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What's the proper way to dispose of holy objects?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg

  

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“You shall utterly destroy all the places where the nations that you shall possess worshipped their gods… and obliterate their names from that place.  You shall not do so to the Lord, your G-d”.1

It is forbidden to destroy the written name of G-d, whether it is written in Hebrew or any other language. Furthermore, it is forbidden to cause the written name of G-d to be destroyed or defaced by placing it in a place where it will be destroyed by others. This rule also applies to any words of Torah, such as a sefer (Torah book). Therefore, a sefer which is no longer usable, or any paper or pamphlet which contains word of Torah (commonly known as “Shaimos”), must be buried. Most cities have an organization, or burial society, which for a small fee will respectfully bury these holy objects.

Footnotes

  • 1. Deuteronomy 12:2-4.

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COMMENTS

Disposal of G-d's name

Posted by: Anonymous, UK on Apr 11, 2005

Does this also apply to printers waste if not how can they dispose of this if it has not yet been turned into a book yet, or used for a holy act?

Editor's Comment

Printer's waste may be discarded. This includes misprints, proof sheets, or any item which was never intended for circulation.


recycle shaimos

Posted by: Anonymous, Brooklyn, New York, USA on Apr 28, 2005

can we recycle shaimos? 25 bags times 25 dollars you do the math...

P.S. I heard it would be OK as long as the shaimos are in double bags and there is no burning involved in the recycling process (I dont think you can recycle burnt paper) so it seems to me that putting shaimos out to recycle would be OK?

Editor's Comment

According to R' Moshe Feinstein, it is permitted to recycle any holy book which doesn't actually contain G-d's name spelled out completely, as it is in the Torah (the Tetragrammaton). According to this opinion, only actual books of the Tanach (Bible) must be buried, while Talmudic texts and other words of Torah may be recycled (Igrot Moshe, Orach Chaim vol. IV s. 39).

Shaimos

Posted by: Max on Jun 20, 2005

Do you have to bury the holy objects in a cemetery?

Editor's Comment

Actual Torah scrolls, tefillin, or mezuzot, must be buried in a Jewish cemetery. Other holy objects should be buries in a location where they will be assured of respectful treatment; i.e. they will not be exhumed, crops will not be planted over them, etc. This is why sheimot are often buried under the foundation of a new synagogue.

RELATED CATEGORIES

Mitzvot » Tefillin
Life Cycle » Bar/Bat Mitzvah » Tefillin
Torah » G-d's Wisdom

Torah
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.