Recently, I went to a liberal Christian seminary to use their library materials. Throughout the building, English translations of passages from the Tanakh (and probably the Christian New Testament) were engraved on the floor. Is it right to assume that there is a problem with stepping over those engravings? What would be the relevant references for this situation?

Is there a halachic problem with the Columbia University seal on the floor of the library? is relevant but seems focused on cases in which one or another of the names of God appears in Hebrew. Columbia is also a secular university, where use of the seal might be regarded as simply a matter of tradition, whereas the seminary clearly engraved the words as an expression of Christian piety.

While researching a different problem, I came across a Conservative teshuva on shemot that argued that sacred books prepared by Gentiles for Gentile use are not sanctified, but, aside from the question of whether or not non-Orthodox opinions are valid, I am unsure if this situation is sufficiently similar. (I also have not read through the teshuva in full, so I may be missing context.)

  • 1
    "aside from the question of whether or not non-Orthodox opinions are valid"... more to the point: whether or not this particular one is correct
    – msh210
    Commented Jan 19, 2019 at 19:55
  • As you mentioned it was written or engraved by a min,and secondly anything that is placed on the floor is considered mundane ,since no respectful article is placed on the floor
    – sam
    Commented Jan 20, 2019 at 2:54

1 Answer 1


In many areas, we distinguish between two aspects of a "transgression" - objective (חפצא) and subjective (גברא) (many address only the objective one).

So if you ask objectively, those writings bear no holiness, as nobody learns from them, they are carved by gentiles and for gentiles. So even a Torah scroll that's inscribed by a gentile with holy names bears no holiness.

Subjectively, however, it is not a good taste for a Jew to walk over those writings because of two reasons:

  1. It may eventually cause him to disregard the real holy writings

  2. It may cause others that see you walking over, saying - "Oh, see that Jew that desecrates the Holy Writings by stepping over".

You must log in to answer this question.

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