How to say Hashem’s name when in reference to deities, such as in the words “Elokim Acheirim”:

How to say Hashem’s name when in reference to other gods, such as in the words “Elokim Acheirim”:

From the letter of the law, it is permitted to recite the actual name “Elohim” when in reference to deities and not to Hashem, such as in the words “Elohim Acheirim.”[1] Furthermore, many are accustomed to specifically say “Elohim Acheirim” in reference to other gods, to emphasize that it is not Hashem and does not deserve the respect given towards Hashem’s name.[2] Thus we find in many publications, and printings, that although when Elokim is in reference to Hashem it is written with a Kuf, the words “Elohim Acheirim” are written with a Hei. On the other hand, the Rebbe was accustomed to recite the words “Elokim Acheirim” with a Kuf, and explained that this is the common practice.[3] The reason for this is because if one says “Elo-him Acheirim”, it may appear to others as a belittlement of Hashem’s name.[4] Also, perhaps it is said so one not come to belittle a name that has true reference to Hashem. Practically, this matter is dependent on custom, and each community is to abide by their custom in this matter. A stated, the custom of the Rebbe, and accordingly the Chabad custom, is to say Elokim Acheirim.

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[1] Implication of Rebbe in Likkutei Sichos 24:453; So is ruled regarding the name Tzeva-os that since it is also used for mundane purposes, it may be said as Tzevaos. Certainly, then this would apply to the name Elokim when it is used for a deity: See Sheivet Halevy 9/217; Kinyan Torah 3/110; Mishneh Halachos 13/198; Rebbe in Mamar “Vayehi Baetzem Hayom Hazeh” printed in Hisvadyos 1983 2/850 that the custom is to say Tzeva-os. See also Halichos Shlomo 22 footnote 32; Piskeiy Teshuvos 215/12

[2] So is accustomed in many circles of Litvish and Polish Jewry, and so has been taught throughout many Chadarim throughout the world. [See Hiskashrus 785 p. 19]

[3] Likkutei Sichos 24:453

[4] The Rebbe ibid cites the Ramban on Devarim 21:22 regarding hanging a Cananite that it should not be done being it can be viewed as a belittlement of Hashem. This implies that one should avoid saying the name Elo-him even when in reference to a deity, being that people will mistake it for a belittlement of Hashem’s name.

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