]
Transliteration
[Leah S. Gordon]
Writing G-d (2)
[Ben Katz, Shayna Kravetz]
Writing "G-d"
[Art Werschulz]

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From: Ira L. Jacobson <laser@...>
Date: Tue, 04 Feb 2003 15:59:52 +0200
Subject: Re: G-d, Ha-Shem

Shayna Kravetz stated:
>Indeed, I too often set apart the 'heh ha-y'diah' and other prefixes. (I

Yehonatan Chipman stated:
>I always write "Ha-Shem" with a hyphen, not out of piety (it
>never even occurred to me that could be a reason), but to separate the
>definite article from the noun.

I understand the use of the hyphen in English and the use of the hyphen
in Hebrew.  I am unaware of any rule in either language that calls for
adding it in the midst of a word, nor am I aware of the existence of a
rule that indicates that one may transliterate as he sees fit and at
variance with standard practice.

I should appreciate learning more about the rules with which I am unfamiliar.

[The rule on mail-jewish is that one may transliterate in what ever
manner one feels most comfortable in. I will rarely, if ever, use
editorial powers to change transliterations. I include the use of -,'
and capitalization as aids in transliteration. Mod.]

IRA L. JACOBSON
mailto:<laser@...>

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From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Wed, 29 Jan 2003 10:13:51 -0500
Subject: Re: Hashem

From: Shayna Kravetz:
> I have now seen texts in which the Hebrew word "hashem" (lit.,
> "the name") is written with a blank or a split-something for which there
> is absolutely no necessity since "hashem" is itself a way to avoid the
> use of the sheimot.<<

Some years ago I predicted to my son that one day we will see the use of
"Kashem" for Hashem. It seems to be happening!

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From: Jay F Shachter <jay@...>
Date: Tue, 4 Feb 2003 09:31:56 -0600 (CST)
Subject: The intimacy of God

In mail.jewish v38n48 someone wrote:
> Another point to consider is that of familiarity, a trait sadly lost in
> English. In most European languagues and Hebrew, a person of a higher
> status such as one's father, mother, boss, rabbi and the Deity would (or
> used to) be refered to either in the second person plural (Vous instead
> of Tu in French, Sie instead of Du in German) or in the third person
> singular ('would father let us do this or that' -when talking directly
> to him).  Thus also in writing we desist from fami[li]arity by writing G-d.

In languages that make the distinction, God is always addressed in the
familiar form.  God is not distant from us, and he is not indifferent to
us.  Certainly we revere and even fear Him, but our relationship with
Him is nevertheless an intimate one -- more intimate that with our
closest friend or lover, because God knows our innermost thoughts, even
better than we do ourselves.  God is "tu", not "vous", in French, and
even the Russians, who are much more cautious about using their familiar
forms than are the French, address God as "ti", not as "vi".

In Genesis 18:28, for example, in any French bible you can find, Avraham
says, "feras-tu, pour cinq, prir toute la ville?" -- even though just
one verse earlier, he had said, "moi qui suis poussire et cendre".
There is no contradiction between these two verses.

The reason English prayerbooks address God as "Thou" is not that it is
the unfamiliar form.  On the contrary: "thou", "thee", "thy", "thine",
are all the familiar forms of the pronoun.  No one can understand
Shakespear who does not know that.  The familiar forms eventually gave
way to the unfamiliar forms, as Englishmen gradually started treating
everyone with distant politeness.  The Society of Friends, also known as
the Quakers, made a point of addressing one another with the familiar
forms (and perhaps still do), to emphasize that they see one another as
friends, not as strangers.

There is a line is "Man and Superman", by George Bernard Shaw, where
Juan says to Ana, "Your relationship to God is sacred and holy -- dare
you call it personally friendly?".  That kind of rhetorical question is
peculiar to English-speaking people, who seem to suffer from an
inability to feel reverent and intimate at the same time.  Other
languages have forms for expressing familiar respect.  In Yiddish, for
example, you can use the title "Reb" followed by a man's first name,
thus expressing respect and familiarity simultaneously.  And Yiddish
speakers know that God is "Tatenyu", to Whom we can pour out our hearts
in the most intimate terms.

Jay F. ("Yaakov") Shachter
6424 N Whipple St, Chicago IL  60645-4111
(1-773)7613784
<jay@...>, http://m5.chi.il.us

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From: Leah S. Gordon <leah@...>
Date: Sat, 1 Feb 2003 19:36:31 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Transliteration

Is it possible that the two camps of opinion on transliteration are
coming from these distinct points of view--

1. The group who wants the x for chet and so forth--may be thinking of
transliteration as a means for easy back-and-forth changing from
one language to another so that it can be undone with a one-to-one
matching.  E.g. if you don't have a Hebrew typewriter but you need
to translate a document?  This point of view requires an
since most applications are scholaraly.

2. The second point of view is that transliterations are so that
someone fluent in one language can read words from another
language.  In this case, the prime directive is to make phonemes
recognizable--and it really doesn't matter if the reader in English
(who doesn't know Hebrew well, perhaps) is unaware of which Hebrew
letter made that sound.  After all, if s/he did discern letters so
well, s/he might be reading the text in Hebrew in the first place.

If one is of the first camp, then every Hebrew->English
transliteration should be identical, no matter what the audience.  If
in the second, then there should indeed be different transliterations
for speakers of British English, American English, etc.  (Or even
regional variations in those countries.)

Surely there is room for both kinds of transliterations?

--Leah S. Gordon

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From: Ben Katz <bkatz@...>
Date: Tue, 4 Feb 2003 10:36:34 -0600 (CST)
Subject: Re: Writing G-d

>From: Daniel Wells <wells@...>
>Another point to consider is that of familiarity, a trait sadly lost in
>English. In most European languagues and Hebrew, a person of a higher
>status such as one's father, mother, boss, rabbi and the Deity would (or
>used to) be refered to either in the second person plural (Vous instead
>of Tu in French, Sie instead of Du in German) or in the third person
>singular ('would father let us do this or that' -when talking directly
>to him).  Thus also in writing we desist from famiarity by writing G-d.

I have always been amazed that Yiddish, unlike German, does not
have a polite form.  On even addressed one's parent with the familiar
second person, not the third person.

>A third point is that the word god is also used by pagan deities. So to
>differentiate we write G-d. In the same vein when reading the Chumash,
>its usual to say Elokim instead of Elohim, but when reading in the same
>Chumash the passage about the mortal lords we would of course say
>Elohim.

So why wouldn't God vs god be good enough to disttinguish teh
Almighty from pagan deities, just as elohim vs elokim is good enough in
Hebrew.

It is the word in Hebrew (YHVH) which had some mystical
connotation and this gets "translated" (improperly in my view) into
English; it is not the concept of YHVH only, but the word itself which
is holy in some way.  An interesting proof of the reverance that the
name YHVH had for the ancients is that in some of the Dead Sea Scrolls,
YHVH is written in the more-ancient paleo-Hebrew script, rather than in
the square script we use today.

Ben Z. Katz, M.D.
Children's Memorial Hospital, Division of Infectious Diseases
2300 Children's Plaza, Box # 20, Chicago, IL 60614
Ph. 773-880-4187, Fax 773-880-8226, Voicemail and Pager: 3034
e-mail: <bkatz@...>

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From: Shayna Kravetz <skravetz@...>
Date: Wed, 29 Jan 2003 09:45:02 -0400
Subject: Re: Writing G-d

I wrote:
>> its referent is haQadosh baruch hu. But striking out the 'o' doesn't
>> change the referent. The concept that we call to mind when we read the
>> word "G-d" is the same as the one called up by "God".

and Daniel Wells replied:>
>But its not a referent as yet accepted by the world.
>
>It's as if I would write 'G created the world'. We all know that in this
>sentence G refers to the Almighty but it would not be found in any
>dictionary and as such irreverent disposal of the above sentence would be
>much less objectionable.

Actually, I find this much more problematic. The assumption that "we all
know" that G equals God because of the context in which it appears is, I
fear, unjustified. If this practice became common enough that G did
equal God to most readers, then we have the same problem as before.

>Another point to consider is that of familiarity, a trait sadly lost in
>English. In most European languagues and Hebrew, a person of a higher
>status such as one's father, mother, boss, rabbi and the Deity would (or
>used to) be refered to either in the second person plural (Vous instead of
>Tu in French, Sie instead of Du in German) or in the third person singular
>('would father let us do this or that' -when talking directly to him).
>Thus also in writing we desist from familarity by writing G-d.

I completely fail to understand why G-d is less familiar, in this sense
of presumed intimacy (as opposed to recognizability based on prior
observations), than God. What matters in English is the capital. To take
Daniel's example above, the child asking about the parent in the third
person should write it as, "Would Father [note the capital!] let us do
this or that?"

(By the way, in North America at least, referring to someone actually
present by the third person is considered rude and is emphatically not a
sign of respect -- a pattern that differs from many other
cultures. Think of Esther addressing Ahashverosh when speaking to him
directly, for example - "if it seems good to the king...")

>A third point is that the word god is also used by pagan deities. So to
>differentiate we write G-d. In the same vein when reading the Chumash, its
>usual to say Elokim instead of Elohim, but when reading in the same
>Chumash the passage about the mortal lords we would of course say Elohim.

In English orthographic convention, particularity is also shown by
capitalization. Thus, "God" is distinct from "god" because the former
refers to a specific entity, not just the abstract concept or a single
example from a panoply of choices. This is also why place names and
personal names are capitalized in English and why for example, in my
humble opinion, it is appropriate to capitalize "Jesus" as referring to
a specific human being (real or fictional is another question!). It
would not be appropriate to refer to him as "Christ" because the latter
is not a name but a title meaning "messiah" in Greek and capitalizing it
would be the equivalent of designating that human being as the Messiah
-- a designation that I assume MJ readers agree would be incorrect <g>.

So (to round all this up into a single sentence) when discussing the
concept of god, we should distinguish between God and other so-called
gods.

Kol tuv.
Shayna

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From: Art Werschulz <agw@...>
Date: Tue, 4 Feb 2003 11:45:20 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Writing "G-d"

Hi.

Let me add a "practical" (non-halachic) viewpoint to the discussion.
The string "G-d", when used in a word-processor document or a web page,
can lead to a new problem: a linebreak at the hyphen.

Let me explain how this complicates my life, as a shul webmaster.  Our
hazzan likes to use "G-d" in his monthly bulletin articles.  When I move
an article containing same to the shul's website, it causes no end of
trouble.  Unfortunately, HTML doesn't seem to have anything equivalent
to the TeX \hbox construct.  AFAICT, the only way I could really
guarantee no linebreak at the hyphen would be to put a <BR> token before
each instance of same, the results of which wouldn't look particularly
good.  Outside of that, there's no tinkering that one can do to
guarantee that the bad linebreak won't happen.  In particular ...

(1) There are several browsers that visitors can use, and I can't
anticipate every one of them.

(2) Even if I decide to "optimize" on a particular browser, the
visitor may have decided to override the web page's fonts with
those of his own choice.

Sof sof: I've convinced him to let me use either "Gd" or "G@d".  The
first is definitely not problematic.  The second looks a bit like the
word it's trying to replace, and hasn't seemed to cause any linebreak
problems so far (but there might be a perverse browser out there
somewhere).

On the hyphenation of "Ha-Shem" ... I have also seen it written as
"HaShem", which emphasizes the heh ha-y'diah.  What drives *me* nuts is
"Hash-m", "H-shem", or "H-sh-m", which I have seen here and there.

Art Werschulz
GCS/M (GAT): d? -p+ c++ l u+(-) e--- m* s n+ h f g+ w+ t++ r- y?
Internet: <agw@...><a href="http://www.cs.columbia.edu/~agw/">WWW</a>
ATTnet:   Columbia U. (212) 939-7061, Fordham U. (212) 636-6325

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End of Volume 38 Issue 51