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In what arm does one carry a Torah scroll?

In what arm does one carry a Torah scroll?


In the Code of Jewish Law1 it is written that a Torah scroll should be held in one's right arm (and rested on the right shoulder). This applies even if the one holding the Torah is left-handed. There are two verses that allude to this idea:

1) "From His right hand was a fiery Law for them" — Deuteronomy 33:2. The Torah was given from G‑d's right hand, as it were, and we therefore hold it in our right hand, too.

2) "And His right hand will embrace me" — Song of Songs 2:6. G‑d embraces us with His right hand, and we, in turn, embrace His holy Torah with our right hand.

According to Kabbalah, G‑d's "right hand" is an anthropomorphic metaphor for G‑d's attribute of Kindness, as opposed to the left hand which alludes to the divine attribute of Severity. The Torah was given to us with lovingkindness, and with it G‑d lovingly embraces us. We reciprocate by approaching the Torah with a deep love and appreciation, which even expresses itself in the way we carry it around!

Yours truly,

Rabbi Yisroel Cotlar


Rama in Orach Chaim 134.

Rabbi Yisroel Cotlar is a Chabad rabbi in Cary, North Carolina. He is also a member of the Ask the Rabbi team.
All names of persons and locations or other identifying features referenced in these questions have been omitted or changed to preserve the anonymity of the questioners.
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Judy CA October 17, 2017

is the a Hebrew name for the person who carries the Torah in the processional? Reply

Anonymous USR, NJ September 26, 2011

Holding the Torah During Hagbah, is it illegal to hold the Torah if it is rolled by the parchment? Is it wrong for a person touches the outside (back, unwritten side) of the scroll? Reply

Rabbi Yisroel Cotlar October 11, 2007

Re: 1) Although this practice is clearly mentioned in the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, (23:1) it is not necessary to make a scene on the spot! It would probably be best to later inform the person that for the future...
2) To clarify the left-handed issue: In addition to what it stated above, there are other opinions that say that If the person taking out the Torah is left-handed, he can hold the Torah in his left-hand. (as it is his stronger hand) But when the Torah is handed to the Chazan, all agree it should be placed in his right hand - even if the Chazan is left handed (Shaarei Efraim) And this might result in the Torah leaning against the Tefilin. However, if goes without saying that if the Torah is unable to be held properly in the Chazan's weaker hand, the left, stronger hand can be used! Reply

Anonymous October 11, 2007

the left side is where the heart is should the torah not be close to our heart?
I thought i heard this from someone.
Please comment. Reply

Anonymous ??? October 16, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

this is what I've also heard... Reply

dovid October 9, 2007

if wearing tefillin on right arm also then have the tora against the tefillin? Reply

shlomo dror October 5, 2007

and if someone doesn't know this? should one speak or gesture to indicate that it would be good to change arms? Reply

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