Sunday, 19 June 2022

Shema Before Shacharis

Question: In the Summer, I typically daven Shacharis too late to recite the Shema before it is too late. Do I need to say all three paragraphs before Shacharis, or just the first line?

Answer: The Mishna (Berachos 9b) teaches that there is a machlokes as to when one must recite the Shema by. The Gemara (Berachos 10b) teaches that the halacha follows R’ Yehoshua who says that it must be recited before the ‘third hour’. There is a machlokes as to how to calculate this time.

The Rema (OC 46:9) writes that it is ideal to recite the first line of the Shema followed by ‘baruch shem’ at the beginning of davening so as not to miss the latest time to recite the Shema.

One is obligated to recite the first two paragraphs mideoraisa while the third paragraph contains mention of yetzias mitzrayim. The Shulchan Aruch Harav (OC 46:9) notes that there are other places in pesukei dezimra where we mention yetzias mitzrayim. Nonetheless, the Mishna Berura (46:31) quotes the Pri Chadash (OC 46:9) and Chayei Adam (1:8:7) who write that one should ideally recite all three paragraphs.

R’ Avraham Yeshaya Pfoifer (Ishei Yisrael 18:17) writes that ideally one should recite all three paragraphs. If necessary, one could just recite the first paragraph. One who was really pressed for time could just say the first line of the Shema followed by ‘baruch shem’.

In conclusion, if one thinks they may not be able to recite the Shema in Shacharis before sof zeman kerias Shema, they should ideally recite all three paragraphs during the korbanos or before Shacharis.

Sunday, 12 June 2022

Interrupting Friday Night Dinner for Shema

Question: When we take Shabbos in early during the summer, should we recite kerias shema before birkas hamazon on Friday night, or wait until after the meal?

Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 235:2) writes that one must not sit down for a meal within half an hour of tzeis hakochavim, nightfall. If one did so, they must stop to recite kerias shema, though one can wait to say the rest of maariv. The Mishna Berura (235:21) explains that one would only need to stop eating for mitzvos mideoraisa. As the berachos of Shema are miderabbanan, one can wait to recite them.

Thus, the Rema (OC 489:4) writes that one who started the meal within half an hour of nacht must also interrupt to count the omer as there are rishonim who maintain that it is a mitzva mideoraisa even nowadays (See Mishna Berura 489:25).

Rambam (Kerias Shema 2:6) writes that it is praiseworthy to recite the shema in the middle of their meal if one is concerned that it will be too late to recite it afterwards (See Shulchan Aruch Harav OC 70:5).

However, the Shaagas Aryeh (21) argues that one must always interrupt a meal to recite kerias shema following the rule of tadir ve’sheino tadir, tadir kodam, the mitzva that we do most often takes precedence. One only needs to bentch after bread on Shabbos, though one is obligated to recite the shema every morning and night. He writes that this rule applies equally whether the mitzvos are mideoraisa or miderabannan. Therefore, it makes no difference as to whether counting the omer nowadays is mideoraisa or miderabannan; as it is less frequent than bentching on Shabbos, one should count after the meal.

In conclusion, if one mistakenly began their meal within half an hour of tzeis, they must interrupt their meal to recite kerias shema when it is nacht. One who started eating earlier may interrupt their meal if they are concerned that they may forget to say the shema. Otherwise, they can wait until after they have benchted.

Sunday, 22 May 2022

Someone Else’s Umbrella

Question: I accidentally took someone else’s umbrella in shul leaving mine behind. Could I have used it again to bring it back to shul the next morning?

Answer: The Gemara (Bava Metzia 43b) teaches that there is a machlokes as to the status of one who borrows an item without prior permission. Elsewhere, the Gemara (Bava Basra 46a) teaches that one who took the wrong clothes from a craftsman in error may use them until they are exchanged with the rightful owners. However, one who took the wrong clothes home from a shiva house or chasuna may not use them.

The Rema (CM 136:2) adds that one must return the items that one took to the rightful owner even if one does not receive their own items.

However, the Aruch Hashulchan (CM 136:2) writes that the accepted practice in populated areas is that one who accidentally took someone else’s overshoes may use them in the meantime, until they are exchanged with the rightful owners. As this is the accepted practice, it is not considered to be stealing.

R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 5:9:7) extends this to coats and other items that people mistakenly take, and advises that shuls adopt this as a matter of policy, allowing people to use theirs if taken by accident. If it transpires that the owner did not take theirs, they must offer to compensate the owner for the use of their clothing (See Mishne Halachos 5:276; Shevet Halevi 6:238).

R' Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:818) writes that one who may use an umbrella that one accidentally took home. People are typically not too bothered about lending umbrellas out to others and are happy for it to be replaced if necessary (See Minchas Yitzchak 8:146).

In conclusion, one who accidentally takes another’s umbrella home may continue to use it until they find the rightful owner. They are liable for any damage that may occur, and to replace it if necessary.

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Davening in Front of a Picture

Question: I sometimes daven in a shul hall where they have a big picture of their Rabbi on the back wall. Is this an issue?

Answer: The Gemara (Berachos 5b) teaches that one must ensure that there should not be any chatzitza, barrier, between one davening and the wall. The Beis Yosef (OC 90:21) explains that this does not apply to furniture such as tables and benches, but to wall hangings and pictures that may distract one in their tefilla. Therefore, Rambam (Teshuvos 215) writes that this applies equally to paintings on the wall. One who finds themselves in front of a picture should close their eyes or look into their siddur while davening (See Shulchan Aruch OC 90:23; Mishna Berura 90:63).

The Magen Avraham (90:37) adds that one may paint onto the wall that is high above one’s heads where it will not disturb anyone davening. The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 90:28) defines this as three amos.

The Tur (YD 141:14) writes that one should be careful not to include pictures of animals in a shul as one may get the wrong impression that one is bowing down to them. R' Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe YD 2:55) writes that the minhag to place a picture of a lion on the aron hakodesh is acceptable. Nonetheless, the Aruch Hashulchan adds that this prohibition is particularly true with pictures of people.

Nonetheless, the Mishna Berura (ibid.) notes that this is not strict halacha, and if one is in a room with pictures, one does not need to find a different place to daven.

In conclusion, one should not place pictures of people in shuls. One may daven in a room with such pictures hanging, particularly if one is not facing them. If one is facing the picture, they must try to close their eyes or look into their siddur while davening.

Sunday, 8 May 2022

Bentching over Wine

Question: Our second son recently turned bar mitzva and so we now have a zimun. Is it necessary to bentch over a kos of wine each time?

Answer: The Gemara (Pesachim 105b) teaches that one should bentch with a kos of wine. There is a machlokes among the rishonim as to when this applies.

Tosafos (Pesachim 105b) quotes the Rashbam and Midrash (Shocher Tov 3:8) who maintain that even one eating alone must not bentch without wine. The Tur (OC 182) writes that we follow Tosafos and adds that one who does not have wine for bentching, should not wash for bread.

The Hagahos Maimonios (Berachos 7:60) and Kol Bo (25) write that according to others, this only applies when one has a zimun of (at-least) three. Tosafos (ibid.) notes that this is the practice.

Nonetheless, Rambam (Berachos 7:15), the Rif (Pesachim 105b) and the Rashba (Berachos 52a) write that this is not an obligation, regardless of how many people are bentching.

The Shulchan Aruch (OC 182:1) records all of these opinions. The Rema adds that it is meritorious to bentch over wine. The Mishna Berura (128:1) writes that although the Shulchan Aruch does not determine how we pasken, it is considered meritorious to do so, but only when one has a zimun. R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:69:1) writes that the halacha follows Rambam and that the Rif, and there is no requirement to bentch over wine. The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 182:1) notes that people are not particular to bentch over a kos, particularly as wine is so expensive. Nonetheless, it is commendable to do so on Shabbos and Yom Tov.

In conclusion, it is not necessary to bentch over wine when one bentches with a zimun, but it is commendable to do so, particularly on Shabbos and Yom Tov. 

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Shaving for a Wedding in the Sefira

Question: I have been invited to a chasuna during the omer. Can I attend even if I am observing that 'half', and can I shave?

Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 493:1) writes that R’ Akiva’s students died during the omer (See Yevamos 62b). Therefore, we observe certain mourning practices during the omer, including no haircuts.

There are different minhagim as to which ’half of the Sefira’ to observe. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 493:2) writes that one should observe from the beginning until after Lag B’Omer, while the Rema allows one to take a haircut on Lag B’Omer. Others observe the ‘second half’, from Rosh Chodesh Iyar until Shavuos (See Rema OC 493:3; Magen Avraham 493:5). The Mishna Berura (493:14; Biur Halacha 493:3) explains that while there are different reasons for each of these minhagim¸ regardless, everybody observes these mourning practices for thirty-three days. However, some avoid taking haircuts throughout the omer except on erev Shavuos (See Shaarei Teshuva 493:8; Kaf Hachaim OC 493:13).

R' Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 4:84) writes that one observing ‘one half’ of the omer can attend a chuppa during that half, but should not participate in the chasuna.

However, R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky (Emes L’yaakov OC 493:n465), R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 1:159; 2:95) and R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Pesach 11:19) allow one to attend the chasuna and participate normally. As it is permissible for the chassan and kalla, everyone may participate.   

However, R’ Moshe Feinstein writes, that one attending a wedding may only shave if he would be too embarrassed to go unshaven. Had he been invited before the omer, he should have rather kept the other half so as not to have to rely on this leniency.

In conclusion, one may attend a wedding even while observing the omer, though one should not ordinarily shave. One who is embarrassed to go unshaven may do so, if necessary, though had they known in advance, they should have chosen to observe the ‘other half’ of the omer.

Sunday, 24 April 2022

Forgot to Make Eruv Tavshilin

Question: I arrived at Shul and realised that I had forgotten to make my eruv tavshilin. Should I have just relied on my Rav to have made eruv tavshilin on my behalf?

Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 527:7) writes that the Rav should make an eruv on behalf of anyone in his community who forgets or loses theirs. However, one cannot rely on this instead of choosing to make one. One who forgets two consecutive times is no longer considered accidental and it would not help to rely on this (Baer Heitev OC 527:6).

If one arrived in shul and realized that they had forgotten to make an eruv before Yom Tov, they should go home if they can still make one before Yom Tov. Alternatively, one may call home and ask someone else (such as one’s wife) to do so on their behalf. The Tiferes Yisroel (Beitza 2:1) writes that one can designate food that they have at home, and omit the words behadein eruva, with this eruv. However, R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 7:36) writes that this will not work. One who does so would be in violation of sating a beracha levatala as well as cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos.

The Mishna Berura (527:4) writes that one who forgot to make his eruv before shekia may do so (even with a beracha) during bein hashemashos (the period of time between shekia and tzeis hakochavim, nightfall). This would not apply once the shul had begun davening maariv or he had otherwise accepted Yom Tov upon himself.

In an emergency, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 527:22) even allows making one under strict conditions on the first day of Yom Tov (in chutz la’aretz), though this does not apply on Rosh Hashana (as there is no safeik deyoma).

In conclusion, while the Rav should make eruv tavshilin on behalf of others, that should only be relied on in emergency situations. One who came to shul and realised that they had forgotten should go home to make it or contact someone at home to do so on their behalf.

Sunday, 20 March 2022

Early Blossom

Question: I have a fruit tree that has started blossoming. Do I need to wait until the month of Nissan to recite the beracha on blossom? Does it matter that I have already seen the blossom, or can I still recite the beracha?

Answer: The Gemara (Berachos 43b) teaches that one should recite a beracha on a tree when it blossoms in the month of Nissan. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 226:1) writes that this beracha can only be recited once a year.

According to some poskim (Halachos Ketanos 2:28; Kaf Hachaim OC 226:1) the beracha should only be recited in the month of Nissan, though most poskim (Ritva, Rosh Hashana 11a; Mishna Berura 226:1; Aruch Hashulchan OC 226:1; Tzitz Eliezer 12:20:3) write that one should say it whenever when one first sees the blossom. R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 5:173) writes that he witnessed R’ Moshe Feinstein say the beracha in Iyar.

Thus, R’ Ovadia Yosef (Yabia Omer OC 8:8:4; Yechave Daas 1:1) writes that one should ideally wait until Nissan to recite the beracha, though one can still do so afterwards. R’ Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 10:16) writes that where trees blossom at different times, such as in Australia, one recites the beracha then (See Har Zvi OC 1:118; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:190).

While the Kaf Hachaim (OC 226:9) writes that one can only recite the beracha upon first seeing the blossom, most poskim (Machatzis Hashekel 226; Shaar Hatziyun 226:3; Halichos Shlomo, Nissan 2:5) write that one can recite it later if necessary.

In conclusion, one can say the beracha upon seeing blossom on a fruit tree even before the month of Nissan, though some are particular to wait for Kabbalistic reasons.


Sunday, 20 February 2022

Separate Minyan for Yahrzeit

Question: It is my father’s yahrzeit on Sunday, though there is another avel in my shul. Can I make a separate minyan on Motzaei Shabbos in my home?

Answer: The Gemara (Berachos 6a) teaches that tefilla is best accepted when davening in shul. One who chooses not to daven in their local shul is considered to be a ‘bad neighbour’ (ibid. 8a). Rambam (Tefilla 8:1) and the Shulchan Aruch (OC 90:11) codify this Gemara as halacha, though the Magen Avraham (90:15) adds another reason. The Gemara (Berachos 53a; Yoma 70a; Megilla 27b, et al.) teaches that berov am hadras melech, it is preferable to perform mitzvos with a large presence. Therefore, even when one can daven with a minyan in their home, one should still go to shul.

The Mishna Berura (90:38) adds that one should strive to daven in shul even if there is no minyan there. While one may not be considered a bad neighbour, nonetheless, a home minyan is not ideal as davening in a shul (See Shaarei Teshuva 90:4).

R’ Moshe Sternbuch (Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:127) writes that berov am hadras melech is both a mitzva and a zechus, which takes precedence of the minhag for one to daven on a relative’s yahrzeit. While splitting the minyan into two would accommodate two chiyuvim, that would not justify davening outside of a shul.

In conclusion, one should rather daven in shul rather than a minyan at home, even if it means not being able to be chazzan on a yahrzeit. Indeed, the Gemara (Berachos 8a) teaches us that being meticulous to attend shul properly leads to long life.

Sunday, 13 February 2022

Rainbow Blessings

Question: Is it true that one should not tell others when they see a rainbow?

Answer: The Gemara (Berachos 59a) teaches that one recites a beracha upon a seeing a rainbow, recalling the bris that Hashem made with Noach, and His assurance that the world would never undergo such a mabul again. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 229:1) writes that one should not stare at the rainbow (See Beis Yosef OC 229:1 where he quotes the Rosh). The Gemara (Chagiga 16a) teaches that looking at a rainbow is considered disrespectful to Hashem and that doing so can weaken one’s eyesight. The Pri Megadim (Eshel Avraham OC 229:2) asks why the Magen Avraham (229:2 and Baer Hetiv OC 229:2) quotes the Shela as saying this when this teaching can be found in the Gemara.

Thus, the Mishna Berura (229:5), Aruch Hashulchan (OC 229:2) and Kaf Hachaim (OC 229:5) stress that one should look briefly and then recite the beracha.

The Chayei Adam (63:4) writes that he once saw in a sefer that one who sees a rainbow should not tell their friend as it is akin to reporting bad news (See Mishna Berura 229:4). He adds that he does not remember where he read this, however. Nonetheless, the Mishna Berura (229:1) and Kaf Hachaim (OC 229:1) quote this unequivocally.

However, the Sefer Chassidim discusses whether it is appropriate to leave shul during chazaras hashatz when hearing about a rainbow, without any mention of such restrictions. R’ Moshe Cohen (Bris Kehuna OC 100:4) argues that one should tell others when they see a rainbow. Rather than being seen as something negative, the rainbow should inspire us to be grateful for being spared. Additionally, by telling others, one is giving them an opportunity to recite a beracha (See Yalkut Yosef OC 229:1).

In conclusion, while many refrain from telling others when they see a rainbow, there are compelling reasons to do so.

Monday, 31 January 2022

Bar Mitzva and Yartzheits in a Leap-Year

Question: Our son was born in Adar and he turns thirteen during a leap-year. I was always under the assumption that he turns Bar Mitzva in Adar Sheni, but we were told to observe a relative’s yartzheit in Adar Rishon. Are they not the same?

Answer: There is a machlokes among the Rishonim as to whether ‘Adar’ during a leap-year generally refers to Adar Rishon or Adar Sheni. Rambam (Nedarim 10:6) writes that ‘Adar’ refers to Adar Sheni (See Kesef Mishna), while the Ran (Nedarim 63b) and Rosh (Nedarim 63a) write that it refers to Adar Rishon.

The Mishna Berura (427:3) writes that for the sake of clarity the chazan should ideally announce ‘Adar Rishon’ during mevarchim hachodesh.

When one’s relative passes away during one of the Adar’s in a leap year, the yahrzeit is observed during that same month in a leap year; either Adar Rishon or Adar Sheni. However, when one’s relative passes away during Adar in a non-leap year, there is a machlokes as to which month the yahrzeit should be observed in. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 568:7) writes that it should be observed in Adar Sheni. The Kaf Hachaim (OC 568:76) notes that this is the main Sefardi practice (See Bach YD 2201:12; Shach YD 220:16). Nonetheless, the Shulchan Aruch (CM 43:28) writes that in legal documents, it is presumed to be Adar Rishon.

The Rema (YD 402:12; OC 427:1; 568:7 quoting the Terumas Hadeshen 294; Mahari Mintz 9) disagrees, writing that it should be observed in Adar Rishon. (See Mateh Moshe 766; Chochmas Adam 171:11; Gesher Hachaim 32:10), though notes (OC 568:7) that some observe both (See Mishna Berura 568:42; Chassam Sofer OC 163; Tzitz Eliezer 22:39).

The Rema (OC 55:10) writes that a boy born in Adar in a non-leap year must wait until Adar Sheni to be considered Bar Mitzva as only then is he thirteen halachic years old.

In conclusion, a boy born in Adar in a regular year must wait until Adar Sheni to celebrate his Bar Mitzva. Sefardim typically observe yartzheits of those who pass away in Adar in a regular year, in Adar Sheni, while Ashkenazim typically do so in Adar Rishon.

Sunday, 23 January 2022

Tallis for Aliya

Question: I am single and do not wear a tallis while davening. Do I need to make a beracha when I wear one to daven for the amud or for an aliya?

Answer: The Aruch Hashulchan (OC 91:2) and Kaf Hachaim (OC 147:4) write that one who receives an aliya (or any other kibbud) should wear a tallis out of respect for the tzibbur. The Magen Avraham (14:1) quotes the Rosh who writes that one who wears a tallis to lead the davening or to duchen recites a beracha.

The Mishna Berura (14:11; Biur Halacha 14:3) writes that there is a machlokes as to whether one recites a beracha when borrowing a tallis. This specifically applies to borrowing a friend’s tallis. However, one does recite a beracha when wearing a tallis that belongs to the shul, as the tallis partly belongs to him. He suggests, therefore, that it is preferable to borrow a friend’s tallis to avoid the safek of saying a beracha.

Nonetheless, the Kaf Hachaim (OC 14:14 quoting the Ben Ish Chai), R’ Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Halichos Shlomo, Tefilla 3:12), R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 5:14:2) and R’ Menashe Klein (Mishne Halachos 9:234) write that one does not recite a beracha even when wearing a shul tallis for an aliya. R’ Greenblatt explains that the shul tallis was not necessarily bought on behalf of the shul members, but likely an old tallis that one no longer needed.

In conclusion, one recites a beracha when wearing their own tallis. One who borrows one to for daven for the amud or for an aliya does not recite a beracha.

Sunday, 16 January 2022

Torah On Display

Question: I am always confused as to how exactly to do hagbah and so always refuse to do it if asked. Is there a particular way to open the Torah and turn?

Answer: The Gemara (Megilla 32a) teaches that the honour of gelilah is equal to all of the other honours. The Shulchan Aruch (OC 147:1) adds that this honour is typically auctioned to the highest bidder. The Mishna Berura (147:5) writes that this applies to the way we do hagbah today, and notes that it is no longer treated this way. Ramban (Devarim 27:26) writes very strongly about the importance of performing the mitzva of hagbah and gelilah properly.

The Magen Avraham (134:3) quotes Maseches Sofrim (14:14) which writes that the Torah should be opened three columns and shown to everyone as there is a mitzva for everyone to see and bow towards it. The Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (23:25) and R’ Betzalel Stern (Betzel Hachachma 5:54) write that it should specifically be opened three columns. The Mishna Berura (134:8) writes that one capable of safely opening it more should do so. The seam connecting the pages should be in the middle (See Shulchan Aruch OC 147:3; Aruch Hashulchan OC 147:13).

The Mishna Berura (134:9) adds that one should turn in a clockwise direction. One should turn slowly, allowing everyone to see the Torah.

In conclusion, one should open the Sefer Torah at least three columns, and turn slowly in a clockwise direction, allowing everyone to see the writing.

Sunday, 9 January 2022

Mussaf Before Shacharis

Question: I forgot that it was Rosh Chodesh and so arrived late to shul. Should I have davened shacharis while the kehilla were davening mussaf, or davened mussaf with them and davened shacharis afterwards?

Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 286:1) writes that the correct time for mussaf is after shacharis. The Rema adds that if one davened mussaf before shacharis they have still fulfilled their obligation.

The Gemara (Zevachim 90b) discusses which rule takes precedence, that of tadir, the more frequent of two objects takes precedence, or mekudash, the one of greater sanctity. R’ Yitzchak Elchanan Spector (Baer Yitzchak OC 20) argues that if one missed davening shacharis betzibur, they should at-least daven mussaf betzibur and daven shacharis later. While shacharis is an everyday occurrence, and therefore tadir, nonetheless, davening mussaf betzibur is considered mekudash, and so should be performed now, while one can do so with a minyan. While this applies to mussaf on Yom Tov, it does not necessarily apply to mussaf on rosh chodesh and chol hamoed.

R’ Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe OC 4:68) disagrees, writing that one must always daven shacharis before mussaf. Firstly, the Torah refers to the korban tamid as haolah, the olah, to emphasise that no korban precedes it (See Mishna Berura 286:5; Kaf Hachaim OC 286:12). Additionally, the rule of tadir means that one must daven shacharis before mussaf. Also, shacharis must be recited in the morning, while musaf can be recited throughout the day.

R' Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss (Minchas Yitzchak 6:36) adds that one who davens the shacharis amida while the tzibbur are davening mussaf may even be considered as davening tefilla betzibbur (See Rivevos Ephraim 8:345).

In conclusion, one who comes late to shul on a day when we daven mussaf must ensure that they daven shacharis first.

Sunday, 2 January 2022

Point at the Sefer Torah

Question: I see some people point at the Sefer Torah during hagba but could not find this in halacha. Are we supposed to do it, and is there a particular finger to point with?

Answer: The Shulchan Aruch (OC 134:2) writes that when the Torah is lifted, there is a mitzva for everyone to look at it, bow down, and say vezos hatorah.. The Rema (Darchei Moshe OC 147:4) notes that this was the practice of the Maharil. The Magen Giborim (Elef Hamagen 134:7) adds that it is a mitzva to bow towards the Sefer Torah.

R’ Zvi Pesach Frank (Har Zvi OC 1:64) notes that in the tefilla of berich shemei that we say when taking the Torah out, we say ‘desagidna kamei’ meaning to bow down before the Torah. He questions why people are not particular about this halacha. He quotes the Shiltei Hagiborim (Kiddushin 14b) who writes that while it is important to stand for the Torah and those who learn it, we do not find anywhere in the Torah that people bowed to the aron hakodesh. Nonetheless, he concludes, we should follow the Shulchan Aruch and bow (See Sheyarei Knesses Hagedola YD 282).

R’ Chaim Falaji (Sefer Chaim 3:6; Lev Chaim OC 167:6) justifies the custom, explaining why it is not inappropriate to point. He does not give any source for this custom, however.

R’ Ephraim Greenblatt (Rivevos Ephraim 2:80:23; 5:215) notes that the halacha of pointing at hagba is not to be found in either the Siddur Harav or the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch Harav, etc. Nor is there any source among the classical commentaries for pointing.

In conclusion, there is no reason to point at the Sefer Torah during hagba. One should bow towards the Sefer Torah instead.