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  • Halacha

Discarding papers or files with G-d’s name


Rabbi Jonathan Blass

12 Adar I 5763
Hello, can you tell me how to discard papers that have G-d’s name (written out in some form) on them? We receive junk mail from charities, birthday cards, newspapers, magazines, etc. that have this printed or handwritten. What is my responsibility to look through mail, newspapers, or magazines for G-d’s name to ensure that I am not discarding it incorrectly? Do I need to search through every page even if I don’t want to read that page? And what about electronic files? Can I delete emails, and letters, memos, reports, or web pages that contain G-d’s name spelled out?
One can rely on the poskim who permit erasing the word 'G-d' fully spelled (Shach Yoreh Deah 179,11; Mishna Berura 85,10) not to have to check all your mail and newspapers before discarding them. If, however, you see G-d's name in English written in a Jewish context, you should wrap the paper separately in a plastic bag before disposing of the paper so as not to denigrate G-d's name. You are allowed to delete files and e-mails with G-d's name in them (see Shu”t Iggrot Moshe Yoreh Deah I 172-173). Divrei Torah should be put in the 'geniza' - the place in the shul set aside for divrei Torah that are no longer being read.
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