Sefer Torah (II)

  1. The question was raised before Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach
    whether it was appropriate to kiss the Sefer Torah. According to the Shulchan
    Aruch (Yore Deah 116:5) it is forbidden to place coins in the mouth because
    everybody touches them. Since everyone touches the cloth that covers the Sefer
    Torah, it would seem that it would also be forbidden to kiss it. Harav Auerbach
    answered that the custom is not to be concerned about that, because before
    davening, everyone washes his hands, so while people touch coins with hands that
    may be soiled, they touch the Sefer Torah with clean hands. Also, when a person
    does a mitzvah he is guarded from evil.

  2. The person called to lift the Torah from the bimah should
    be the most important of the persons who were called up to the Torah. The
    person who lifted it should roll and close the Torah together with the person
    who covers it. Chazal said that the reward for doing this is as great as the
    reward of all the others put together. The custom, now, is that a person who
    has not been called to the Torah lifts the Torah, and that this honor is not
    limited to people of special stature.

  3. When the Sefer Torah is lifted after being removed from the lectern, it
    should be turned so that the entire congregation, i.e., those standing to the
    right, to the left, to the front and to the back, can see the written text of
    the Torah scroll, and, with a gesture of bowing, say, “This is the Torah which
    Moshe placed before the Children of Israel, etc.” This should only be said upon
    seeing the written text of the Torah, though the recitation can be continued
    after the text is no longer in view.

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