Shabbat Parashat Noach | 5763
Ask the Rabbi
Question: An amud was donated to our shul. May the name of the donor be written above Hashem’s Name (in the pasuk “Shiviti Hashem l’negdi tamid”)?
Answer: We have several sources in Chazal that indicate that Hashem’s Name should normally be before other names. The gemara (Sukka 5a) states that on the tzitz (the headplate of the kohen gadol, which contained the inscription, kadosh la’Hashem”), the Name of Hashem was elevated above “kadosh la.” This was done out of respect to the Name. This idea was even clear to non-Jews. The rabbis who wrote the original Septuagint, started the text with Hashem’s Name, not with the word, “Bereishit” (Megilla 9a). Tosafot (ad loc.) explains that since the Greeks understood that it is proper that G-d’s Name appear first, they would have thought that there were two deities, Bereishit and Elokim. Why, in fact, isn’t Hashem’s name mentioned first there and elsewhere?The last mishna of Masechet Yadayim records the criticism of the Tzedukim of the fact that the name of the king (in context of the date) in the get before the mention of Moshe. The Rabbis responded that in the sefer Torah, we find the name of Paroh before Hashem’s. Commentaries (see Tiferet Yisrael, ad loc.) understand that when there is a specific need to write another name first, this can be done without it being a disgrace to Hashem. In the case of the get and the sefer Torah the need is a matter of textual content. Although it would have made more sense to have Hashem’s Name after the words, “kodesh la” on the tztitz, there was apparently a special sensitivity to the matter of the order on the most holy element of the kohen gadol’s garments.Therefore, normally the name of the donor should be under the pasuk, which contains Hashem’s Name. (The content does not seem to be adversely affected by having the name of the donor on the bottom. However, there could be exceptions). One would be where the writing is relatively high, and if the pasuk would be on the top, it would be difficult for the chazan to see it. (See Aseh L’cha Rav IV, 44.4, where he explains the importance of this pasuk, which reminds he who is praying that the image of Hashem’s Presence should always be before him).
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