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Megillah 32a:

Megillah 32a:38-44:

כל האוחז ספר תורה ערום נקבר ערום ערום סלקא דעתך אלא אימא נקבר ערום בלא מצות בלא מצות סלקא דעתך אלא אמר אביי נקבר ערום בלא אותה מצוה

Whoever takes hold of a scroll of the Torah without a covering (naked) is buried naked. Naked! Do you really think? Rather say: naked without mitzvoth. Without mitzvot! Do you really think? Rather Abaye said: He is buried naked without that mitzvah.

This seems to be the source for prohibiting touching the bare Torah parchment with one's hands, and why many Torah readers use a yad (pointer).

I have seen many people, myself included, during many years, touching (and reading from) a bare Megillah. Are we mistaken? If not, I am curious why the prohibition is only for the Torah and not for touching a bare Megillah?

  • 3
    Why would you think a Megillah should have the same rule as a Torah Scroll? Clearly a Torah Scroll is holier than a Megillah, no? – Double AA Apr 1 '16 at 18:01
  • Rav Herschel Shechter has a shiur on this on YUTORAH. He says that it is a matchlock Rishonim whether this applies to Megillah (citing Tur IIRC). There is also a dispute whether washing one's hands in advance renders contact with a Torah scroll permissible. Accordingly, touching a Megillah after washing one's hands is a sfek sfeka, and is permissible. – mevaqesh Apr 1 '16 at 18:08
  • @mevaqesh See OC 147:1. Arukh haShulchan there has a nice breakdown. – Double AA Apr 1 '16 at 19:59
  • Why limit it to a Megillah? It's true of any of the Sifrei Nach. (No source, but I've seen in all shuls that read the Haftarah out of a scroll that they touch it with their hands, and that was the explanation my Rav gave, as that is my Yeshiva's minhag as well.) – DonielF Feb 19 '17 at 16:42
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See Mishna in Yadaym 3, 5.

The Gemara in Massechet Megila 7A exposed a Machloket:

Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel; [The scroll] of Esther does not make the hands unclean...
{This is a Machloket tanaym see here Rabbi Shim'on's opinion R`Simeon vs. Rq Josuah} R`Simeon says that Koheleth is one of those matters in regard to which Beth Shammai were more lenient and Beth Hillel more stringent, but Ruth and the Song of Songs and Esther [certainly] make the hands unclean'! - Samuel concurred with R`Joshua.
If the Gemara says that he concurred with R"J, it is a sign that the Halacha is not as he says, but as R Shimon says. See Tshuvat Rav Hay Gaon here (in the left column of the page) and see here in the right top concerning touching naked Megilat Ester.

See Rambam Sefer Taharot, hilchot Avot haTum'a 9, 6 and see Magen Avraham (S.A. O.C. 147 S.K. 1) says that Megilot are as Sefer Tora, and that Rambam do not follow the opinion of Shmuel in Gemara cited above.

The Rama, says "ולא נהגו כן" and the Mishna Brura, and Beur Halacha, explains that some Poskim allowed to touching Sefer tora) when the person washed ons'e hands (Mordechay in name of Raavia, Rashba, Tosfot[1]). But there is no hilightment of a difference between S.T. and Megilah

Conclusion

  1. We found no differences in Rishonim between Megila and S.T,
  2. But we found a Machloket in both, some rishonim allow to touching S.T and Megila with cleaned hands, and some others prohibited.
  3. It seems that the Rema recommends a compromise between the 2 opinions, relying on the leniency of allowing touching after washing for Megila (and other books of Nakh), but being stringent for a Sefer Torah.


[1] Tosfot says in conclusion that after netilat yadaym, it is prohibited to touch sefer Tora as Megila

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