Looking at pictures, or illustrations, on Shabbos and reading the captions that describe it:
It is permitted to look at pictures on Shabbos. [Nonetheless, it is not proper to use one’s time on Shabbos for looking at pictures, if he can use it for Torah learning.]
Reading the descriptions under the pictures: It is forbidden to read the captions that are under a picture and describe the people, or events associated with it. This applies to [all] pictures [whether on] a wall, curtain [or in a book]. It is forbidden to read the caption even in one’s mind, without verbalizing the words. This prohibition applies even if one derives pleasure and excitement from reading the captions under the pictures. This prohibition applies even if the picture is of matters discussed in Tanach, such as the battle between Dovid and Goliath [or Akeidas Yitzchak]. This prohibition applies even if the caption is engraved onto the picture, and not written, [with exception to if it is engraved on a wall, in which case a concave engraving may be read].
The cases of exception: In the following cases, it is permitted to read the captions that are found under a picture:
- One is reading it for the sake of a Mitzvah or for the sake of learning Torah [such as pictures found in Torah books for the sake of illustrating a Halacha or Sugya].
- The caption discusses a matter that pertains to the public.
- The caption discusses matters that pertains to one’s health [such as a safety sign]. In such a case one may read it in one’s mind.
- The caption is engraved in a wall.
Although it is permitted to look at pictures on Shabbos, nevertheless, it is forbidden to read the captions even in one’s mind, without verbalization, unless the matter pertains to a Mitzvah, Torah learning, or a public matter. If it pertains to a health matter, one may read it without verbalization.
May one read the captions under pictures found in a Sefer, such as a Chumash, Gemara, Mishnayos, and the like?
One may do so in the process of learning Torah, and for the purpose of learning. Furthermore, some learn that one may do so even out of curiosity [not in the midst of learning] as the pictures in Torah Sefarim bring one to learn from the Sefer.
May one read the captions on sports cards and the like?
May one read the captions on pictures of Tzadikim?
Some write that it is permitted to do so, as it purpose is to bring one closer to fear of Heaven, and is hence considered done for the sake of a Mitzvah.
 Admur Kuntrus Achron 301:2 “If even during the week its permitted, from where would we get to prohibit it on Shabbos?”; [Now, although Admur ibid records a dispute regarding if one may look at pictures [Diyoknos] even during the week [see Shabbos 149a], that is only in his analyzation of the opinion of the M”A 301:5, however, in truth we rule that one may look at pictures during the week, so long as they were not made for purposes of idolatry. (Michaber Y.D. 142:15; Shach 142:33; Rosh 23:2; Tosafus Shabbos ibid)] P”M 301 A”A 5; Chemed Moshe 3012; Mamar Mordechai 301:2; Piskeiy Teshuvos 307:22
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is forbidden to look at pictures on Shabbos. [Chazon Ish, brought in Orchos Rabbeinu 3:238]
 See Admur 307:2 and 290:5
 Admur 307:29 “A wall or curtain which contains designs of different animals or sketches of people [portraying] historical events, such as the battle of David and Goliath, and it is written under [these portraits] “this is the figure of this animal” and “this is the portrait of this person”, it is forbidden to read this writing on Shabbos due to a decree that one may come to read layman documents.”; Michaber 307:15; Shabbos 149a as explained in Rashi
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is permitted to read the captions written under pictures for the sake of pleasure, as will be explained in coming footnotes.
 The reason: This is due to a decree that one may come to read layman documents. [Admur ibid; Kuntrus Achron ibid; Rashi ibid; Rosh 23:1; Beis Yosef 307; Levush 307; M”B 307:57] Alternatively, the reason is due to worry that one may come to erase the words. [Rambam, brought in Kuntrus Achron ibid; Semak and Ran, brought in Elya Raba 307:37 and Kaf Hachaim 307:109] The practical ramification between the two reasons is if one may read engraved captions. [Elya Raba ibid]
 Makor Chaim 307; Piskeiy Teshuvos 307:22
 Admur ibid; Rabbeinu Yonah, brought in Rosh ibid; Olas Shabbos 307:19; Kaf Hachaim 307:108
 Admur Kuntrus Achron 301:2 “If the M”A intended to permit the reading of the captions, this requires great analysis, as how can we permit a Rabbinical decree simply due to pleasure. Should we permit doing business on Shabbos due to pleasure? Chas Veshalom to suggest such a thing, and it is obvious that we do not push off a prohibition due to the Mitzvah of Oneg, as this is a Mitzvah Haba Baveira.”; Elya Raba 301:6; Chemed Moshe 3012; Mamar Mordechai 301:2; Menorah Hatehora 301:4; Aruch Hashulchan 301:44; Kaf Hachaim 301:12; Shaar Hatziyon 301:7; Piskeiy Teshuvos 307:22; See Beir Moshe 6:66, and Ketzos Hashulchan 107:2
Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is permitted to read the captions written under pictures for the sake of pleasure. [Possible way of understanding M”A 301:4, and so understands P”M 301 A”A 5; See Admur in Kuntrus Achron ibid who questions the understanding in the M”A ibid]
 Olas Shabbos 307:18; Elya Raba 307:36; P”M 307 A”A 21; Kaf Hachaim 307:107
 Admur ibid; Michaber ibid; Rashi ibid
 Admur 307:22; Kaf Hachaim 307:109
 Orchos Rabbeinu 1:140; Piskeiy Teshuvos 307:22 footnote 187
 Admur 307:23
 Admur 307:24
 Admur 307:25
 Admur 307:22
 Orchos Rabbeinu 1:140
 Mishnas Yosef 7:72; Chazon Ovadia 6:45; Migdanos Eliyahu; Piskeiy Teshuvos 307 footnote 187
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