Sheimos Guidelines

Updated May 2024

The Torah forbids discarding objects with innate kedusha (holiness) into the trash or recycling bin. Objects which have innate kedusha must be placed in sheimos, which must be buried.

(Objects that acquire kedusha after being used for a mitzvah do not need to be placed in sheimos but do need to be disposed of with special sensitivity. This is discussed further below.)

SHEIMOS: Disposing of Objects with Kedusha

The following objects are included in this category:

  • Any of the names of Hashem
  • Sefer Torah or Sefer Torah cover
  • Seforim, whether handwritten, printed, photocopied, or downloaded and printed (e.g., Chumashim, Siddurim, Machzorim, Gemara, Shulchan Aruch, etc.)
  • Bentchers
  • Pages of a sefer that became detached or fragments of a sefer, even if there is no writing or print on them
  • A sefer’s cover that has been removed from the sefer
  • Binding tape that became detached from a sefer
  • Printed material primarily intended to quote or explain Torah, even when containing non-Torah portions. This includes Mishna, Midrash, Gemara, Rishonim or Acharonim, and any three consecutive words of a posuk from Tanach that have been written on one line, with the intention of quoting Torah (as opposed to a melitza* which is not sheimos).**
  • Homework and test papers in limudei kodesh subjects when containing any of the the above
  • Material written or printed in English or any other non-Hebrew language if they conform with the above (material written or printed in Hebrew are not sheimos if they do not conform with the above)
  • Halachic and other Torah material (such as this article)
  • Tefillin or tefillin bag
  • Strings of a talis or tzitzis
  • Mezuzah or mezuzah cover
  • Invitations from organizations or individuals that contain parts of pesukim, written with the intention of quoting Torah – as opposed to a melitza ,which are often included in wedding invitations*

NOT SHEIMOS: Disposing of Objects That Were Used for a Mitzvah

Items that are not considered sheimos according to the above-noted rules but which were used for a mitzvah may still require sensitive handling before discarding, either by double or single wrapping. Refer to the guidelines below for which items belong in which category.

Items that should be double wrapped: Kli Besoch Kli

  • Jewish newspapers, magazines, novels and biographies with primarily non-Torah content should be double-wrapped before discarding. They should not be placed in sheimos as they degrade the real sheimos that are buried with them, especially if the advertisements and pictures are not within the spirit of Torah. (Any pages that do contain Torah may be removed and placed in sheimos if the other side of that page also contains Torah or is blank.)
  • Missionary material that contain pesukim
  • Tapes and CD’s containing divrei Torah

Items that should be single wrapped

  • Talis, talis bag, tzitzis – it is praiseworthy to remove the strings of a talis or tzitzis and place them in sheimos
  • S’chach of a sukkah
  • Arba minim: esrogim, lulavim, hadasim, aravos

NOT SHEIMOS: Disposing of Objects Without Kedusha

The following objects have no kedusha and can be discarded directly into the trash or recycling bin. These items do not need to be wrapped:

  • Yarmulka or gartel
  • Books, newspapers or any other printed media in Hebrew that are completely secular
  • Bookmark that was used in a sefer
  • Plastic case that was used to protect a talis or tefilin bag
  • Pictures of gedolim
  • The Hebrew letters BS”D (b’siyata d’Shmaya)
  • The Hebrew letters IY”H (im yirtzeh Hashem), BE”H (b’ezras Hashem), and B”H (baruch Hashem), although it is considered an act of piety to tear off those letters and place them in sheimos. **


For a handy printable summary of these halachos, see the STAR-K Sheimos Guidelines chart available on our site.

* A phrase is considered a melitza when words of a posuk are quoted not to convey Torah but simply to make a sentence sound more eloquent. It is also an incidental use of a common expression. For example, the phrase, “kol sason ve’kol simcha,” frequently included in wedding invitations, is considered a melitza and is not sheimos.

** In the above cases, the sheimos or divrei Torah may be cut away from the paper and placed in sheimos.