Thursday, June 25, 2009

Traveling Torah

R. Gedalia Dov Schwartz, Sha'arei Gedulah, pp. 250-252:

The author of Shulchan Aruch, Rabbi Yosef Karo, rules that it is prohibited to bring a Sefer Torah to a prison for the people who are confined there, even for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.[20] The source of this is a text from the Yerushalmi which states that it is proper respect to go to the Torah, rather than to bring it to another place.[21] However, Rema comments that if the Sefer Torah is prepared a day or two beforehand, then it would be permissible in all circumstances. This is explained by the later poskim to mean that it should remain in an ark or befitting closet after its reading for a day or two.

Click here to read moreHowever, there exists a seemingly popular view that there is a minhag that it should be read three times in that place,[22] and if not, then the Torah should not be taken there. Nevertheless, this minhag of necessarily reading from the Torah three times is not mentioned by any of the poskim regarding the prison situation. The consensus of the rabbinic decisors following the ruling of the Rema interprets his statement as explained above concerning placing the Sefer Torah in an Aron Kodesh or closet to establish a sense of permanence for a day or two.[23] In the commentary Shaarei Rachamim on the classic sefer Shaarei Ephraim on the laws of Torah reading, the author cites poskim who categorically reject the application of the minhag.[24]

Of course the ramifications of the Rema's ruling apply to such situations as in the house of a mourner or a special minyan convened for a particular event, such as a Bar Mitzvah, conventions at hotels, etc. Nevertheless, for actual practice the local rabbinic authority should be consulted as in all matters of halacha and minhag, since the congregation or community might have a certain custom regarding this matter.

[20] Orach Chaim, 135:14
[21] Yoma, perek 7
[22] See Aruch Hashulchan, 135:32
[23] See Mishna Brura and Beiur Halacha, which do not mention the necessity for these readings
See also: this post.

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