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May one name a secular object using a Divine Name?

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Once upon a time, I was on a trip up in north Georgia and stumbled across this gem: a security service branding itself as "Adonai Security, LLC."

"Know that you are secure"

The tagline proceeds to make a pun in the same vein: "Know that you are secure in the hands of Adonai."1

In a similar vein I once passed by this street in Memphis, named "Yahweh Rd."

Let's say that an orthodox Jew was the one asked to name this street, or that the security firm was owned by a group of Jews.2 Would an observant Jew be allowed to name something completely unrelated to any religion3 using one of the Divine Names, or would this constitute usage of the Name in vain or a desecration thereof?

  1. As far as I am aware, I am allowed to write out this Name explicitly, even according those who are careful not to write out English variants on Divine Names, because it is being used in the context of a secular being, namely a security firm. I don't see a distinction between this usage and the myriad times the word אלהים appears in the Bible to refer to idols.

  2. I'm sure that when I was visiting Blue Ridge my family was the only group of Jews anywhere in the city, and even calling it a city is generous.

  3. To the exclusion of naming a religious group J's Witnesses, where the usage of their transliteration of the Divine Name is meant to refer to Hashem, not to their group.

Why should this post be closed?

7 comments

In a similar vein, when I was young, I encountered a video game [can't remember it's name] where one of the enemies named "Elohim". Is playing this game is heresy? ‭Alaychem‭ 18 days ago

@Alaychem "Elohim" also means "judges" so.......maybe not? ‭Harel13‭ 18 days ago

@Harel13 It does mean judges, that's exactly my point, see answer ‭Alaychem‭ 17 days ago

@Alaychem shameless self-promoting, I see...;D ‭Harel13‭ 17 days ago

A related issue - some Jews have a problem saying the name J*sus, but in some cultures it's a popular given name. ‭Aliza‭ 16 days ago

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1 answer

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As you said, the word "Elohim" and "Adonai", even if written in Hebrew, can have secular status.

רש"י בראשית יח פסוק ג

ויאמר אדני אם נא וגו' - לגדול שבהם אמר וקראם כולם אדונים ... הוא יעמדו חבריו עמו ובלשון זה הוא חול (שבועות לה) ד"א קודש הוא...

Rashi Bereshit 18:3

ויאמר אדני אם נא וגו - To the most important of them he said so, and called them "Adonim" [masters]... and to this explanation it's [the word Adoni in the verse] is secular, and some say it's holy [to different explanation]

רש"י בראשית לא נג

אלהי אברהם - קדש
ואלהי נחור - חול
אלהי אביהם - חול

Rashi Bereshit 31:53

Elohi [God] of Avraham - holy
Elohi [God] of Nachor - secular
Elohi [God] of their fathers - secular

"Yahweh" might be different, since it's a name and not a title.

6 comments

That’s fine that these words have secular connotations, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that you can use the word for whatever you want. ‭DonielF‭ 18 days ago

@DonielF "Adoni" with the meaning of "my masters" can't be used for whatever you want? ‭Alaychem‭ 17 days ago

In the context of the security agency, that’s clearly not the intention they’re going for. ‭DonielF‭ 17 days ago

@DonielF As long as their agency does not employ God as a security guard, who cares what they think? For you it's just a name. ‭Alaychem‭ 16 days ago

I'm not asking whether you can pronounce the name of the security firm; I already addressed that in the footnotes in my question. My question is whether an orthodox Jew can theoretically use a Divine Name in naming something. You're raising sources that discuss preexisting secular meanings of words identical to Divine Names; you haven't proven that one can use a Name in a new secular context. ‭DonielF‭ 16 days ago

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