Ask the Rabbi - Basic Concepts

Birkat HaShem

What is the basic halakhah about the prohibition of birkat HaShem? What makes one liable according to its basic definition?

Details:Does a person have to say the Hebrew name of God to break this law according to its basic form? I’ve heard the euphemism “let Yose strike Yose” and some have said that the “Yose” to whom harm is being pronounced must be the Hebrew special name of God to break the law. Yet I’ve heard others interpret Sanhedrin 56a and Rambam Mishneh Torah, Law of Kings, 9:3, to say that a person can curse God in a different language or using a nickname/attributive name, not mentioning the special Hebrew name at all, and also be liable. But then I’ve seen others use the same texts and say that only cursing the special Hebrew name of God makes one liable and the only difference between Jews and Gentiles is that a Jew is only liable if he says something like “let Yose strike Yose” (with Yose signifying the special Hebrew name or the name that starts with Ado-) where as a Gentile is also liable if he says “let [an attributive name/nickname] strike Yose” but for this a Jew is not liable.

Which is the correct way of thinking?

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