How do you lift a Torah?A Guide to the Sacred Practice

Lifting a Torah scroll, also known as a Sefer Torah, is a profound and sacred act in Judaism. The Torah, containing the Five Books of Moses, serves as the foundation of Jewish faith and tradition. As a cherished religious artifact, handling a Torah requires utmost care and respect. In this article, we will explore the significance of lifting a Torah, the proper techniques involved, and the reverence with which it is approached in Jewish communities.

How do you lift a Torah?

The Significance of Lifting a Torah:

In Jewish tradition, lifting a Torah scroll holds immense spiritual and symbolic significance. When a Torah is raised, it symbolizes the elevation of the Divine Word and serves as a moment of connection between the Jewish people and their heritage. It is a reminder of the eternal covenant between God and the Jewish nation, emphasizing the responsibility to study, preserve, and uphold the teachings contained within the sacred text.

The Torah itself is the central and most important religious document in Judaism, consisting of the first five books of the Hebrew Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The meticulous process of writing a Torah scroll involves skilled scribes who use special tools and materials, adhering to strict rules and traditions to ensure accuracy and sanctity.

During Jewish religious services, such as Shabbat and festivals, the Torah is read publicly in synagogues. When it is time to read the Torah, it is carefully taken out of the Ark, a special cabinet where the Torah scrolls are stored, and then raised for all to see. This moment of lifting the Torah is a solemn and sacred occasion.

The act of lifting the Torah is accompanied by blessings and prayers, expressing gratitude for the gift of the Divine Word and the privilege of studying it. The congregation stands as a sign of respect for the Torah and to participate in this spiritual connection.

Furthermore, when the Torah is lifted, it is often wrapped in a decorative and ornate cloth called a “mantle” or “tik” adorned with symbols and designs that represent various aspects of Jewish heritage and values. These mantles are often donated by members of the community in honor of special occasions or in memory of loved ones.

The Ritual of Lifting a Torah:

Lifting a Torah is typically performed during religious ceremonies and special occasions within a synagogue. The process involves several key steps to ensure proper respect and adherence to tradition.

First, the Torah scroll is taken out of the Ark, a special cabinet considered the holiest part of the synagogue. Once removed, the scroll is unrolled to the section that will be read or to a designated portion of the text for the specific occasion. Before lifting the Torah, it is covered with an ornate cloth, often made of velvet or silk, known as a Mantel or Parochet, which reflects the reverence for the sacred text.

The actual lifting of the Torah is often performed by community members who have been trained in the proper techniques. The person lifting the Torah, known as the “Gabbai,” ensures that they maintain a respectful posture throughout the process. The Torah is then carried in a procession around the synagogue or in front of the congregation, and special blessings may be recited during this time to invoke divine protection and guidance.

The Handling of a Torah Scroll:

Handling a Torah requires specific guidelines to prevent damage and ensure its preservation for future generations. Some essential considerations include:

  • Before touching the Torah, it is customary to wash one’s hands to maintain cleanliness and purity during the sacred act.
  • It is essential not to touch the letters or text with bare hands, as these letters are considered holy and require utmost reverence.
  • When not in use, the Torah scroll is stored in the Ark, in a cool and dry place, to protect it from environmental factors that could cause deterioration.
  • Torah scrolls are subject to regular maintenance by skilled scribes (Soferim) who inspect and repair any damage to ensure the text remains intact and legible.

The Joyous Community Event:

Lifting a Torah is often a joyous community event, bringing together individuals from different generations to celebrate their shared heritage. It is a time of unity and reflection, allowing the congregation to connect with their faith, history, and tradition. The act of lifting the Torah serves as a symbol of the everlasting covenant between the Jewish people and their Creator, reinforcing the deep spiritual connection and responsibility to carry forward the teachings of the Torah for generations to come.


Lifting a Torah is an act of profound spirituality and reverence in Judaism. The careful handling, the blessings, and the procession around the synagogue all contribute to the sanctity of the moment. By following the proper techniques and guidelines, Jewish communities ensure that the Torah remains a cherished and preserved treasure, fostering a deep connection with their faith and heritage throughout time. The act of lifting the Torah serves as a powerful reminder of the enduring covenant and the shared responsibility to honor and uphold the teachings of the sacred text.

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