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Saving Documents from Damage on Shabbos


If a person is a lawyer by profession and he has a lot of client documents and other documents related to his business stored in a study in his house, and there is a flood in the study on shabbos, is he allowed to remove the papers from the study to save them?


It would not be permitted to move the items in a regular manner. Authorities dispute the question of moving the documents with one’s body (for instance, with one’s teeth), and in cases of need, one may be lenient.

Sources: Important documents would probably fall under the category of mukzeh machmas chisaron kis, as well as being mukzeh machmas gufo. Concerning the latter category, we find a leniency of moving the item with one’s body (Chazon Ish disputes the leniency, but most are lenient, following the view of Mishnah Berurah and most poskim). Concerning the former, however, Beis Yosef (intro. to 308) implies that the leniency does not apply, a ruling cited in Peri Megadim (ibid.). However, Tosefes Shabbos (3) writes that the leniecy applies even to mukzeh machmas chisaron kis, as quoted by Kaf Ha-Chaim (10), and one may rely on this opinion in a hour of need. See also Yalkut Yosef, 308, who arrives at the same conclusion.

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