Closing and opening Sefarim with writing on side

Closing and opening books with writing [or designs] on their side pages:[1]

Books that have [words or] letters [or designs[2]] written on the top edges of the pages [i.e. the sides of the pages] some Poskim[3] rule it is forbidden to open or close them on Shabbos due to the writing and erasing prohibition.[4] However other Poskim[5] rule it is permitted to close and open [the books].[6] Practically, the custom is to be lenient like the latter opinion.[7] [However initially one must beware to avoid writing letters or designs on the edges of a book, and if one did so then one should cut off the edges until the letters are no longer recognizable.[8] Likewise, if one has another Sefer available of that type then it is best to be stringent.[9]]



This matter is disputed in Poskim and the custom is to be lenient. [However initially one must beware to avoid writing letters or designs on the edges of a book, and if one did so then one should cut off the edges until the letters are no longer recognizable.]


[1] Admur 340/4

[2] Ketzos Hashulchan 144 footnote 4; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 340/9 footnote 99 that this refers to designs of figures, such as people and animals, and not a mere circle or square and the like. It certainly does not include a mere splash of ink as is common in many Sefarim. See also Ashel Avraham of Butchach 340 who is very lenient in this matter, saying perhaps the stringency only applies to letters.

[3] M”A 340/6; Levush 340/4; Menorah Hatehora 340/4

[4] The reason: They prohibit opening them on Shabbos due to the erasing prohibition and as well [they forbid] to close them due to the writing prohibition. Now, although they have no intent to do this [writing or erasing, nevertheless it is forbidden as] it is an inevitable occurrence. [Admur ibid]

[5] Taz 340/2; Shut Rama 119; Maharash Halevi 27

[6] The reason: As since the letters are already written and it is just that they are lacking proximity, this does not contain a writing prohibition. As since it is possible to bring them close together easily without doing any new action they are considered like they are close and standing and one is doing nothing with this proximity. Similarly it is permitted to open them for this reason and one is not considered like he is erasing them as their writing [remains] intact and it is possible to near them to each other easily and they are [thus] considered already now to be] as if [they were] close. [Admur ibid; Taz ibid; Nishmas Adam 37/2; See Shut Rama ibid for other reasons mentioned; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 340 footnote 97]

[7] Admur ibid; Kneses Hagedola, brought in M”A 340/6; Tzemach Tzedek in Mishnayos Shabbos 12/4; Tosefes Shabbos 340/9; Birkeiy Yosef 340/5; Mor Uketzia 340; Chayeh Adam 38/5; Levushei Mordechai 1/59; Aruch Hashulchan 340/27; Mishneh Berurah 340/17; Poskim in Kaf Hachaim 340/30 and so concludes Kaf Hachaim ibid; Igros Moshe 2/40; Minchas Yitzchak 7/15; Poskim in Piskeiy Teshuvos 340/10 footnote 98

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule like the stringent opinion, that it is forbidden for the book to be opened or closed. This would likewise apply if there are designs on the edges of the papers. [Avnei Neizer 210]

[8] Ketzos Hashulchan 144/3; Shaar Hatziyon 340/25 in name of Achronim; Sefer Hachaim; Poskim brought in Piskeiy Teshuvos 340 footnote 98]

[9] Chayeh Adam ibid; Mishneh Berurah 340/17

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