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When people read or roll a Torah, I have always seen the table covered either with a cloth or a tallit. Is it necessary to cover the table? Why? If not, and this is a minhag, what is its source?

Could the reason be because of what is said in Talmud Bavli Megillah 32. ? -

"Rabbi Parnach Rabbi Yohanan said that one who handles a Torah bare (without a cloth) is buried bare ... Abaye explains this as meaning "bare" without this mitzvah."

This is referring to handling a bare Torah. Would that include laying it on a bare table?

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    Just a guess, but maybe it's just a sign of respect? After all, the Torah itself is treated as an object/representation of royalty, being decorated and the parchment itself being untouched by human hands, the Congregation standing when the Ark is opened/closed and it's being handled, etc. You wouldn't have a Royal Decree from the King placed onto and read from a normal piece of undecorated furniture that was otherwise used for changing the baby's diapers or stacking tools or ...well, anything else on, would you? Once again, I'm sure other folks here know the appropriate references for this.. – Gary Jun 26 '18 at 15:16
  • @DanF A siddur doesn't have the same level of Kedusha that a Sefer Torah has. – Salmononius2 Jun 26 '18 at 15:18
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    Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/19128/170 – msh210 Jun 26 '18 at 16:02
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While not strictly necessary, it is done in order to avoid making the table a tashmish kedusha. A tashmish kedusha may not be discarded and must be buried (genizah) (OC 154:3, YD 282:12). Placing a cloth over the table ensures that the table (even if the table was designated for this use, such as the bimah in shul), will only be a tashmish d'tashmish, and permitted to be discarded (Megillah 26b), while the cloth (if designated for this use) will become a tashmish kedusha (see Rashi Megillah 26b, Taz YD 282:9). However, if the cloth (or tallis) is only used temporarily, then the cloth was never designated to be a tashmish kedusha, and is therefore permitted to be discarded (See Beis Yosef YD 282).

  • Is just using something temporarily really enough to make it a tashmish Kedusha? You have plenty of sources for what to do with tashmishei Kedusha but no source for your actual answer – Double AA Jun 26 '18 at 16:34
  • @DoubleAA The Taz says so – Ploni Jun 26 '18 at 16:36
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    So if you ever put your Megillat Esther down on a chair for a second before wrapping it back up you have to bury the chair?? – Double AA Jun 26 '18 at 16:38
  • @DoubleAA Does a Megillat Esther have the same holiness as a Sefer Torah? – Ploni Jun 26 '18 at 16:45
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    @DanF As far as "what is considered tashmish kedusha", I think that should be a separate question. – Ploni Jun 27 '18 at 16:18

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