Saying God’s Name in Vain

June 29, 2018 | by Rabbi Pinchas Waldman

In my country, people invoke the name of God often in ordinary conversation. They say such things as: “OMG! That is so expensive!” “For God’s sake, please forgive me!” “Thank God, I am well.” If God wants, I will buy this car.” “God, please save me from illness.” It there anything wrong with invoking God’s name so casually?

The Aish Rabbi Replies

Overall, it’s actually very nice that people in your area include God in their lives so regularly! It’s a great way to recognize that God is in fact involved in every aspect of our lives.

In terms of the overuse, we may not utter any of God’s Hebrew names in vain, even respectfully. God’s name in other languages has no intrinsic sanctity, and may by the letter of the law be erased or thrown out. However, since it is a word designated to refer exclusively to God, it attains a level of sanctity as well. Thus, we should not say God’s name needlessly or in the bathroom.

Therefore, taking your examples above, the first two examples are unnecessary invocations of God’s name and should be avoided. The others are expressions of gratitude or prayer and are fine.

See also this past response about God’s name in writing.

(Sources: Shulchan Aruch HaRav 85:3, Mishna Berurah 85:10.)

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