In the last decade there have been quite a few bans (cherem) on books published for the Orthodox Jew. Usually these bans are put in place by Israeli Charedi Rabbis. To my knowledge most of these bans are either due to the author not adhering to the banning rabbis' view of Chazal's knowledge of science or due to the stories told about famous rabbinic personalities.

My question is as follows: when a ban is placed on a book does it become "assur" (forbidden) to read/own that book? If so, what is the nature of the issur? (i.e. what is the issur exactly?)

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    No one I know ever took Rav Shach's ban on Rav Steinsaltz's seforim seriously.
    – ezra
    Dec 11, 2017 at 1:37
  • @ezra no one I know either - that is because you and I know a certain kind of people - but try to find R Steinsaltz's gemarot in Bnei Brak bookshops ....
    – mbloch
    Dec 13, 2017 at 12:12
  • Rav Nossan Kamentsky actually wrote a whole book called Antaomy of a Ban after his Making of a Gadol got banned
    – sam
    Jan 22, 2019 at 1:11
  • Here is a shiur from the man himself yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/731293/rabbi-nathan-kamenetsky/…
    – sam
    Jan 22, 2019 at 1:11
  • @ezra As mbloch pointed out, you and him associate with certain kind of people, which shapes your personal perspective. As someone who has browsed in various "geniza" depositories In Haredi areas, I can tell you that many times I have found Steinsaltz's editions of the Talmud there, despite they're being in mint condition. This was most common in the time period shortly after R' Shach issued his ban. Jan 22, 2019 at 7:49

1 Answer 1


One of the most prominent bans in the time period referenced was that of several books written by R. Natan Slifkin. While undoubtedly many are of the opinion that it is permissible to read/own these books, a justification of the ban was written by R. Aharon Feldman. In this essay (available at the first link here), titled "The Slifkin Affair — Issues and Perspectives", R. Feldman wrote the following:

The books were banned because they were deemed to contain ideas antithetical to Torah, and therefore forbidden to read because of the Torah commandment, לא תתורו אחרי לבבכם ואחרי עיניכם ("You shall not stray after your hearts and after your eyes") which forbids tempting oneself with matters which might turn one away from the Torah.

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