Considering that, these days, you can have quite a bit of Torah on cellphones (indeed, on my iPhone I have all of Tanach, Siddur, Halachic works, Jastrow dictionary, etc.), is it possible to make an argument that phones could count as a sefer in terms of stacking?

Essentially, one is not supposed to put other things on top of sefarim. Indeed, one should not even stack a "less holy" sefer on top of a "more holy sefer" (although the Rama states, I believe, that anything that is bound and not written on klaf all have the same status). Thus, where would a phone with Torah on it fall in this spectrum?

Maybe it would make a difference if the Torah was actually up on the screen at the time of stacking? Or perhaps it wouldn't, and a phone could not count as something of a sefer in any circumstances whatsoever?

Anyone see any sources that discuss such a thing? Can you place/stack a phone on top of a sefer?

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    I don't think this type of halacha would apply to temporary "virtual" Torah that is digitally stored. AFAIK, this is similar to the sheimos halacha. Torah words that appear on a computer screen and on disc, CD, etc. are not considered sheimos, from what I have seen and heard from asking rabbanim. I infer, thus, that these items have no holiness as an item itself just because of what is magnetically stored within it.
    – DanF
    Mar 26, 2015 at 18:05
  • I'm going to say no since the phone itself doesn't contain writing. The rendered images on the screen are temporary and thus we aren't expected to bury a phone for things like shemos.
    – rosenjcb
    Mar 26, 2015 at 18:31
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    Do you avoid taking it into the bathroom?
    – JNF
    Mar 26, 2015 at 18:56
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    @JNF No, but I don't think I would open up any of the Torah apps in a bathroom... no?
    – WhoKnows
    Mar 26, 2015 at 21:43
  • @DanF Interesting... Good direction there... Suppose you'd be right...
    – WhoKnows
    Mar 26, 2015 at 21:43

1 Answer 1


I don't have sources, but I offer the following reasoning:

  • There is no issue of erasing with digital representations of the divine name. Text on a screen is neither permanent nor writing.

  • Nobody (as far as I know) bars bringing your smartphone into a bathroom.

  • Nobody (as far as I know) requires burying a phone when it will no longer be used. R' Yosef Dovid Chanowitz says explicitly: "Audio cassettes, CDs, and videos do not have kedusha, even if one can hear or see words of Torah or Hashem’s name. The same is true with a computer or a hard drive. One may place them in the garbage unless clearly indicated on the object that it contains Torah (like on a label). In that case, one should cover them or remove the indicator before placing it the garbage."

  • Your phone can contain a mix of Torah and ordinary text. It might even contain stuff that is profane. (Do you have Facebook installed? Twitter?) As far as I know, nobody bars mixing these types of content on a phone, while I don't think any (kosher) publisher would combine Torah and secular content in a single volume.

Considering all of this, it seems clear that a device that contains 1s and 0s that encode text is not a sefer and is not part of the stacking rules.

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