Siddur Ba-eir Hei-teiv --- The Transliterated Siddur

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Learn to sing text and tunes for the Torah Lifting Print E-mail
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All transliterations, commentary, and audio recordings are copyright © 1997, 1998, 2002, 2009, or 2016 by Jordan Lee Wagner. All rights reserved.

Here are some melodies for lifting and dressing the Torah:

  • Here is a currently popular chant for lifting the Torah, written by Abraham Z. Idelson.

How to Lift a Torah

The honor of lifting the Torah is called hag'bah. If you are invited to lift the Torah, there are two tricks that make it easier. First, keep it taut. Second, slide it off the desk. Here are details:

First, look around and make sure you know in advance where you are going to sit down with the Torah after you have lifted it. Second, look up to see if there is anything above you, like a low chandelier above the reader's desk, that might obstruct you. Plan ahead.

Open the scroll so that three columns are visible. (It is healthier for the scroll if a seam is also visible.) Spread the handles apart on the desk so that the scroll is taut, not slack. Don't try to lift the scroll off the desk with your arms. Instead, simply slide the scroll toward you un­til it is half on and half off the desk. Then bend your knees slightly and pivot the scroll about the edge of the desk into vertical po­sition. This way, all the weight will be over your hands before you actually bear the weight.

Raise the Torah so that the Congregation can see it. As you carry it, carefully balanced, keep the scroll taut, not slack. That way you are balancing one solid object with two hands, not two separate objects with one hand each. Keeping it taut may feel wrong -- you may fear ripping it. But remember that a Torah is written on segments of cowhide that are sewn to­gether -- not paper.

Turn a bit to each side, so the text is diplayed to all present. After the congregation sings the response to your lifting, you can move to the seat and let the bottoms of the rollers come to rest on your thighs as you sit. Keep your hands on the bottom handles of the rollers, as someone rolls the scroll closed using the tops. (When the rollers come together, the roller on your right rests above the roller on your left.) Continue holding the Torah upright in as it is being dressed. Once it is dressed, you can let it rest on your right shoulder, with your right arm wrapped around it and holding the bottom. The dressed Torah might be taken from you and set into a holder, or placed on a seat. But usually, it is held by you until it is time to return it to the Ark. Follow local custom.

(Everyone who sees a Torah fall to the ground fasts for forty days. It's only a big risk on Simchas Torah, when ev­eryone is ecstatic and dancing wildly on chairs and tables, holding open Torahs high above their heads. I've never known anyone who's seen a Torah fall, although there have been close calls when those nearest have saved the day. But in case you do, the trick is to eat at night).

--- adapted from "The Synagogue Survival Kit" by Jordan Lee Wagner, publ. by Rowman & Littlefield. 1997.

Last Updated on Sunday, 27 December 2009 16:00

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