I have a computer program that I use to print the Tikkun, so that I can practice the parsha while at work (instead of shlepping the huge Tikkun book.)

Today, I accidentally spilled water on the sheets and the ink smudged to the point where the letters are barely readable. Is it still considered shaimos because of what it originally was when it was legible, or does the fact that the water destroyed the letters nullify it from being shaimos even if it was an accident.

Essentially, the question is does the status of shaimos depend on the original properties of the document regardless of whatever accidents may occur to it afterwards?


In light of one of the comments, received - These sheets are printed from a computer program called "Trope Trainer." They are not photocopies of a Tikkun book or from any other printed source. The ink used is from an HP Inkjet printer, and it's printed on "el cheapo" white printer paper.

  • It might not have even be Shaimos to begin with. It's not so clear that photocopies are Shaimos. Rabbi David Sharfman (Mashgiach of Yeshiva Toras Chaim of Miami) gives a Halachah Shiur on Sundays that addressed this issue, I believe it was this one. Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 3:44
  • I get the impression that it's a printed sheet with water soluble ink, not a photocopy.
    – Epicentre
    Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 4:40
  • 1
    My bad. I thought you were talking about 3 hydrogen 2 carbon being jettisoned through the vacuum of space. Thanks for clarifying :) But on a serious note, I don't think it makes a difference whether it was photocopied or printed. What makes it not Shaimos is the fact that it was printed with the intent of being a sort of 'disposable' copy (as opposed to a full book intended to be reused). Until the intent to make it holy is used, it remains 'disposable', albeit it should still be disposed in a proper way. Commented Sep 4, 2014 at 15:48
  • @Salmononius2 Once you read it, it becomes shemos
    – user613
    Commented Sep 7, 2014 at 10:50
  • Just to clarify, are you sure there was no traces of BPA that could of gone from the bottle into the water? Because it might change the Halacha if there was.
    – user613
    Commented Sep 7, 2014 at 10:51

3 Answers 3


According to my understanding שמות (Shaimos) isn't only if it contains legible text or even text at all, as we see that the sidֵֵֵֵes of a ספר (sefer) have a din of שמות (shaimos) even though it doesn't end/or never had any text on this specific area, and from what I know that a burnt ספר תורה (sefer torah scroll) needs to be buried.


Shaimos is governed by the idea that holy information, ideas, history, etc. should not be destroyed. What, then, is considered holy enough information to be kept? The general consensus among orthodox rabbis is that shaimos worthy stuff consists of everything from hand written parchments such as Torah scrolls and Tefilin scrolls, all the way to a child's parshat hashavuah homework. What is not considered shaimos worthy stuff could include audio or video materials, computer disks, diagrams or pictures without text, etc. The concept that holds true through all of this is that if it would possible for a rabbi a couple hundred years from now to study from the work, then it should be kept and stored with other shaimos worthy stuff.

So in your question you state that the words are barely legible... But the real question is: Could the sheets in any way possibly be read, and understood by a rabbi from the future? If the page truly looks like an inky mess of which no one could possibly draw any information from no matter how analytic you are, then I would say that it's fine to throw them away, unless you'd like to keep them, as a reminder not to spill water on your laining sheets :P

If you are really still unsure, it takes only a few minutes to fold em up, put em in an envelope, close da envelope, and in big bold letters on the front write: "Shaimos?" then drop it in your rabbi's mail box the next time your on your way to synagogue...

I was told to put a source in... http://www.shaimos.org/Desposing%20of%20Shaimos%20by%20the%20KOF-K.pdf

  • The bounty description says "Looking for an answer drawing from credible and/or official sources." ....I have no idea whether you're right or wrong, buy you may want to back up your claim that "The concept that holds true through all of this is that if it would possible for a rabbi a couple hundred years from now to study from the work, then it should be kept and stored with other shaimos worthy stuff."
    – MTL
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 2:32
  • See also meta.judaism.stackexchange.com/a/1445/5323
    – MTL
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 2:33
  • The law itself is that: one should not erase hashem's name. Now the question is, has he already erased it? If it is truly just smudges on a paper that look like some form of contemporary art, then the papers are nothing more than pictures or diagrams, which are 100% not shaimos worthy according to shaimos law today, but if it is possible to decipher the words on the pages, then it would definitely be considered shaimos worthy.
    – Jon
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 15:09
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    As I stated above, I'm not disputing your point, simply because I don't have the requisite knowledge either to confirm or deny your answer. What I did do was ask if you could provide a source for your claim. You might want to read the Meta post I linked to.
    – MTL
    Commented Sep 14, 2014 at 15:32
  • 2
    Hi Jon; welcome to Mi Yodeya! Comments around here are not a good place to store important material as they can be subject to deletion. You should always include as much sourcing and explanation as you can in the body of your post itself. Remember also that none of us know you that we should trust you, so backing up any claim you make with an outside source is a great way to make your information useful to others. You can check out our help center to learn more about how the site works. Looking forward to seeing you around!
    – Double AA
    Commented Sep 16, 2014 at 0:01

It appears from the Gemara in Shabbat 116a that a Kosher Sefer Torah that has faded and less than 85 letters are legible no longer has the status of a Sefer Torah.

ת''ש ס''ת שנמחק אם יש בו ללקט שמונים וחמש אותיות כגון פרשת ויהי בנסוע הארון מצילין ואם לאו אין מצילין

But I cannot find a corresponding entry in Shulchan Aruch for this.

  • 1
    We save things besides Sifrei Torah though.
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 14, 2015 at 14:49
  • @DoubleAA - True. But the point is that once it's illegible it seems to lose its Kedusha. It that is true for a Sefer Torah how much more so for printed sheets that never had as much Kedusha as a Sefer Torah. Commented Apr 15, 2015 at 8:05

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