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Our shul has a small ark. There is room for 4 Sifrei Torah with 2 on each row.

As a Ba'al Kri'ah / Gabbai, I find it difficult, sometimes, to shuffle Sifrei Torah between the front and back row, esp. when there are different Torah readings in a short time span. Rosh Hashannah and the days following will prove to be a real challenge.

I need 2 for Rosh Hashannah up front. Shabbat afternoon, I need the regular parsha reading; Sunday - a fast day Torah and Monday the weekday parsha again. A lot of juggling around, and usually I am the only one doing it.

I was wondering if it is permissible to install a "lazy susan" to hold the Sifrei Torah, so that we can just revolve the platform until the Sefer Torah we need is accessible?

Each Torah has its own "cage" or backrest so that they can lean against something. The entire series of cages is nailed down to a large circular platform and the platform rotates. Note, that obviously, because the platform rotates, not all the Sifrei Torah will be facing the same way, and, actually, a few will be facing the back of the ark.

Is there any halachic problem with having Sifrei Torah in the ark facing different directions, or, in this case, since the platform rotates, some of them will be facing the back of the ark.

I know it sounds like a crazy idea, and I've never seen this done anywhere. But, is there any halacha forbidding doing this? It would make things much easier for so many people. I'm sure I'm not the only person with this challenge!

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Maybe I am not picturing it right, but wouldn't you need backrests rotating with the lazy susan to keep the Torahs from falling over? –  Mike Aug 26 '14 at 3:00
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I think that the backrests are implicit, due to the halachic issues with a torah falling over. –  Noach mi Frankfurt Aug 26 '14 at 3:26
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I seem to remember having seen this used somewhere, but I can't remember where. Why should there be a problem, assuming all precautions are taken to secure the Sifrei Torah and the Aron Hakodesh is deep enough. –  Epicentre Aug 26 '14 at 4:30
    
@Epicentre "I seem to remember having seen this used somewhere, but I can't remember where." Ditto. –  Fred Jan 15 at 1:39
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@IsaacMoses Thanks for the suggestion. See the 2nd to last paragraph. –  DanF Jun 30 at 14:53

2 Answers 2

In Yoreh De'ah Siman 282 there is nothing in the halachos of respecting a sefer Torah which dictates what direction the sefer Torah should face when it is in the Aron, as long as it isn't placed on its side or upside down.

Rabbeinu Tam (who holds that sifrei Torah should be placed laying down) brings one of his sources from the way in which the sefer Torah and the luchos were lying in the Aron, and perhaps he would similarly say that a sefer Torah should be facing the same direction, but this is pure speculation on my part.

However, one should be very careful whenever making changes to accepted norms, even when they are seemingly innocuous. In Igros Moshe O.C. 4:40:22, R' Moshe was asked about a possible problem of writing/erasing when closing/opening a two-piece paroches which opened by spreading the two halves to the sides. R' Moshe responded that the opening and closing was not a problem of writing or erasing, but that ideally such a paroches should not be made because it deviates from the accepted minhag of having a one-piece sheet paroches for the Aron Kodesh. Obviously, there are limitations to these kinds of concerns, but these things should be done with careful consideration.

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I would suggest that as long as when you open the ark you cannot see any facing the wrong way it is allowed. So you must put some divider on your 'revolving' platform so that one cannot see the 'back' ones. The front ones are always facing the front so they wont be any problem. I hope I have understood the 'system' properly.

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You did understand the 'system' properly, but, you need to source your claim that the divider idea is required or that the front row must all be facing forward. –  DanF Jun 30 at 15:13
    
I understood your question to be how to go about it. Not just plain are you allowed to have them facing 'backward'. I thought that was 'given' that they had to face 'forward'. It is not the 'front' row but all that you can 'see' even those at the back. –  guest Jun 30 at 15:16
    
Sorry for the confusion. No, you can assume that we know how to build it. The question is are you allowed to use this system, i.e., is there any rule stating that all the Sifrei Torah MUST face the front of the ark (or at least sideways), do they all have to specifically face forward, or does it not matter at all? Perhaps, there is a rule that you must use a Torah that it visible in front of you and that you cannot rotate them at all and place them "in the back"? –  DanF Jun 30 at 15:25
    
@DanF As an opinion with a proper divider it is like in another 'ark' even though it can be rotated and should cause no problem. If it can be done otherwise I dont know. –  guest Jun 30 at 15:33

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