A few days ago, at the Atlantic Ave. subway station in Brooklyn, I noticed some Chaba"d-oriented segulah pamphlets sitting on the staircase ledge. I took one and notice that it hadTehillim with the printed 4-letter name of G-d in it.

The pamphlets were on a public stairway ledge. Millions of people pass by this area and put their hands on the stairway ledge and between the wind from the trains and people passing by, people's hand movement on the ledge, these pamphlets would most likely end up on the floor and trampled on by others. Non-Jews (as an example) may pick up the pamphlet for curiosity and then dump it in the garbage. It seems quite likely that this pamphlet would be desecrated.

Is one allowed to place such pamphlets or similar material in this way where it is quite likely that eventually it will be "mishandled"?

  • 1
    @Gershon Gold, I don't see how that is related at all.
    – ezra
    Jul 13, 2017 at 16:15
  • no source att but I've heard a rabbinical student say that you can leave them around knowing that a non Jew will through them out and thereby avoid needing to bring them to geniza
    – andrewmh20
    Aug 3, 2017 at 17:47

1 Answer 1


From the requirement to place Torah items, and especially the names of G-d, in geniza, it is clear that it is prohibited to leave them where they might come to disgrace.

See, e.g., Maimonides Laws of the Fundamentals of Torah Chapter 6:

כתבי הקדש כולן ופירושיהן וביאוריהן אסור לשורפם או לאבדם ביד והמאבדן ביד מכין אותו מכת מרדות. במה דברים אמורים בכתבי הקדש שכתבם ישראל בקדושה אבל אפיקורוס ישראל שכתב ספר תורה שורפין אותו עם האזכרות שבו. מפני שאינו מאמין בקדושת השם ולא כתבו לשמו אלא שהוא מעלה בדעתו שזה כשאר הדברים והואיל ודעתו כן לא נתקדש השם. ומצוה לשורפו כדי שלא להניח שם לאפיקורוסים ולא למעשיהם. אבל עובד כוכבים שכתב את השם גונזין אותו. וכן כתבי הקדש שבלו או שכתבן עובד כוכבים יגנזו

See also, e.g. here:

The earliest responsum I have seen on the subject is printed in the sefer Be’er Sheva, authored by one of the great Torah leaders of the early seventeenth century, Rabbi Yissachar Dov Eilenburg. He was a talmid of the Levush, and his sefer includes a haskamah from the Maharal of Prague! The Be’er Sheva reports that in his day, it was not uncommon for people to burn the worn-out printed editions of sifrei kodesh. Those who burned the sifrei kodesh claimed that this was more respectful than burying them, because burial often resulted in the sifrei kodesh being unearthed and therefore becoming treated disgracefully.

The Be’er Sheva takes strong issue with this approach, noting that it is prohibited to destroy any type of kisvei hakodesh, and that burning them certainly violateshalachah. The claim that burying the sefarim leads to their desecration is unfounded, he states, because the desecration is a result of not burying the genizahcorrectly. As we mentioned above, the Gemara describes burying in earthenware vessels. If, indeed, all genizah were to be buried this way, argues the Be’er Sheva, then the kisvei hakodesh would never be strewn about after their burial. He concludes that worn-out, printed Torah material must be buried in earthenware vessels, just as one is required to bury sifrei Torah this way. This responsum of the Be’er Sheva is subsequently cited authoritatively by the Magen Avraham (154:9).

See also Halachipedia's article on the topic, which claims there may be some room for leniencies:

There is a dispute regarding printing a paper with Divrei Torah which was done for temporary use and without intent of making it Kadosh. footnote 8: Rav Asher Weiss (quoted by Rabbi Aryeh Lebowitz on http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/739819/Rabbi_Aryeh_Lebowitz/Ten_Minute_Halacha_-_Assorted_Sheimos_Issues) is lenient because of the expense. They however also cite that: Organizations should not send out advertisements with the name of Hashem written on them because people may unknowingly throw it out. [21] Many poskim write that one should not write a pasuk on an invitation as most people simply throw these away. [22] Pesukim should not be placed in newspapers since the people will throw them away. [23] footnotes 21-23: Iggerot Moshe YD 2:134-135. Ginzei Hakodesh 7:17:footnote 35 quotes Rav Elyashiv that it would be permitted if you do not write the complete name of Hashem. Iggerot Moshe 2:135, Ginzei Hakodesh 9:5, Halichos Shlomo Tefilla 20:footnote 72. Rav Hershel Schachter in a shiur on yutorah.org (min 1-2) agrees.Rav Moshe Heinemann, however, writes that the pasuk of od yeshama is only a melitza and not written as a pasuk and is therefore permitted. Rav Elyashiv in Kovetz Teshuvot 1:115. This is based on the Shach 283:4 who writes that the reason Shulchan Aruch 283:4 says one shouldn't write pesukim on a Tallit is because someone may come to throw it away.

  • 1
    This does not answer my question. Perhaps, I haven't clarified it? Let me know. I am aware that these articles require genizah, which is what your answer addresses. By placing the pamphlets on a stair-ledge, the Chabad-niks were not treating them disrespectfully, as they didn't place them on the floor. Perhaps, they were hoping that people (such as me) would notice them and take them, and others would just leave them alone. But, as stated, its location in a subway station with the conditions that I mentioned, makes it highly probable that it would be mishandled, eventually.
    – DanF
    Jul 13, 2017 at 18:42
  • Many invitations begin (I think, in the middle of the pasuk??) starting with the words Od Yishama. From there to the end of the pasuk, G-d's name is not mentioned. So, I'm not sure why that should be any concern of throwing away the invitation.
    – DanF
    Aug 3, 2017 at 19:12

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .