Sivan 5762 – Are Class Notes, Newspapers, or Email Divrei Torah Shaimos?

1 Sivan 5762

L’chvod HaRav:

I am finishing the semester now, and I was wondering what to do with my notes from my Jewish classes. Do they need to go in shaimos? What if there’s a possibility that there’s more than 3 words from a pasuk consecutively? Or do I not need to worry and can I just throw them out if I choose to. What about source booklets – with sources like the Shulchan Aruch, Gemara, etc… Do those have to go in shaimos?

Also, are email divrei Torah, or divrei Torah found in newspapers to be treated as shaimos?

Seminary withheld


Dear Adina,

Thank you for your question.

We must realize that there are actually two different levels of Kedushah in items and Divrei Torah that must be disposed of. The first level is that of Shaimos (lit. names of Hashem), Devarim SheBikdusha. These items, which include anything with Hashem’s name printed on it (in any language – but it must be written by someone who fears Hashem), three words from a Possuk in the Torah, or any Divrei Torah or Divrei Halacha written to inspire people to become closer to Hashem (again, in any language), must be put into Genizah only.

The next level is that of Tzorchei Mitzvah, items used for the purpose of enabling the performance of a Mitzvah. Examples would be Schach, a Lulav and Esrog, and fringes of Tzitzis. These items need not be put into Geniza, but may not be disposed of in a degrading manner. These items should be burned, or wrapped in plastic and only then disposed of in the garbage. Divrei Torah written in newspapers whose main function is to provide news, although they would seem to fall into the first category, may be disposed of by wrapping the entire newspaper in plastic and putting it in the garbage. This is actually preferable, unless the Divrei Torah could be removed from the newspaper, since putting the secular news and ads into the Genizah with the Devarim SheBikdusha degrades the other Devarim SheBikdusha that are there.

Divrei Torah that have been received through e-mail have the status of Devarim SheBikdusha, and should be placed in Genizah. However, I have heard that there are Halachic experts that say that if it was printed originally just for a quick perusal, with the intention to dispose of it immediately, it might not have the Din of Davar SheBikdusha, rather that of Tzorchei Mitzvah, and it may be wrapped and disposed of in the garbage. However, if it has Hashem’s name written there in any language, it should either be removed from the printout and placed in the Genizah, or the entire printout should be placed in the Genizah.

Therefore, in the specific case of your notes that may have Pesukim, and also source booklets that quote Shulchan Oruch and Gemara, these should be treated as Devarim Shebikdusha and placed in Genizah.

Take care,
Rabbi Aaron Tendler