“יהוה” Translated from Hebrew: YHWH – meaning “the Almighty” from the Hebrew Bible
Note: The Hebrew word for the Almighty has great religious significance, and it is considered sacrilegious by certain sects of the Jewish faith to use this written form outside of religious texts.
In Clause 5.g of The Committee for the Review of Offensive Domain Names:
Work Procedures, it has been determined that:
“The Committee’s decisions will be received through a majority.
The decision to reject a domain name for registration must be based on a majority vote.”
In the absence of a majority vote to reject the domain name – the domain name יהוה.co.il has been approved.
Mr. Hank Nussbacher –
Chairperson of the Committee for the Review of Offensive Domain Names
of the Israel Internet Association
The Committee Members’ comments:
Prof. Michael Birnhack:
- The committee has the authority to approve a domain name, or to reject a domain name on the basis that the requested domain name may be damaging to public policy or considered vulgar or offensive to public sentiments, or such names which are in violation of Israeli Law, as defined in Clause 7.3 of the Domain Registration Rules.
- I am certain that the Committee member’s discernment when applying such authority should be similar to that of the Administrative Authority, from a judicial perspective. This means that when interpreting the clause and applying its meaning to real-world situations, the Committee’s considerations include reviewing contemporary values related to the specific topic, and, if needed, strike a balance between the two, while ensuring a reasonable and proportionate decision. Exercising judgement must be done while taking into consideration the technological material, as well as the meaning of registering a domain name from an aspect of accessibility to the website to be operated under that particular domain name, etc.. Examination of the questioned domain name should integrate similar or prior experiences from other places around the world, while assimilating these experiences into the local culture, the local Internet scene, and relating to, where applicable, global access to the Internet, especially when concerning domains written in English ending with the Israeli .IL extension.
- This specific example is not related to the category of “vulgar words or expressions”; additionally, nothing in Israeli law prohibits the use of the abovementioned word. The potential use for such a domain, if indeed it will be uploaded on to the Internet, must obey the law, however it is not under the Committee’s or ISOC – IL’s authority, rather the Law Enforcement’s and Judicial System’s authority, to ensure use of the domain is in accordance with the law. It is impossible and there is no jurisdiction to predetermine that the present domain name, which has been presented to the Committee, indicates any potentially unlawful use.
- I am willing, for argument’s sake, to presume that use of the domain name (YHWH), as a domain name in and of itself (regardless of the website’s content) , may be perceived as offensive due to the notion that use of this name is disrespectful or not in accordance with Jewish Religious Law. Despite this, in order to reach the website under this domain, if it is in fact operated under this domain, the web user will need to actively search the domain (meaning to type the domain name in the search box), and since the name itself is not offensive, and this name (YHWH) is available on the Internet under a variety of lawful applications, which are legitimate and desirable, as well as being included in the Old Testament, I am of the opinion that the level of offensiveness which may be caused is minimal, and doesn’t violate the “public tolerance threshold”. When weighing in the extent of offensiveness and this hypothesis (the availability of the word YHWH and the public tolerance threshold), versus the rights of the requestor, who has fulfilled the registration criteria, it is apparent that the latter holds the stronger case.
- I suggest approval of the request, and allow register of the abovementioned domain name.
Boaz Okon Judge (Ret.)
The name in its complete form appears in any Internet search (including Wikipedia). When it has been determined, in principle, that the goals for use of a particular website are not relevant to the decision of whether or not to approve the website’s domain name, it’s difficult to see why use of any particular name as a domain name presents a problem. Since this domain name appears in web searches anyway, the use of this name (YHWH) as a domain name doesn’t intensify the level of offensiveness enough to justify rejection of the request. Under these circumstances, I agree with Prof. Michael Birnhack’s explanations.
I propose to reject the request and not permit a website to bear the domain YHWH. My reasons are such:
The letters Y-H-W-H serve as the private name of the Lord of Israel, and are considered the holiest name in the Jewish Culture. If the website owners wish to speak in the name of the Almighty, or about the Almighty, the website owners may choose another of many other names, such as the Lord, god, the Almighty, etc.). In my opinion, YHWH needs to be and should remain a name which is solely written in the Bible, printed in the verses of the Bible, and nowhere else. I cannot, and I do not, want it to be forbidden by law to write the letters YHWH for individual use (for example, on walls within homes or even in (secular) books). However, the Internet is considered the public sphere. The State of Israel does not have a street or city named YHWH, so it seems reasonable that there should not be a website bearing this name.
There are two main issues here:
- Does Jewish religious law permit using the name YHWH on the computer?
- Do the laws of the state and the Hebrew religious law permit using the YHWH in the public sphere?
Regarding the typing of the letters YHWH, most Bible scholars permit doing so on the computer.
Regarding erasing of the Almighty’s name- there are various viewpoints- with some claiming that YHWH can indeed be erased while others are of the opinion that it can be erased but only after an alteration has been made to the original name, thus resulting in the person not actually erasing the original name. Based on the various answers I have found, there is no religious prohibition for writing or erasing the Almighty’s name. Regarding the legality of using the name and letters YHWH publicly, (for example) the Corporation Code forbids using the name YHWH as the name of a company or association, as it may be offensive to public policy or sentiment. A domain name may be advertised on billboards, a common media used to advertise websites. In the High Court of Justice court case 124/70 (1971) -Cochvi Shemesh and Meir Bekel –vs- the Israeli Corporations Authority, the plaintiffs requested to register a company named “The Western Wall Movies (Sertei HaKotel) Ltd.”, and the Israeli Corporation Authority denied the request stating: ” By the power of the authority that has been transferred to the jurisdiction of the Registrar, I would like to inform that, according to Clause 14, it will not be possible to register the company under this name. The reason for this response is that this name shows disrespect for the national religious values of the people of Israel and is offensive to the public sentiment, or at least offensive to certain sectors.” The High Court of Justice approved the rejection. In my opinion, we can rely on the Israeli Corporations Authority’s and Association Authority’s regulations to reject the domain name proposal due to the fact that (use of YHWH) “may offend public policy or sentiments”. If a name such as “The Western Wall Movies Ltd.” is deemed offensive, then surely use of the divine’s name (YHWH) as a domain name is considered offensive one hundred-fold. Therefore I vote against approval of YHWH.co.il as a domain name.
Two of the Committee members are in favor of approving the domain name YHWH.co.il, while two members reject this domain name. Therefore, according to the regulations stated above, the request for the domain יהוה .co.il is approved.