Books, notebooks, and papers

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Books

  1. It’s forbidden to cut or rip pages of a book that were not properly cut through in binding. [1]
  2. If pages were stuck together by glue or some or material (like water) then it depends; if the pages are stuck in a place of letters it’s forbidden to pull them apart because in doing so one breaks the letters, however, if the pages are stuck in a place of no letters it’s permissible to pull the pages apart. [2]

Writing on the Side of Books

  1. Many poskim hold that it is permitted to open a book on Shabbat even though it has letters or pictures on the side of the pages of the book; if, however, there is another similar book available without letters on the side, one should use that one. Also, it’s preferable not to write on the sides of books in order to avoid this issue. [3]

Broken books

  1. If a page is torn in a book it’s permissible to place the two half pages next to one another in order to read it, if there no other copy of the same book is available, however, one may not tape the two pieces together. [4]
  2. One may not sort loose pages that fell out of a broken book in a particular order unless one intends to read them immediately. [5] See the Borer page for more details.

Notebooks

  1. If a notebook is empty it’s muktzeh. If it is partially filled, and the pages of content have some importance and one sometimes reads them, then, the notebook is not Muktzeh and one may turn the blank pages in order to reach the pages of content. However, if the pages of content aren’t of importance and one doesn’t read them, then the notebook as a whole is Muktzeh and should not be moved. [6]

Loose-leaf binders

  1. It’s permissible to open and close the rings of a loose-leaf binder. [7]
  2. A loose leaf binder that contains commercial documents, building plans, account documents, passports, or identity certificates is considered Muktzeh and shouldn’t be moved. [8]
  3. Blank pieces of paper are Muktzeh. [9] If a loose-leaf binder has pages with content together with blank pages, and the pages of content have some importance and one sometimes reads them, then, the binder is not Muktzeh and one may turn the blank pages in order to reach the pages of content. However, if the pages of content aren’t of importance and one doesn’t read them, then the binder as a whole is Muktzeh and should be moved. [10]

Index cards

  1. It’s permissible to remove an index card from an index if one plans on using that card immediately. If unintentionally, the wrong card was removed, no transgression was incurred. [11]
  2. If one has removed a (single) card, it’s permissible to find a place in the index to replace it. [12]

Loose papers

  1. One may not sort loose pages that fell out of a broken book in a particular order. [13]

Post-it

See Practical Applications of Tofer

Putting Books on the Shelf

see Putting books back on Shelf on Borer page

Related Pages

Reading on Shabbat

Sources

  1. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 28:1
  2. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 28:1
  3. Birkei Yosef 340:5, Leviat Chen 120, Sh"t Tzitz Eliezer 13:44, Vayesh Moshe 1:65, Mishna Berura 340:17.
    • The Levush 340:4 writes that it is a Torah violation to open or close a book with words stamped on the sides of the pages. He maintains that opening the book is erasing because the letters are broken, and then closing the book again is writing because the letters are reformed. Magen Avraham 340:6 and Chazon Ish 61:1 are machmir for this Levush.
    • The Rama in a teshuva (119), however, is lenient based on the Gemara Shabbat (104b) that says that there is a biblical prohibition if a person writes one letter in Tiveriya and one in Tzipori because it is not considered lacking a significant action to bring them together. The Rama infers that moving letters closer to or further from one another is not considered writing or erasing. Similarly, opening the book doesn’t erase the letters, but merely separates the parts of the letters, and closing the book doesn’t write the letters, but just combines the halves.
    • The Avnei Neizer 210:1-3 rejects this proof. He argues that separating two letters isn’t considered erasing because the letters still exist, but splitting letters horizontally is considered erasing because the letters become nonexistent. See Rama (ibid.) and Taz 340:2 for resolutions to this difficulty.
    • However, Sh"t Rama 119 and Taz 340:2 disagree saying that bringing existing letters together isn't a melacha and since the book is meant to be open and closed it is like opening and closing a door which is certainly permissible and not an issue of boneh and soter. The Rama's leniency is based on the Gemara Shabbat (104b) that says that there is a biblical prohibition if a person writes one letter in Tiveriya and one in Tzipori because it is not considered lacking a significant action to bring them together. The Rama infers that moving letters closer to or further from one another is not considered writing or erasing. Similarly, opening the book doesn’t erase the letters, but merely separates the parts of the letters, and closing the book doesn’t write the letters, but just combines the halves. The Avnei Neizer 210:1-3 rejects this proof. He argues that separating two letters isn’t considered erasing because the letters still exist, but splitting letters horizontally is considered erasing because the letters become nonexistent. See Rama (ibid.) and Taz 340:2 for resolutions to this difficulty. Based on this Avnei Nezer, see also Sh"t Har Tzvi Melechet Kotev 4 writes that even the Levush himself agrees that separating two complete letters isn't an issue of writing. He is just concerned of joining and separating letter fragments but not separating two whole letters.
    • Halacha for Ashkenazim: Mishna Brurah 340:17 comments that the minhag is to follow the Rama, yet if one has another sefer without letters on the side, he should use that one instead to be strict for the Levush. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 28:2 writes that it is preferable not to open a book with words or pictures written across the edge of their leaves and are broken and put back together when the book is opened and closed. He concludes that many authorities permit opening the book in such a case. The problem is best avoided by not writing on the edge of books.
    • Halacha for Sephardim: Yalkut Yosef (340:8 Din Kotev BeShabbat) writes that it is permitted according to the strict law, however, initially one should avoid writing words on the side of Sefarim.
  4. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 28:3
  5. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 28:8
  6. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 28:10
  7. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 28:9
  8. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 28:9
  9. Magen Avraham 308:10, Sh"t Iggerot Moshe OC 5:21:8
  10. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 28:9. Sh"t Iggerot Moshe OC 5:21:8 writes that if the collection of blank pages is meant to be temporary, meaning the pages are removed fairly often, they should be removed before Shabbat. However, if they are meant to stay there with only occasional removal, then the binder is not muktzeh even with the blank pages.
  11. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata (in old edition 3:43, in the new 3:47)
  12. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata (in old edition 3:43, in the new 3:47)
  13. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 28:8