Praying in English – God’s Name

I say the prayers in English because I’m too unfamiliar with Hebrew. Can I use the terms “God” and “Lord” for God’s name – as my prayer-book shows? Or are they not accurate translations

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

English terms like God and Lord are not true names of God and do not truly and accurately translate the Hebrew words for His name. Thus, it’s proper that even when you pray in English that you say God’s name in Hebrew. The main terms used are “Ado-nai” – which implies God’s infinity and mastery over all, and “Elo-him” (or “Elo-hainu”) – which describes God as all-powerful and the One who controls the entire universe. Note that these names should not be pronounced except during prayer or when quoting complete verses in the Hebrew.

It’s a good idea to buy the ArtScroll Hebrew-English siddur. (See here for buying choices.) It not only has a very accurate translation, but it can be used to help you slowly transition to praying in Hebrew. (Note that ArtScroll recommends saying God's primary Name in Hebrew, as Ado-nai, but uses “God” for the other names.)

See this article for further explanations of God’s names.

(Source: Teshuvot V'Hanhagot by R' M. Sternbuch, I 128.)

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