Respecting Holy Books

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There are a number of Halachot that define how a person should properly respect a Sefer Torah and all holy books (Sefarim).[1]

Using a Sefer for one’s benefit

  1. It’s forbidden to use a Sefer for one’s benefit such as to protect oneself from the sun or for privacy, however, to protect another Sefer from the sun is permitted as that’s not done for one’s benefit. [2]
  2. Similarly, it’s permitted to block one’s view of a forbidden sight with a Sefer. [3]
  3. It’s permissible to cover one Sefer (that’s open) with another if one leaves temporarily. [4]

Leaning on a Sefer

  1. It’s permitted to place one Sefer on another (propping it up) while learning, however, some are strict in this regard. [5]
  2. When there’s a need, it’s permissible to lean on a Sefer for a hard surface to write divrei Torah. [6]
  3. It’s forbidden to lean one’s elbows on a Sefer, however, while learning some are lenient. [7]

Leaving objects in a Sefer or on top

  1. Some say it’s forbidden to leave one Sefer inside another one to keep one’s place. [8]
  2. It’s permitted to leave papers with Torah written on them inside a Sefer. [9]
  3. One shouldn’t leave a piece of paper, pen, or anything similar in a Sefer to guard the object, however if it’s meant as a bookmark, it’s permissible. [10]
  4. One shouldn’t leave a piece of paper, pen, or anything similar on top of a Sefer. [11]

Positioning a Sefer

  1. If a Sefer falls on the floor one should pick it up and kiss it. [12]
  2. If a Sefer is upside down one should turn it rightside up and kiss it. [13]
  3. Some have the practice of giving precedence to a person carrying a Sefer to walk through the doorway first.[14]

Sleeping on a Sefer

  1. One shouldn’t sleep on top of a Sefer, however, one doesn’t need to wake up someone sleeping on a Sefer in middle of his learning. [15]

Sitting on or next to holy books

  1. It's forbidden to sit on the same seat, bench, or bed that has a Sefer kodesh on it. [16]

Links

Sources

  1. See Taz YD 271 (at the end) and Pitchei Teshuva 282:8 who hold that printed Sefarim must be treated respectfully just like a hand-written Sefer.
  2. Kitzur S”A 28:9, Chaye Adam 31:48, Mishna Berurah 154:31
  3. Rav Elyashiv in Nekiyut VeKavod BeTefillah pg 100 (quoted in Daily Halacha Discussion pg 29)
  4. Sh”t Shelmat Chaim 2:377 (quoted in Piskei Teshuvot 154:23) and Tzeddaka UMishpat (Rabbi Yacov Balvia, 16:27, pg 383); (quoted by Yalkut Yosef (Kriyat Torah pg 324)) is lenient based on the Magan Avraham 154:14 who permits having one Sefer lean on another in order to learn.
  5. Taz Y”D 282:13 writes that leaning one Sefer on anthor is forbidden as being a great disgrace by using the Sefer as a piece of wood or stone just like leaning one’s elbows on a Sefer Torah is forbidden. Even the Taz agrees if a Sefer was there prior it’s permissible to put another Sefer on it to learn. However, Magan Avraham 154:14 argues that it’s permissible based on the logic of what difference is it whether a Sefer is placed here or there. Kitzur S”A 28:9, Chaye Adam 31:48, Mishna Berurah 154:31 rule that it’s permissible, however, Yalkut Yosef (Kriyat HaTorah pg 323) and Rav Mordechai Eliyahu (footnote on Kitzur S”A 28:9) writes that the Minhag is to be strict on this issue.
  6. Mishna Berurah 154:31, Yalkut Yosef (Kriyat HaTorah pg 323)
  7. Rama 282:7 writes that one may not place a Sefer on one’s lap and lean one’s elbows on it. Sh”t Shelmat Chaim 2:566 (quoted in Piskei Teshuvot 154:23) is lenient if it’s in middle of one’s learning.
  8. Kitzur S”A 28:9, Aruch HaShulchan Y”D 282:23, Pitchei Teshuva Y”D 282:17 in name of Chamudei Daniel, and Rav Elyashiv in Avnei Yashfei 1:202 write that it’s forbidden to leave one Sefer inside another to keep the place. However, Tzeddaka UMishpat (Rabbi Yacov Balvia, 16:27, pg 383); (quoted by Yalkut Yosef (Kriyat Torah pg 324)) is lenient based on the Magan Avraham 154:14 who permits having one Sefer lean on another in order to learn.
  9. Aruch HaShulchan Y”D 282:23 writes that one may leave chiddushei Torah inside a Sefer. Similarly, Eliyah Rabba 154:10 and Mishna Berurah 154:31 write that one may not leave blank paper in a Sefer implying that paper with divrei Torah may be left in a Sefer.
  10. Eliyah Rabba 154:10 writes that one shouldn’t leave a pen inside a Sefer, however someone who’s copying over text may leave a pen to mark the place where he left. This is also the opinion of the Kaf HaChaim 154:56. Tzeddaka UMishpat (Rabbi Yacov Balvia, 16:27, pg 383); (quoted by Yalkut Yosef Kriyat Torah pg 324 and Piskei Teshuvot 154:23) writes that any use of the Sefer for learning purposes one may be lenient on. [The Magan Avraham 154:14, Chaye Adam 31:48, Kitzur S”A 28:9, and Mishna Berurah 154:31 write that a pen or paper without Divrei Torah shouldn’t be left in a Sefer but don’t mention the case where it’s meant to be a bookmark.]
  11. Kaf HaChaim 154:53 and Sh”t Igrot Moshe OC 4:72 (quoted in Daily Halacha Discussion pg 28)
  12. Maharil Likutim 80, Eliya Zuta YD 240:7
  13. Darkei Moshe YD 282 quoting the Maharil (Likutim 80), Eliya Zuta YD 240:7
  14. Maharil Likutim 80, Eliya Zuta YD 240:7
  15. Orchot Rabbenu vol 3 pg 161 in name of the Chazon Ish, and Rav Nassim Karlitz in Chut Sheni (Ribbit pg 169) are stringent, while Sh”t Shelmat Chaim 2:539 (quoted in Piskei Teshuvot 154:23) is lenient if it’s in middle of one’s learning.
  16. S"A 282:7 writes that it's forbidden to sit on a bed that has a Sefer Torah on it. The Rama Ibid. comments that the same prohibition applies to other Sifrei Kodesh. This is accepted by all the achronim.