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I have seen several methods of how to show the open Torah to the congregation when doing (Ashkenazi) hagbah. The simplest is to lift the Torah, turn in a full 360 degree circle, and then sit down. I have seen others do a half turn to the right, turn back to face the front, then do a half turn to the left, and turn back to face the front. I'm sure I've seen other methods as well, but those are the two I've seen most often.

Is there any source for either of the two mentioned methods? Does Halacha have an opinion about how this should be done? Are there reasons to specifically do it one way and not the other?

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    Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/3/5323 – Shokhet Sep 21 '14 at 3:07
  • It seems from the what is brought brought down in Seforim, that Hagba'ah is a very serious Mitzvah. It is considered to be a Bezayon if people do not see the Kisvei Sefer Torah during Hagba'ah and say V'zos Hatorah etc. Not only this, but if Hagba'ah is done incorrectly(not all people are shown the Kisvei Sefer Torah), then it has to be repeated. – user9411 May 7 '15 at 15:54
  • see also How Much to Open the Torah for Hagbah? in the OU's Jewish Action magazine – mbloch Jan 4 '18 at 4:41
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Short answer: like any good subject in Judaism; there isn't only one answer. the 360° turn seems to be unanimous but the right-left is sometimes perceived as a custom and sometimes as a mistake.

  • The main sources that I found are Masehet Sofrim, Mishna Brura "B, 30" & Hazon Ish's custom. [מסכת סופרים, משנה ברורה ב', סימן קל"ד ס"ק ב' ומנהג של החזון איש]

  • The "Halacha's opinion" and also the reasoning is that everyone in the synagogue needs to see the writing, which reinforces the 360° turn.

Something Extra:

"יהיו כל פניותיך לימין"/"כל פניותיך יהיו לימין"

"All your turns shall be to the right"

It doesn't matter which custom you go by, you will be turning right. This applies to many points in Judaism. to name a few from the prayer: Getting up in Leha Dodi, turning to say "And this is the Torah..." from between the stage and Aron Hakodesh should all be 360° turns to the right.

Long Answer:

(The translations are mine and not anything official from the sources mentioned at the end) [Square brackets are my notes and not part of the translation]

מסכת סופרים: "ואחר כך מגביה את התורה למעלה...מיד גולל ספר תורה עד שלשה דפין, ומגביהו ומראה פני כתיבתו לעם העומדים לימינו ולשמאלו, ומחזירו לפניו ולאחריו, שמצוה לכל אנשים ונשים לראות הכתוב ולכרוע ולומר, וזאת התורה אשר שם משה לפני בני ישראל."

Masehet Sofrim: "And after that (he) lifts the Torah upwards... immediately Golel the Torah up to three pages [when you lift the Torah you need to show three pages], and lifts it and shows its written face to the people to his right and left and brings it back [literal translation, actually means turning] to his front and back as it is a Mitzvah to all men and women to see the writing and kneel and say, "And this is the Torah that Moshe put before Bnei Israel".

"וזאת התורה"

"And this is the Torah..."

When lifting the Torah everyone needs to see the letters.

"ומי שמסתכל היטב בהאותיות כראוי – יגיע לו אור גדול אם ראוי לכך"

ערוך השולחן אורח חיים קלד ג

"And he who looks at the letters well - great light will come to him if (he) so deserves"

Preferably, everyone would need to look close-up in order to see the actual words but that's not practical in a synagogue with dozens of people so the compromise is to let everyone at least see the side on which the words are written.

ישנם מגביהים שטועים ומסתובבים מעט לימין ומעט לשמאל, ורבים מהקהל העומדים לצד ארון הקודש אינם יכולים לראות את הכתב. וצריך המגביה להקפיד שכל המתפללים יוכלו לראות את אותיות התורה, והטוב הוא שהמגביה יסתובב סיבוב שלם במתינות, וכך הכל יוכלו לראות את אותיות התורה

(ע' פס"ת קלד,ה).

There are Magbihim [lifters] who do wrong and turn a little to the right and a little to the left, and many of the congregation who stand to the side of Aron Hakodesh can not see the writing. And needs the Magbiha to be strict so that all the prayers will be able to see the letters of the Torah, and the good is that the Magbiha will turn a full revolution slowly, and so everyone may see the letters of the Torah.

However,

סדר הגבהת ספר תורה: כתוב במשנה ברורה סימן קל"ד סק"ט שעומד "במזרח התיבה" כלומר שכשבא להגביה את הספר תורה עומד כשפניו כלפי מזרח (הארון קודש) ומקיף "ממזרח לדרום" כלומר שמסתובב לצד ימין ואז הפנים שלו הם כלפי צד דרום (ובאופן זה קודם האנשים שעומדים מהצד השמאלי שלו יראו את הכתב. ובהמשך הסיבוב יש שני מנהגים יש נוהגים שהוא ממשיך להסתובב עד שהוא גומר סיבוב שלם, ואז מתחיל עוד פעם להסתובב מעט לצד דרום וחוזר לשבת [כך מובא שנהג החזו"א],

אמנם יש נוהגים שאחרי שמסתובב לצד דרום עד קרוב למערב, (והעם העומד לשמאלו כבר ראו את הכתב) חוזר בחזרה ומסתובב לצד שמאל (באופן שהאנשים שעומדים בצד הימני שלו יראו את הכתב) ומסתובב עד שמגיע קרוב למערב וחוזר בחזרה ומתיישב.

[משנה הלכות חי"א סימן ק"נ].

Order of lifting a Sefer Torah: it is said in Mishna Brura that (he) stands "at the east of the stage" meaning that when (he) comes to lift the Torah (he) stands with his face to the east (Aron Hakodesh) and turns "from east to south" meaning that (he) turns to the right and that his face is towards south (and in this manner the people to his left side will see the writing). And at the continuation there are two customs; there are those who custom that he keeps turning until he finishes a whole revolution, and starts turning again to south a little and goes back to sit. (It is told that this is how the Hazon Ish customed)

Verily there are those who custom that after (he) turns to south until close to west [right] (and the people to his left already saw the writing) (he) goes back and turns to left (in a manner that the people who stand on his right side will see the writing) and turns until (he) comes close to west and goes back and sits.

So in summary, as almost always happens, Mahloket.

Sources:

http://he.wikipedia.org/wiki/%D7%94%D7%92%D7%91%D7%94%D7%94

http://ph.yhb.org.il/02-22-04/

http://www.din.org.il/2011/11/08/%D7%A1%D7%93%D7%A8-%D7%94%D7%92%D7%91%D7%94%D7%AA-%D7%A1%D7%A4%D7%A8-%D7%AA%D7%95%D7%A8%D7%94-%D7%9C%D7%9E%D7%A0%D7%94%D7%92-%D7%94%D7%90%D7%A9%D7%9B%D7%A0%D7%96%D7%99%D7%9D/

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    +1 for "like any good subject in Judaism; there isn't only one answer." (And of course, that it's a good answer. :)) – Scimonster Sep 21 '14 at 9:43
  • +1 and welcome to Mi Yodeya! You did some pretty heavy Google Translate-ing, didn't you? – Y     e     z Sep 21 '14 at 18:48
  • Thank you! Actually, as I wrote, this is all my translation... I hope it's good enough :) – user2962533 Sep 23 '14 at 9:31
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The Ramban in parshas Ki Tavo on passuk 27:26 brings the idea of hagbah:

אמרו על דרך אגדה, זה החזן, שאינו מקים ספרי התורה להעמידן כתקנן שלא יפלו. ולי נראה, על החזן שאינו מקים ספר תורה על הצבור להראות פני כתיבתו לכל, כמו שמפורש במסכת סופרים (יד יד) שמגביהין אותו ומראה פני כתיבתו לעם העומדים לימינו ולשמאלו ומחזירו לפניו ולאחריו, שמצוה לכל אנשים והנשים לראות הכתוב ולכרוע ולומר וזאת התורה אשר שם משה וגו' (לעיל ד מד), וכן נוהגין.‏

The Ramban seems to hold that one must show the Torah to everyone in the congregation by showing everyone from right to left from front to back(or 360 see Avnei Yashfei 6:23:5) with the Sefer Torah,and he says this is how we are noheg. It seems that according to the Ramban it is close to a d'Oraaisa to show the Torah to everyone. It is interesting to note that he says the chazan is the one who does hagabah,and another point of interest is that he holds women also must see the Torah as well( which can be hard for them due to the mechetzia).

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The sefer Piskei Teshuvos Siman 134 #5 Says the following (I'm paraphrasing):

The language of the Shulchan Aruch is "Show the writing of the sefer torah to the people that are standing to his right and to his left and turn it to the front of him and to the back of him etc"

This is the language of Meseches Sofrim and is giving the halacha for their times when there minhag was to do hagbah with the writing facing outward toward the people and away from the one holding the sefer torah (like the Sefardim do nowadays). Therefore when the magbiah turns to the people standing to his right he is turning the sefer torah to his right as well and is fulfilling (very well) "all turnings that you turn, turn to your right".

However, according to the minhag of the Ashkenazim, there are a few ways that hagbah can be done 1) first turn to your right and show the writing to the people standing on the left (because you must turn right first) and then reverse (turn left) and show the writing to the people standing on the right (and you have to make sure that people standing on the Eastern side of the shul see the writing too). 2) Do a complete turn by turning right until you're back in your original position.

I don't remember where I saw it but I read somewhere that you can fulfill what it says in Meseches Sofrim and "All turnings..." according to minhag Ashkenaz. This is how- after you pick up the sefer torah, don't move your feet but turn your hands/arms in a way that the writing is shown to the people on the right side then turn your whole body to the right doing an entire circle. (This is what I do).

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