Careful Phrasing

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December 31 2007

The Talmud teaches (Nedarim 10a) that one who is committing a sacrifice to G-d should state the word “korban” first, rather than starting with G-d’s Name, out of concern that he will become interrupted in the middle, and thus only have stated G-d’s Name, without completing the thought, and the Name would have been invoked in vain. This passage provokes the question of how much is it necessary to say to together with the Name tp avoid the prohibition G-d’s Name in vain. For example, R. Natan Gestetner (Responsa L’Horot Natan, VII, 6) considers the question of one who has the practice of reciting the vidui every day before tachnun. If one begins this process, starting with G-d’s Name, and then learns that it is a day when tachnun is not recited, is there a need to continue any further? R. Gestetner suggests that there are two factor, either of which can negate the prohibition: a) if a complete thought is stated; b) if the Name is uttered as a prayer or supplication. Accordingly, he rules that the individual who begins the vidui can stop at that point without any violation, as the Name was uttered for the purposes of a supplication, even though it was aborted. Possibly related to the above is the custom to respond to the greeting “Shalom Aleichem” with the phrase inverted as “Aleichem Shalom”. A number of possible reasons for this have been suggested; another possible reason is quoted in the name of the Sefer Ge’ulat Yisrael. halom is one type of Divine Name. Therefore, one should be careful not to begin a phrase with this word, as the Talmud recommends (Nedarim 10b), for fear it will not be completed and God’s name will be uttered in vain. Therefore, aleikhem shalom is a more appropriate response than its inverse. The initiator, however, can use the phrase shalom aleikhem with confidence he will finish, as the Talmud states: “He who precedes his friend in offering his greeting, his life and peace are increased.” (See also Razin D’Orayta, p. 4, and Ta’amei Mitzvot of R. Menachem Rikanti.)


Collections: Rabbi Feldman Mini Shiur (Daf)

References: Shabbat: 10a Nedarim: 10a  

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