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According to Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (28:4), one may not sit on a surface upon which sefarim are currently resting, unless the sefarim are placed on something which is a tefach above that surface, and certainly they may not be placed on the floor.

However, in many Judaica stores that I've been to, and in many other places (e.g. the bottom shelf of a bookcase), I have seen sefarim placed on the ground, separated only by a board less than an inch in thickness. Are there any opinions that permit this?

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Printed seforim that were never used do not need a tefach between them and the floor. A paper thin separation would suffice.

[See ארחות רבינו חלק ג' דף קס"ג that the Steipler would do that. Also, in the sefer גנזי הקודש דף ל"ב הערה ח in the name of Rav Elyashiv, and the ספר קדושת בית הכנסת ובית המדרש pg. רנ"ט in the end of footnote 25 (who brings the Steipler andd Rav Elyashiv, and also) quotes Rav Yitzchok Yosef saying that Rav Ovadia Yosef also would place new unused seforim wrapped in paper on the floor.]

The Mishneh Berurah 334/50 bring this difference between seforim that were used and therefore have kedusha, and those that weren't used and don't have kedusha yet.

As far as sefarim in a bookcase are concerned, it might be more lenient even for used seforim, because they"re in a [open] container. However, in the same ארחות רבינו, it says that the Steipler was careful that the bottom shelf of his bookcase should be at least a tefach off the ground.

  • While relevant and perhaps a good starting point, this doesn't actually answer the question. Yes, sefarim stores can get away with what you write, however almost everyone else who does this is dealing with used sefarim. – Ploni May 28 '18 at 19:16

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