Kiss of Honor
What is the best way to honor the Torah as it is carried in the synagogue? This question applies to both when we are "touching-distance" from the Torah as well as when we are too far away.
Dear Louis Orzech,
One should stand. If the Torah is carried past you, it is a mitzvah to follow behind it until it is brought to rest. It is also customary to kiss the Torah, or to touch the Torah and kiss your hand. If you are too far away, you should stand and face the Torah as it is taken to and placed on the bima (table upon which the Torah is placed and read). Likewise, when the Torah is being carried back to the holy ark.
Rabbi Yehuda Segal, zatzal, the late Rosh Yeshiva in Manchester, used to point out that although it is a beautiful custom to kiss the Torah, very often people surge forward and push or elbow others out of the way! Rabbi Segal cautioned his students that it's better not to kiss the Torah than to push others in order to kiss the Torah.
- Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 149
- Mishna Berurah ibid. 7