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words that cant be erased

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Rabbi David Sperling

Iyyar 28, 5782
Question
which types of hebrew words Can be written, erased, and thrown away? for instance, can I write refuah sheleima on a band aid? Can it be rinsed away in water? Which words cannot be erased? thanks
Answer
Shalom, Thank you for your question. There are two types of writing that should not be erased. The first are the names of G-d. Any text that has the names of G-d written in full (and not in a shortened or abbreviated form) may not be erased or thrown away. The second type of text that needs to be treated with respect are Torah texts – this includes verses of the Torah or any Torah text, such as copies of the Talmud and Siddur. There are major issues with exactly how to dispose of these texts – in the past they were buried with respect, but in todays world with the vast amount of photocopying etc, in many cases we rely on opinions that allow for placing the texts inside a bag (or perhaps 2 bags) and then putting it in the garbage. None of these texts should be rinsed away in water. Writing “Refuah Shelaima” (a complete healing) may be written on a band-aid, and then it may be thrown away. These words are not a holy text, nor do they contain G-d’s name. (Although I have never heard of such a practice – and it certainly isn’t normative. I imagine you want to do this for a child to make them feel better – or write it on a plaster cast as decoration etc). Blessings
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