The Name of God

Ever since an oral traditions class during my undergrad years and since watching the movie π, I have been fascinated with the Jewish protocols surrounding the name of God. So far as I can tell, Jews are not allowed to destroy or deface any of the divine names once they are written. There is no prohibition against writing the names in the first place, but it is always possible that the script might get damaged or destroyed or defaced later (purposefully or accidentally).

Why bring this up here? In reading Silvio Gaggi’s From Text to Hypertext this morning, I learned that Jewish church leaders recently decided that this prohibition against destroying the name only applies to permanent forms of writing. Hence, the computer and word processor do not qualify.

It was decided that files containing the names of God or backspacing over the name or cutting and pasting it are not the same as defacing a hard copy. The essence of the computer is too impermanent to cause ill will with the deity, it seems.


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