A person who has respect for Torah books will be sure to
return them to their place on the bookshelf when he has finished using them.
To leave them piled up on the table is a sign of disrespect. It shows that
he doesn’t care that they are left in disorder and that they might fall
and be damaged. Moreover, other talmidim who need them will waste a lot of
time looking for them, and certainly, it is unacceptable for a talmid
chochom to leave it for another talmid chochom to put the books
he used back on the shelf. According to the Rebbe of Lublin, returning books
to their place after they have been used is a segula for a good
No books should be placed on top of a Chumash.
There is no problem with binding all the books of the Tanach together,
even though, when reading from the Nach, pages of Nach will
lie on top of the Chumash, because the Tanach is considered a
single book. Nevertheless, no other books should be bound together with the Chumash.
Only a Chumash may be placed on top of a Tanach.
It is forbidden to place seforimof Oral Lawand Siddurim on
It is permitted to place Nevi’im on Katuvim,
and Katuvim on Nevi’im because they have the same kedushah.
The halachah permits placing sifrei Acharonim on
top of volumes of the Gemora because the Acharonim are commenting on
the Gemoraand frequently cite the Gemora. Nevertheless there were
several Gedolim who were stringent in this matter, and placed volumes
of Gemoraon top of the works of Rishonim, and the works of
the Rishonim on top of the commentaries of the Acharonim.
It is forbidden to place the case that covers tefillin on
top of a siddur. And, of course, it is forbidden to place a hat on
top of a siddur.
It is forbidden to place an article of clothing over a
Torah book unless it is for the benefit of the Torah book.
A person should not leave a Torah book open if he walks
away from it, though if someone else is present, it is permitted. The reason
is that if may be damaged if something is spilled on it. Also, it causes a
person to forget his learning. Some are lenient in this matter if they are
just going to the next room, or intend to return shortly. The Yados
Nedarim writes that he is lenient because it’s a waste of time to
close and open the books. It is permitted to leave a Torah book open if it
benefits it, as when a book needs airing out.
When a person has to take a break in the middle of
learning, he should close the books he is using or cover them with a cloth
(not with another book). It is not necessary to close them completely. If he
closes it to the title page or empty pages at the beginning it is good
enough, since the text is not exposed.