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I recently came across an advertorial on thelakewoodscoop.com regarding a Shul that is having a raffle where one can win a Sefer Torah. The first comment was:

"Is it just me or is using a Sefer Torah as a fundraiser a little disrespectful?"

Is a raffle disrespectful? Is doing a fundraiser, where funds are raised by selling lines, columns, Parshiyos appropriate? Basically, what may be done with the help of a Sefer Torah?

  • 2
    I wonder if your query is too specific. The sort of general prosperity that could lead to this sort of raffle being possible is a relatively recent phenomenon. You may be more likely to find pertinent sources by asking something more general, like if there are sources about what kinds of exchanges for a S"T are considered disrespectful. – Isaac Moses Feb 18 '14 at 21:26
  • הלוקח ספר תורה מן השוק כחוטף מצוה מן השוק – Double AA Feb 18 '14 at 21:28
  • I wonder if this is any different from using the mitzvah of writing a sefer torah as a fundraiser, like when a community "sells" verses, columns, or parshiyot in a sefer torah that's being written for an amount in excess of the cost of producing that scroll. – Monica Cellio Feb 18 '14 at 23:16
  • I second Monica. This reminds me of the practice of a shul auctioning "ownership" of the sifrei torah to the highest bidder. In fact this is probably less problematic because those auctions a-take place on yom tov and b-don't transfer any rights of any sort to the purchaser – Yitzchak Feb 19 '14 at 3:13
  • Wouldn't this show respect for the Torah? Showing how much people want the Torah and what-not. – Y     e     z Feb 19 '14 at 18:51
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+100

I got interested in the question because we did once win a sefer Torah at such a raffle during a tsedaka dinner for a school. It was organized by an organization run by a well-respected and very knowledgeable rav and no one raised halachik issues.

Your question got me thinking. I found an interesting source on the topic. dinonline writes

Panim Me’iros (3:43) writes relates to a case in which a person went broke and lost all his possessions save a sefer Torah, which he needed to sell in order to marry off a daughter. After unsuccessfully trying to find buyers, he decided to try a lottery. Panim Me’iros writes that this is permitted, because it is for the benefit of the Torah, which currently has no buyers. This answer is quoted by Atzei Chaim (YD 30).

However, Zera Avraham (YD 7) writes that the practice is prohibited, comparing the sale by means of a lotterty to the disrespectful sale of the meat of a firstborn animal (which is prohibited). Tzitz Eliezer (vol. 22, no. 50) adds that Chacham Tzvi (123) prohibits the sale of a sefer Torah by means of an auction, and compares an auction to a lottery (though there is room to debate the comparison).

He concludes that the the lottery is not respectful. However, for the purpose of a mitzvah (which includes raising necessary funds for a shul), one can rely on the opinions above that permit the practice.

Since I don't like the idea of storing the sefer Torah in a shul that already has many, I lent it to a wonderful organization that builds synagogues in previously secular kibbutzim where there is new interest in yiddishkeit. The sefer Torah allows them full shabbat and yom tov services and it is used all the time

  • It's worth noting that even if it's prohibited to sell a Torah that way, it may not be prohibited to buy it that way. – Double AA Nov 12 '17 at 0:46
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Harav Ratzon Arusi,

Wrote as an answer to such question:

"If this lottery is intended to finance things that are sacred, Torah, or Gemach, it is permissible to participate in it, because the participant's opinion is to help the Holy One with his money, even if he does not merit it.

If he is indeed kosher, he fulfills a mitzva that the mitzva of writing a Torah scroll is also by writing a book, by purchasing a prepared Torah scroll, and by receiving a Torah scroll as a gift, or by inheriting a Torah scroll The same is true by winning the lottery."

  • Welcome to Mi Yodeya Termin! Thanks for the answer! Hopefully we'll see you around the site. Mori Arussi isn't quoted to often here, so this post is a pleasant surprise. – mevaqesh Nov 29 '17 at 20:01

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