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When the Bais Hamikdash stood, on Yom Kipper the kohen gadol read from the torah facing the people and on Sukos the king read from the torah facing the people, why does our Bima face the Aron? If krias hatorah mimics matan torah (Shaarei Eefraim 376,10) shouldn't we face the people not the aron? What does the Bima represent that it faces the aron and not the people? Don't say the mizba'ach then it would need to face North (right of the aron).

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Was Mattan Torah done facing the people? Who said the Mizbeach faced north? It was a square. –  Double AA Jan 16 at 18:47
    
The Kohain Gadol also read the Torah in the Ezras Nashim. Perhaps we should do the same? –  Gershon Gold Jan 16 at 19:48
    
@GershonGold Indeed, perhaps a Mechitza is only needed during Tefilla and not Keriat haTorah. –  Double AA Jan 19 at 9:27
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2 Answers 2

Many Achronim including the Ma'adanei Yom Tov, Peri Megadim, Arukh Ha-shulchan, and Mishna Berura) write that one should not pray with one's back towards the Aron. Praying with your back towards the Aron is considered disrespectful as seen in the psukim : "their backs were to the House of God" (Yechezkel 8:16) and "they turned their backs towards Me" (Yirmiyahu 32:33). This prohibition takes precedence over the obligation to pray towards Jerusalem. So although i could not find any source that applies this rule to the reading of the torah, perhaps we don't read from the Torah with our backs to the Aron for the same reason.

Please review the following sources:

Can you turn your back to the Aron HaKodesh?

http://www.vbm-torah.org/archive/halak57/11east.doc

http://www.ou.org/torah/article/should_one_pray_from_the_bima_or_the_amud#.UtvEU4f8LWQ

Now that you read the sources we still need to answer the following questions.

1) Why can you turn your back to the Aron during Lecha Dodi ?

2) It's common for Rabbis to say a drasha with their backs to the Aron. How ?

  • There are opinions that hold that to turn your back to the Aron is not prohibited (The Peri Megadim and Divrei Chamudot) So in circumstances where there is no alternative, perhaps we rely on those opinions that permit it.

Lecha Dodi - user Chanoch (in the MY question linked above) notes that Rav Ovadiah OB"M says in Yalkut Yosef that it is permitted.

Drashot - A) Many Rabbis do indeed say their Drashot off to the side of the Aron Kodesh B) I have seen many Rabbis who when they have to say a Drasha with their backs turned to the Aron first kiss the Parochet. This may be to show the tzibor of listeners that no disrespect is meant to the Aron. C) Perhaps they are relying on the lenient position mentioned above.

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It is obvious that these are exceptions to the rule, otherwise why would it mention by a the Kohain Gadol and King that they face the crowd.

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Maybe it was trying to teach us the rule? I don't know. –  Double AA Jan 16 at 18:44
    
@DoubleAA: When something is mentioned twice we do not learn a rule from it. –  Gershon Gold Jan 16 at 18:45
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That's actually a machloket tannaim. Moreover, I don't know that it's a rule we might apply to anything but pesukim. –  Double AA Jan 16 at 18:46
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