I was considering buying a version of the Sefer Yetsirah, but wondering how I should treat it. It's not the Tanach, so I suppose it probably doesn't require being as careful. Even though my question is specifically about the Sefer Yetsirah, I would also like to learn how one should treat commentaries, editions of the Talmud, Zohar, Shulchan Aruch, even textbooks on Jewish history, etc.

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  • HVL, thanks for your good question and welcome to the site; I hope you stick around and enjoy it. Please consider registering your username: this will afford you a better site experience.
    – msh210
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 6:21
  • HVL maybe you can clarify what ways of treating you are referring to because as it is now the answer is 'respectfully'.
    – Double AA
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 12:42

2 Answers 2


All Torah works are considered holy and must be treated with respect, regardless of the specific genre (halacha, Talmud, kabbalah, etc.), even if the name of God is not mentioned in them. (This is true even if they are not written in Hebrew.)

The only difference between Torah works is that Biblical books are should not be placed underneath non-Biblical works, and Chumashim should not be placed underneath any other books, including other Bilical books.

  • Unless you are a certain type of sephardi who says that since you use a siddur daily, they should be placed on top of chumashim. Or you have reason to believe that the "Torah book" you have really isn't Torah at all but pure superstition or avodah zarah.
    – avi
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 14:15
  • @avi With regards to your first point, I'm not aware of such a position.
    – LazerA
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 14:37
  • @avi With regards to the second, there certainly are works that, despite their appearances, are not legitimately Torah works and do not need to be treated with respect. (For example, I happen to own a Hebrew edition of the Christian Bible, including a Hebrew translation of the New Testament. Even though the work includes the full text of Tanach, it has no actual kedusha whatsoever.) However, if we are talking about a sefer that is broadly recognized in the traditional Jewish community as a legitimate Torah work, then it would be deeply problematic to unilaterally decide that it "isn't Torah".
    – LazerA
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 14:37
  • @LazerA are you allowed to own that? Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 14:41
  • I'm talking about Berg translations of Kabbalah.
    – avi
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 14:46

Generally, how you treat a book is not based on its relative Kedusha level, but rather if Gd's name is in the book or not.

The relative Kadosh levels of books only really comes into affect when you are stacking books ontop of eachother, or placing them in a bookshelf. (See Shulhan ARuch Yoreh Deah 282:19 for more details)

But how you treat the book itself, depends entirely on if Gd's name is in the book, or if it's from tanach.

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    See Shulhan ARuch Yoreh Deah 282:19 Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 12:46
  • I don't see anything there that contradicts what I wrote. They are two separate issues.
    – avi
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 13:53
  • Just a supporting source perhaps. Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 14:08
  • Oh, I thought that was the reason for the -1 vote.
    – avi
    Commented Feb 9, 2012 at 14:11

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