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Reading Material on Shabbos (Computer Books/Captions)

1) Regarding reading non-torah books on Shabbos. If someone gets a lot of joy from reading about a particular interest. Let’s say like someone involved with computers that enjoys reading detailed books on computers for fun. Can they read those books on shabbos? On the one hand it is for pleasure, but on the other hand the knowledge may one day help the person in his field of work?
2) The gemara talks about not reading picture with captions under them? Does this gezeira still apply today? Can one not read a newspaper on shabbos that has pictures with captions under them?

Answer:

The custom is to be lenient with regard to reading non-Torah books of wisdom on Shabbos. This would include computer books, provided that the books deal with the “wisdom of computers,” and not with on-hand instructions on how computers should be used. See Mishnah Berurah (307:65). In a similar vein to the question, see Nishmas Shabbos (307:5) who writes that it is permitted for a doctor to read biology books on Shabbos.

The prohibition of looking at a picture and reading the caption under it applies even today. When looking at pictures on Shabbos one should avoid reading the caption. See Shabbos 149a, Rashi “kesav,” Rosh 23:2, Shulchan Aruch 307:15, Levush 15. The reason for this (as Mishnah Berurah cites) is that one may come to read business documents. However, it would be permitted to read the caption without looking at the picture, and the prohibition is only to read the caption together with looking at the picture (Masas Shabbos p. 424 note 1).


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