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I'm occasionally asked in shul to take out the second Sefer Torah, which also involves holding it until it's needed. I usually sit holding it with one eitz chayim resting on the chair between my legs, the other eitz chayim on the other side of my left leg, the top resting on my right shoulder, and my right arm around it. By the end of the second aliyah, my right shoulder is always sore.

I generally won't accept this kavod anymore, except on Chol Hamoed Pesach or Rosh Chodesh Chanuka, because it's too painful.

Is there a way of holding it that works better? (I'm right handed, if it matters.)

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is a health question, not a Judaism question. – sabbahillel Jun 26 '17 at 14:26
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    @sabbahillel It's definitely about Jewish Life. Judaism is more than halacha and parshanut. See the entire how-to tag. – Scimonster Jun 26 '17 at 14:59
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    @sabbahillel At the same time, just being on-topic on Medical Sciences doesn't make it off-topic here. – Scimonster Jun 26 '17 at 15:23
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    @sabbahillel A generic health community would be nearly useless for answering this question, which requires understanding of the shape and size of a sefer Torah as well as the circumstances in which one is required to hold one, and the constraints that apply. Yes, you could write that all up in sufficient detail to make for an answerable question by generic ergonomics experts, but it makes a great deal more sense to ask somewhere where there are likely to be people with a great deal of practical experience with this particular task - here. – Isaac Moses Jun 26 '17 at 15:37
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    I think it's common practice, out of respect, not to sit on a seat when holy books are on the same seat. Not sure whether that's required, nor whether it applies to atze chayim also. CYLOR. – msh210 Jun 26 '17 at 19:33
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This probably depends in part on the size (eitz to eitz length, I mean) and weight of the sefer torah, but here's what people in my minyan do (and what I do personally) with a medium-sized scroll. My description is for a left-handed person, but you can reverse it.

Sit with your back against the back of the chair. Place your left hand in front of you and under the "disks" at the bottom end of the eitz, so you're supporting weight without being poked. Let the weight of the sefer lean against your left shoulder. The sefer is not vertical; it's leaning against your shoulder, bottom out a bit. (It's also slightly slanted across your body.) For our scroll this does not result in an eitz poking you in the thigh; the distance between you hand under the disk and the end of the eitz is short enough that the eitzim themselves don't rest on anything. If you need more stability, place your right hand on the front near the center.

Sitting like this, it's easy to shift from left to right -- start by replacing the bottom hand, then slide your now-free left hand up to the middle of the scroll and shift the scroll from your left shoulder to your right. (This does assume that you don't have a book in your free hand at the time.)

If you have any special medical conditions that affect your ability to bear weight in certain places, you should of course consult your local physician.

  • Thanks for the suggestion! I'll hold off on accepting until I get a chance to try it out (which I don't think can happen any sooner than Rosh Hashana). – Heshy Jun 27 '17 at 13:50

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