Often today when a Jewish book is banned that leads to a dramatic increase in sales and circulation of the work. This would seem to be the exact opposite of what the Rabbi or Beit Din was trying to accomplish by banning the work. Surely this is known to those who impose the ban, so then why do they bother banning in the first place? They could just as easily express their displeasure with the work without officially banning it.

Does the fact that banning a book today makes it more popular, thereby ostensibly placing a stumbling block before more Jews, mean that Rabbis should no longer ban books?

  • "Surely [the facts of the marketplace are] known to those who impose the ban." I'm not so sure. These bans are frequently signed onto by people who have only partial information about the nature of the banned work and its place in the marketplace at their disposal. ... unless by "... those who impose the ban" you mean the facilitators who campaign for the ban, gather signatures, etc. For them, I'm not so sure that its safe to assume that lowering the popularity of the banned work is actually their goal. – Isaac Moses Jan 7 '13 at 19:26
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    It's important to note that the intended consequence of a ban may be the exclusion of a work from a particular community, while the unintended consequence of increased popularity may be in a different community. – Isaac Moses Jan 7 '13 at 19:36
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    Is it a ban or a psak? If I feel that a book is forbidden, I'd have to rule that way whatever the consequences. – Shmuel Brin Jan 7 '13 at 20:35
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    @ShmuelBrin Not neccasarily. If lots of new people are going to read it bemezid, perhaps we apply מוטב שיהיו שוגגים. – Double AA Jan 7 '13 at 22:41
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    @DoubleAA unless 1. It's an issur Deoraisa (Lo Sassuru) and 2. Even in Rabanan cases one must be mafrish meisura if there is a possibility that some (or at least a large amount of people) will listen. – Shmuel Brin Jan 7 '13 at 23:22

I think that your question is making the assumption that people ban books with the intention of financially harming the author, which I don't think is correct. I have no sources to back this up, but the banning of books in contemporary Haredi society is as a warning to Haredim who may otherwise read them. The rabbonim who ban such literature have little interest in whether the books continue to be read by non-Orthodox (or "less" Orthodox) Jews, but in preventing other Haredim from reading them. To that end, whatever your personal views may be on the ethical nature of such bans, I don't think you can deny their efficacy.


Yes, Rabbis should stop banning books. I don't know if your argument is necessary, but it certainly doesn't hurt.

  • @nikmasi It is an answer because it answers the question. See meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/a/1446/759 You are welcome to upvote or downvote if you disagree with Reader's logic, as that is all this answer is currently based on. – Double AA Jan 7 '13 at 20:21
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    Reader, if you can edit in any source for this claim of yours that would greatly improve your post's value! Welcome to Mi Yodeya and I hope you stick around. – Double AA Jan 7 '13 at 20:22
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    @DoubleAA It doesn't bring a source AND it doesn't add anything to the OP. The OP asked if it's a good idea and the answerer answered "yes". He doesn't say why should Rabbis stop banning books (Jewish ethics, legal liability for slander, Chilul Hashem, whatever) – Shmuel Brin Jan 7 '13 at 23:27