Shaimos is one of those not-so-obscure Jewish laws that no one really knows much about, especially Baal Teshuvas. I discovered this recently while helping a friend clean out their apartment. I had stacked up a bunch of those photo-copied torah sheets ranging from Pirkei Avos to the parshas shavua. He said he didn’t want to save them and was going to throw them out until I stopped him. Dude, you cant throw those out I stated with some air of FFB authority. Why not? They are just photo-copies after all he surmised. This point was moot because aren’t all siddurim and chumashim merely photo-copies with only old editions being hand printed.
This event led to the classic barrage of crazy BT questions that you yourself would never think of, but probably should. Do I have to save all Jewish books. Lets say they are sort of Jewish, or maybe kabala. How about pictures of Rabbis, or toy Torahs? What about articles about Jews or Torah? Along with millions of others that had me flustered and frustrated.
It did cross through my mind to take my infamous and offensive post on the best ways to mess with BT’s to heart and proceed to mess with my friend. But I thought better of it, I could have just told him to save everything with the word God mentioned, since God is an ambiguous term and may be talking about Hashem. I could have said that all things written by Jews should be saved, regardless of whether it was written by Alan Dershowitz, Noam Chomsky or the Steipler. I could have told him to save the door panels that the mezuzas are attached to since they are holy objects, and I could have said that Jewish newspapers should be saved. (Wait do papers with torah like the Yated and Jewish Press need to be saved- serious question)
But I withheld and tried to be a ghetto posek and answer as many questions as possible. Maybe you guys help out, because shaimos is one of those things that is seldom talked about, maybe its some conspiracy or something. It is also one of those things that I know nothing about, save for the dude in the Woodbourne Seforim Store telling me that tzitzis could in fact be thrown away, but that it’s not politically correct to do so.