Opening and Reading Mail on Shabbat

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Opening Mail

  1. It’s forbidden to tear or steam a letter open on Shabbat. It’s permissible to tell a non-Jew that it’s forbidden to open letters on Shabbat so that the non-Jew will understand to open it as this is not a command but only a hint. [1] Similarly, it’s permissible to benefit from the letter since the action of the non-Jew was applied to the envelope and not to the letter directly. [2]
  2. It’s permissible to open an envelope or a booklet that was stapled shut just for transmission by post by removing the staples. However, it’s forbidden to remove the staples from two papers that were stapled together permanently. [3] Similarly, it’s forbidden to staple an envelope closed. [4]

Reading Mail

  1. In general it’s forbidden to read letters on Shabbat even of a social or business correspondence. However, if a letter of social correspondence arrived on Shabbat it’s permissible to read it silently (without moving one’s lips) because it’s possible that it contains crucial information for Shabbat. However, business letters may not be read on Shabbat at all. [5]

Related Pages

  1. Permitted and forbidden things to read
  2. Koreah (Tearing)


  1. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:2
  2. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 30:57
  3. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 28:5
  4. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 28:5
  5. Shemirat Shabbat KeHilchata 29:45