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Shaimos Guidelines: Discarding Holy Objects

As we clean for Passover, we tend to use the opportunity to de-clutter our homes as well. We find that over the course of the year we manage to collect a sizeable collection of Torah and mitzvah related material. Since the Torah requires us to treat holy writings and objects with dignity even when they won’t be used anymore, many of these items cannot be thrown out in the regular garbage. These items, known colloquially as shaimos, must be discarded in the respectful manner that is outlined in halachah. Many cities have an organization that deals with shaimos burial. People collect their personal shaimos materials and place them either in a designated bin, or, as is the practice in Toronto, wait for a city wide shaimos collection. Just as it is important to clarify which items belong in shaimos, it is also important to know what is not considered shaimos, since there are times that it is considered disrespectful to bury non-shaimos with regular shaimos.

Ø  The following are special status shaimos and should be wrapped in plastic before being placed in shaimos:

·         Tefillin, mezuzot, and megilot

Ø  The following are considered shaimos and should not be discarded into the regular garbage or the recycling bin:

·         Chumashim, siddurim, benchers, mishnayot, gemara, Torah commentaries, Shulchan Aruch and Halacha seforim etc.

·         Covers of the seforim mentioned above

·         Mezuza covers, tefillin straps, boxes and bags

·         Paper that contains Hashem’s name

Ø  The following should be placed in shaimos or when difficult it should be discarded respectfully by wrapping them before placing them in the recycling bin:

·         Printed material which by their nature are not intended to be saved,

 i.e. weekly Divrei Torah flyers, Torah articles printed in newspapers and magazines. (The rest of the newspaper or magazine is not shaimos, and should not be placed in shaimos.)

·         Children’s Lemudai kodesh homework and parsha sheets

·         Invitations that contain additional pesukim (verses) besides the standard Od Yeshama

 

Ø  The following should be discarded respectfully by wrapping them before placing them in the recycling bin (if not accepted in the recycling bin then place them wrapped into the regular garbage):

 

·         Tzitzis, tzitzis strings, and talleisim

·         Kippot

·         Lulav, esrog, schach

·         Tallis bags, tallis and tefillin plastics

 

Ø  The following are not shaimos and should preferably be discarded in the recycling bin (if not accepted in the recycling bin then place them into the regular garbage):

 

·         CDs, DVDs, tapes, computer disks that contain Torah shiurim

·         Torah-themed projects and pictures – provided that no pesukim (verses) are displayed

·         Invitations that contain only the standard Od Yeshama and no additional pesukim (verses)

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