When the Torah comes around in shul, is it preferable for women to touch it with their hand (and then kiss their hand) or with their prayer book (and then kiss their prayer book)?

Presumably some women avoid using their hands because of the issue of niddah--but isn't everyone always "ritually impure" these days anyway? (After all, that's one reason we don't touch the actual Torah, but only the cover.)

I know there are minhags to do it both ways, so please bring authoritative sources for your position.

  • 1
    Where is the halocho brought down to kiss a torah? No where Aug 24 '14 at 19:46
  • 2
    @SAH Regarding "I've never seen anyone actually kiss the Torah cover ....." -- I have. It happens all the time in most places I daven.
    – MTL
    Aug 25 '14 at 4:22
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    If I recall correctly, one of the poskim in Yeshiva University suggested that no one should kiss or touch the Torah, or kiss Chumashim or Sidurim because of the danger of bacteria and viri / infection. I think he may have included not shaking hands, as well. I don't recall the Rav's name, though.
    – DanF
    Aug 25 '14 at 14:51
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    @Scimonster - You don't need a Rav for that. As the average TV med. pill ad would say ... "Ask your doctor if shaking hands is right for you..."
    – DanF
    Aug 25 '14 at 15:12
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    @Scimonster - I recommend that Rav Kanievski obtain a 2nd opinion.
    – DanF
    Aug 25 '14 at 16:48

Ha Rav Riskin mentioned the following, in regard to a somewhat different question on women's minyanim.

There are some authorities - including my teacher and mentor, Rav Soloveitchik ztz"l - who maintain that since a Sefer Torah cannot become "tamei" (ritually impure), a woman may also read from a Sefer Torah, but without the order of aliyot and berakhot since these were instituted for men only.

(bold emphasis added)

Therefore, any tamei person, male or female, may kiss / touch a Torah scroll's cover, and there is no halachically preferred way to do so (directly, or with a book or other object).

  • Can the scroll's cover become impure?
    – Double AA
    Aug 25 '14 at 12:31
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    @DoubleAA I don't know, but why would it matter? The scroll can't become tamei, so it can have a tamei cover on it. In any case, we see that men aren't required to immerse in a mikvah before holding or touching a Torah, covered or not.
    – Jake
    Aug 25 '14 at 12:35
  • Maybe it's degrading to the Torah? (Im not saying it is or isnt, just that would seem to be the primary concern and this answer hasnt addressed it at all)
    – Double AA
    Aug 25 '14 at 12:37
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    How do you know neither is preferred just because both are permitted?
    – Double AA
    Aug 25 '14 at 18:55
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    $DoubleAA if you are saying that a niddah's touching the Torah [cover] would be degrading to the Torah, this to me sounds like a degradation of women. Even married women are niddah approximately 40% of the time (and nearly 100% of unmarried women are niddah 100% of the time). It is a very normal state of womanhood. The idea that a Torah scroll is "higher" than a human being and needs protection from them just seems wrong to me.
    – SAH
    Sep 4 '14 at 0:05

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