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Are we allowed to place less holy seforim on top of more holy seforim? I believe that the consensus is that you are only allowed to stack seforim in chronological order from top to bottom (e.g., Mishnayos above Gemara, Chumash on top of a Navi). Is this correct? Is this a halacha from Shulchan Aruch or other source, or is this a minhag?

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One thing I've heard was that this is preference but not actual law; another thing I heard was Torah over Neviim over Kesuvim over anything else; but anything else is all Oral Law, so you can stack mishna gemara shulchan aruch however you like. But this is all hearsay; someone help, please? – Shalom Dec 16 '10 at 16:47
up vote 12 down vote accepted

Sh"A Y"D 282:19

סעיף יט

מותר להניח ספר תורה על ס"ת, ומניחים חומשים ע"ג נביאים וכתובים, אבל אין מניחים נביאים וכתובים על גבי חומשים, ולא חומשים על גבי ס"ת. הגה: יד לז] <יג> אבל כתובים על גבי נביאים (או איפכא, שרי) (ב"י בשם הר"ן בשם תוספות פ"ק דב"ב) לח] וכל זה מיירי בב' כריכות, שכל א' כרוך בפני עצמו, אבל בכרך א' הכל שרי (מרדכי פ' השותפין). וע"ל סימן רמ"ג דאסור להרהר בדברי תורה במקומות המטונפים, והוא (יז) משום כבוד תורה

Which essentially states that Sefer Torah on Chumash, Chumash on NaKh.

This source brings numerous sources as well as the various rules for the different types of seforim.

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Clearly not a conspiracy, other than the fact that a person can go through the Yeshivah system and not be familiar with the index of Yoreh Deah. – Yahu Dec 17 '10 at 5:15
Yahu, you are absolutely right. I am embarrassed of my inability to look these things up myself. My only 'comfort' is knowing that the vast majority of my mesivta's graduating class is in the same position. – Tzvi Dec 17 '10 at 14:45
Tzvi, I was speaking of myself included. My knowledge of Yoreh De'ah is post Yeshiva. – Yahu Dec 19 '10 at 5:08
@Yahu Maybe not a conspiracy theory in the negative sense, but possibly based on an overly simplistic understanding of the Shulchan Aruch. See sam's answer below. – Double AA Oct 30 '12 at 15:32

The Aruch Hashulchan (Yoreh Deah 283:6) equates all printed sefarim with regards to their holiness and in the matter of placing them one on top of another:

יורה דעה סימן רפג סעיף ו

וכתב רבינו הרמ"א דכל זה בחומשים העשויים בגליון כספר תורה. אבל בשלנו שהם נכרכים – אין חילוק בין חומש לנביא. עד כאן לשונו. כלומר: דוודאי כל ספרי קודש הם קדושים, אך זהו קדושה כללית. אבל בפרטי הקדושות זה למעלה מזה, וספר תורה למעלה מכולם – זהו כשנכתבו לשם קדושת ספר תורה על הקלף כדין. אבל סתם ספרים כשלנו, וכל שכן בספרים הנדפסים – אין בהם פרטי קדושות אלא כולם קדושתם שוה. וגם לעניין הנחה זה על זה – אין בהם מעלה זה על זה, וכמו שכתבתי בסוף סימן הקודם. ואין חילוק בין תורה שבכתב לתורה שבעל פה, דכולם קדושים, ומניחים זה על זה (כן נראה לי).


The Rema writes that the aforementioned law applies to a Chumash made as a scroll like a sefer Torah, but with regards to our Chumashim which are bound books there is no difference between books of the Chumash and books of the Prophets.

What the Rema means is that certainly all holy books are holy, generally speaking. But individually there are different levels of holiness, with the sefer Torah having the highest level of holiness. And all this is only true when they are written with the sanctity of a sefer Torah in accordance with the relevant laws. But books which are not written with such sanctity, and all the more so our printed books, they do not have individual levels of holiness but are all equal.

And also with regards to stacking them one upon the other they have no priority, as I wrote at the end of the previous section. And it makes no difference whether the books are those of the written Torah or those of the Oral Torah, they all have the same level of holiness and be be stacked one upon the other. So it seems to me.

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