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QUESTION

Riverdale, NY

Can I assign blackout poetry assignment for my chumash students to use the Torah text for their blackout poems — issues of blacking out God’s name. Do I just ensure the initial document is not sheimot? It would be black marker over printed paper so כתב על גבי כתב. I assume with English “God” vs. “G-d” is not nearly as big a deal as having אלהים.

ANSWER

Independent of the status of sheimot, the actual act of blacking our Gods name is deeply problematic religiously and could be an act of מחיקת השם (sheimot is at most that by grama). If you did G-d then I don’t think it would be a technical problem but it still feels deeply disturbing. At the end of the day this is a far cry from שמי שנכתב בקדושה ימחה על המים לעשות שלום לכל העולם כולו (Sukkah 53b). (And yes, I do know that here it wasn’t נכתב בקדושה.)


FOLLOW-UP QUESTION

I wonder whether this could be done using different highlight colors, maybe a bright yellow and a darker purple to create the desired effect without the downside of erasing Torah?

ANSWER

That would definitely be ok.