Sunday, 10 April 2016

Moving a Sefer Torah

Question: Our family are going away for Shabbos and will have a Minyan. Can we take a sefer Torah with us even though we’ll only lein from it twice?
Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 135:14; 584:3) writes that one mustn’t take a sefer Torah to prison so that one can hear leining even on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur unless it’s for an important individual. The Mishna Berura (135:46) explains that this wouldn’t be kavod for the sefer Torah. Nonetheless, the Mishna Berura writes that this halacha specifically applies to an individual. One can take a sefer Torah to a prison or hospital if there is a minyan there. The Kaf Hachaim (OC 135:74) quotes the Zohar who takes a strict stance on this halacha though writes that if a minyan accompany the sefer Torah, then it may be moved.
The Rema (OC 135:14) writes that one who transports a sefer Torah should prepare a place for it in advance. The Kaf Hachaim (OC 135:83) and Mishna Berura (135:49) write that it is sufficient to prepare a suitable place that day. R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:694) stresses that ideally it should be kept in an aron hakodesh rather than on a table. Likewise, R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer 9 OC 15:3) writes that while R’ Yaakov Emden (Mor Uketziah 135) disapproved of taking a sefer Torah into shiva houses, that was only because children run around. If they are looked after respectfully in an aron hakodesh, however, then it is permitted.
The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 135:32) writes that the minhag is to ensure that the sefer Torah is leined from on at least three occasions. Yet, many poskim question the mekor of this minhag (See Yabia Omer 9 OC 15:5)
R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 5:219) writes that while he heard from R’ Moshe Feinstein that there is no mekor for this minhag, it is commendable, and one shouldn’t move sifrei Torah around when possible (See Tzitz Eliezer 17:12).
In conclusion, while many poskim allow taking a sefer Torah away for a private minyan, it should be stored in an aron hakodesh and treated respectfully. 

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