Honoring the Sefer Torah

It is written (Masechet Sofrim 14:1) that the pious people of Jerusalem had the practice of showing great honor to the Torah when it was being brought out to be read. Similarly, the Rama writes (Orah Haim 149:1) that it is a Mitzvah to accompany the Torah when it is being brought from the Hechal to the Teva, or vice versa, as a sign of respect. Furthermore, the Maharil applies the concept of “Berov Am Hadrat Melech” to accompanying the Torah, meaning that the greater the multitude of people involved in a Mitzvah, the more the Torah, and by extension, Hashem, is glorified. The Mitzvah of accompanying and walking behind the Torah is incumbent on those before whom the Torah passes. Those who are further away, however, do not have accompany it, although it is praiseworthy to do so.

Additionally, Rabbi Avraham Azoulay (Sefer HaLevush 149:1) says that there is a Mitzvah to kiss the Sefer Torah. He learns this from an a fortiori (“Kal Vahomer”) logic; just as one is obligated to kiss one’s Tefillin, which only contains portions of the Torah, one is certainly obligated to kiss the entire Torah. This is also written by the Arizal (Sha’ar HaKavanot, pg. 48), who was known to kiss the Torah itself, not simply by touching it and then kissing his hand.

Furthermore, Rabbi Eliezer Waldenberg (Tzitz Eliezer vol. 12, § 40) disapproves of the practice of bringing the Torah towards people, or lowering it for children, so that they may kiss it, as this does not show honor to the Torah. Rather, people should themselves go towards the Torah to kiss it. Rabbi Benzion Mutzafi (Orhot Zion, pg. 315) says that the Torah may be lowered slightly for someone who is wheelchair-bound for example, in order to touch or kiss the Torah.

Summary:   There are several forms of honor accorded to the Sefer Torah such as accompanying it or kissing it.

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