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Religion IN BRIEF

Rabbi OKs Deleting 'God' on Computers

January 02, 1999|Associated Press

BNEI BRAK, Israel — A leading Orthodox rabbi has ruled that the word "God" may be erased from a computer screen or disk, because the pixels do not constitute real letters.

According to Jewish law, printed matter with the word God, Elohim in Hebrew, or its manifestations in any other language must be treated with respect--stored or ritually buried when no longer needed.

Rabbi Moshe Shaul Klein issued his ruling in response to a question from a reader who was anxious about whether the ban on simply erasing the word "God" applied to computers. He published his ruling this week in a computer magazine aimed at Orthodox Jews, Mahsheva Tova.

The rabbi, prominent in ultra-Orthodox circles in the Tel Aviv suburb of Bnei Brak, ruled that the letters may be erased.

"The letters on a computer screen are an assemblage of pixels, dots of light, what have you," the rabbi's assistant, Yossef Hayad said Tuesday.

"Even when you save it to disk, it's not like you're throwing anything more than a sequence of ones and zeros," Hayad said.

The existence of the magazine--a pun that means both "Good Computer" and "Worthy Thinking"--reflects the growing incursion of modern implements into the world of the ultra-Orthodox.

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