In Sanhedrin 100b: Rabbi Akivah says "Even one who reads foreign Seforim (has no chelek in Olam Haba)". Beraitha there: "He refers to Sifrei Tzedukim" (or "Sifrei Minim" according to all of the old, uncensored manuscripts) src (Likewise, this Girsa of Sifrei Minim is brought in Shaarei Kedusha gate 2).

What would constitute Sifrei Minim today according to halacha? Looking for a clear guideline. would this also include things like books championing atheism such as Dawkins' books?

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    Ein Mishpat there references a ruling of Maimonides. Did you look there? Did you do any sort of research? If so, it should be edited into the OP.
    – mevaqesh
    May 14, 2017 at 5:27
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    "what would constitute sifrei minim today? looking for a clear guideline" Is there any reason to assume the the guideline of this halakha is any different today from what it ever was?
    – mevaqesh
    May 14, 2017 at 5:36
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    Do we Paskin like R Akiva here?
    – Double AA
    May 14, 2017 at 11:50
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    @ray I guess Isaac did when he added the tag halacha. But certainly this question is more interesting if the definition is relevant halachically
    – Double AA
    May 14, 2017 at 23:53
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    @ray Permitting something and declaring someone who reads it a heretic are different things.
    – Double AA
    May 16, 2017 at 15:19

1 Answer 1


Rashi on the Daf (S.V Rav Yosef) says that the Sifrei Minim ie. Sefer Ben Sira is called a Sefer Min:

שיש בו דברי הבאי ובא עליהם לידי ביטול תורה

Because it has Divrei Havai - empty things, and they cause Bittul Torah.

Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky basing himself off Rashi's interpretation is qouted saying that any book that leads to Bittul Torah is classified as a Sefer Min.

The Rambam as well, in his commentary to the Mishna, also classifies books that are wasteful as Sifrei Minim:

ובספרים החיצונים אמרו שהם ספרי תועים (סנהדרין ק ע"ב) וכן ספר בן סירא והוא היה איש שחיבר ספרים יש בהם היתולים מענייני הכרת, פנים אין בהם טעם ולא תועלת, אלא איבוד הזמן בהבל. כגון אלה הספרים הנמצאים אצל הערב מספור דברי הימים והנהגות המלכים וייחוסי הערבים וספרי הניגון וכיוצא בהן מן הספרים שאין בהם חכמה ולא תועלת גופני, אלא איבוד הזמן בלבד

The Bartenura on the Mishna defines Sifrei Minim as the books of Aristotle the Greek and his friends:

כגון אריסט״ו היוני וחביריו

Though the Rav allows it in the bathroom or the Bath House.

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    Note, however, that in Mishneh Torah, the closest he comes to describing this is Hilkhot Avoda Zara (2:2) which has a much narrower scope.
    – mevaqesh
    May 14, 2017 at 21:55

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