Questions: I have always enjoyed relaxing on Friday night with the newspaper, though someone told me that I mustn’t read it on Shabbos. Is that true?
Answer: The Gemara (Shabbos 113b) teaches us that the manner of speech on Shabbos should be different to that of the weekday. Thus, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 307:1) writes that one mustn’t discuss future business deals on Shabbos. The Mishna Berura (317:5) writes that this is the reason for wishing others ‘Good Shabbos’ or ‘Shabbat Shalom’ rather than ‘Good morning’, etc.
Elsewhere, the Gemara (Shabbos 149a) writes that one mustn’t read a shtar hedyot (common document) on Shabbos. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 307:17) writes that there is a machlokes as to what this includes. Rambam (Mishnayos Shabbos 23:2) and the Baal Hamaor (quoted by the Beis Yosef OC 307:17) write that it refers to regular letters. Thus, one mustn’t read anything other than Torah on Shabbos. The Rashba (Shabbos 149a; Shut Harashba 7:288) understands shtar hedyot as business documents and quotes the Ramban who agrees.
Based on this, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 307:13) writes that one shouldn’t read business related works on Shabbos.
Nonetheless, the Magen Avraham (OC 301:4) writes that if one really enjoys reading something, they may do so on Shabbos. Thus, R’ Yaakov Emden (She’elas Yaavetz 1:162) allows one to read newspapers on Shabbos if they enjoy it, though he cautions against reading relevant business news or adverts. Similarly, the Mishna Berura (307:63; Shaar Hatziyun 307:71) writes that while some permit reading newspapers, others prohibit it because it contains business related information. R’ Yehoshua Neuwirth (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa 29:46) agrees, though points out that the newspaper content must be appropriate for Shabbos.
In conclusion, one who enjoys reading the newspaper may do so on Shabbos though they must be careful not to read relevant adverts.