(In case you didn't know,) I am Ashkenazic. Most Ashkenazic congregations perform Torah reading by laying the Torah flatly on a table and reading the Torah as it is on the table.

Many Sefardic communities have beautiful encased Torah scrolls and the Torah is read with the case standing vertically on the table.

What is the origin and reason for these differences?

  • 1
    judaism.stackexchange.com/q/56468/759 Just like a mezuza and the inside of your tefillin
    – Double AA
    May 29, 2015 at 20:34
  • @DoubleAA There was one shul I went to a while back that placed sifrei Torah in a drawer such that when they were stored, they were lying flat. Essentially, the Aron was like a file cabinet arrangement. Hmmm ... I'm making this a question.
    – DanF
    May 29, 2015 at 20:44
  • And then you have Temani shuls that have encased "Sefardi" Torah scrolls and they lay them down, at a slight angle. (As I saw in Kochav Yaakov over Shabbat) Jun 3, 2015 at 12:18
  • I have heard many times that the encasing for the sefardim started from the inquisition and many times they needed to hide the Sefer Torah. Being in a case makes it easier to store away. Versus a scroll cannot be just laid down on the floor out of respect. Jun 7, 2015 at 14:18
  • "Most Ashkenazic congregations perform Torah reading by laying the Torah flatly on a table and reading the Torah as it is on the table" Are there Ashkenazi kehilot which make a point of reading the torah while it's standing on the bimah?
    – Me.
    Jun 26, 2019 at 4:33

1 Answer 1


The Taz says that if he is ever zocheh to write a Sefer Torah and build an Aron Kodesh, he would build it wide enough to put the Sefer Torah lying down and that is also the seder kriyaso.

This means:

When we speak about the placement of kisvei hakodesh, not only does the halochah apply to mezuzah and tefillin, but the Taz extends this to Sifrei Torah as well. Therefore, in places of Edut HaMizrach, where the Mezuzos are standing according to Rashi and the Rambam, the Sefer Torah has to be standing. How do you make a Sefer Torah able to stand? You put it in a box. Therefore, their Sifrei Torah are placed in a box and they're standing on a bimah which is straight and horizontal. In this way they can read the Sefer Torah completely vertical, which is completely kisvei hakodesh.

Therefore, with Ashkenazim, who have their mezuzos slanted, their bimahs should be slanted, and really, this means that their Sifrei Torah are read slanted in accordance with the Rema.

Interestingly, the Morrocan minhag is to have the Sefer Torah on polls which are on a bimah which is slanted because they, like the Ashkenazim, have their mezuzos slanted. In this way their Sifrei Torah are read standing in accordance with kisvei hakodesh and slanted in accordance with the Rema.

  • Can you link a source for this? I don't understand the "kisei Hakodesh" concept as it is meant, here, and how this affects the placement of the Sefer Torah
    – DanF
    Jun 7, 2015 at 19:12
  • @DanF here is the link to the shiur that I heard this in. torahway.org.uk/archive/mp3/07-01-2014.mp3 Jun 7, 2015 at 20:26
  • KisVei Hakodesh - holy writing (as opposed to holy chair - Kisei Hakodesh) Jul 7, 2015 at 14:51
  • Where does the Taz say this?
    – Double AA
    May 4, 2017 at 13:50
  • If this would be the reason, I would expect a much earlier source than the Taz. Or at least a source in a Sephardic posek
    – user8726
    Feb 1, 2018 at 6:34

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