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Question about names of idols


Rabbi Yoel Lieberman

Shevat 23, 5776
Shalom dear Rabbi, there are many names of brands and products that have the name of an idol in them, such as Zeus, Hercules, Eros, Hermes, Nike, Krishna, an internet site called "Joke-Buddha" How should we deal with such products? Are we allowed to pronounce their names? In the case of the Greek idols, it seems that people today do not worship them, but in case of the Hindu/Buddhist names, there are people who worship those idols. Is it proper to buy such a product? It would mean that there is something in ones cupboard that bears one of those names. Sometimes the nature/designation of the product has to with the name of the idol, for example a "Hercules" airp lane that is supposed to be especially powerful, or a delivery services called "Hermes" that prides itself on it’s capabilities in delivering items. A different question, but maybe related: There are places like the city St.Paul or St.Pauls Cathedral in London. On the one hand, those are the official names of places (and it seems there is no other name for them), yet on the other hand, it seems that in the naming of the place there was an element of agreement with the religion this came from (christianity and catholicism), because only according to catholicism could there be such a designation (the "santification" of Paul). Is it preferable to avoid saying the names of such places if possible? Thank you!!
ב"ה Shalom I have based my answer on the responsa of Rav Menashe Klein zt"l , Mishne Hakachot (Vol. 9, #169). When these various names belong to an idol worship which no longer exists, there is no prohibition in pronouncing their names. In addition, when a certain name originated as a regular name and then the bearer of this name became an idol, the name may be used because it did not originate as an idol's name. Furthermore, Rav Klein zt"l says since certain names are given to people and places even if these names are shared by idol worship, the names may be pronounced, since these people's names and these places were not called so for the sake of idol worship. Using their names is for a need and purpose of identification not for idol worship. And so in the questions you raised, the products were never made or used for Avoda Zara, their names may be Nonetheless, Rav Klein says that although these names may be uttered, if they are a bit distorted, it is all for the better. All the best.
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