Holding onto the handles of the Sefer Torah during the Aliyah-Why and how:
One holds on to the [handles, known as the Eitz Chaim, of the] Sefer Torah while saying the blessing [and during the reading]. While saying the blessing he is to hold onto both handles, holding onto the right handle with his right hand, and the left handle with his left hand. After the blessing, one lets go of the left handle, and remains holding onto the right handle.
How to hold onto the Eitz Chaim, with a Tallis or with one’s bare hands? Some Poskim rule that it is forbidden to hold onto the handles of the Sefer Torah directly, due to the prohibition against touching the Sefer Torah [brought next]. Rather one is to hold onto the handles using a Tallis. Other Poskim, however, rule that there is no need to hold onto the Eitz Chaim with a Tallis or other intervening substance, and it is permitted to hold onto it with one’s bare hands, and so is the widespread custom. [Nonetheless, some are stringent like the first opinion to hold onto it with a Tallis, and so was the custom of the Rebbe Rayatz, and so is the printed custom in Sefer Haminhagim. Practically, however, this is not the Chabad custom, and was not seen to be done by the Rebbe when he received an Aliyah, and thus we are accustomed to hold onto the handles with our bare hands.]
Not to touch the parchment of the Sefer Torah: It is forbidden to touch the parchment of the Sefer Torah without a cloth. This applies even if one washed his hands.
 See Michaber 139:11; Ketzos Hashulchan 25:6; Piskeiy Teshuvos 139:16; Chikrei Haminhagim 2:180-186
 1st custom in M”A 139:13 in name of Kesavim in Sefer Hakavanos 47b; M”B 139:35; Beis Yosef 139 in name of Yerushalmi
Other customs: Some Poskim write that one is to hold onto the parchment of the Sefer Torah using a cloth, and one is not to hold onto the handles. [2nd custom in M”A 139:13 in name of Arizal in Shaar Hakavanos Inyan Kerias Hatorah Derush 3; Peri Eitz Chaim Kerias Hatorah 2; Kaf Hachaim 139:24] See Shaareiy Efraim 4:4; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid
 Taz 147:1; Bach 147; M”B ibid
 Michaber 139:11; Beis Yosef 139 in name of Yerushalmi; Taz 139:9; M”A 139:13; Abudarham 1 p. 146; Machzor Vitri 375; Ravayah 2 Lulav p. 394; Mordechai Sukkah 760; Orchos Chaim 19; Hamanhig 1:25; Sefer Haminhagim p. 13; Shulchan Menachem 1:260
The reason: This custom is supported by the verse in Yehoshuaת “Lo Yamush Sefer Hatorah Hazeh Mipicha, Chazak Viematz.” [Rama ibid]
 M”A 139:13; Emes Leyaakov; Ledavid Emes 55; Chesed Lealafim 139:16; Ben Ish Chaiy; Kitzur SHU”A 23:3; Kaf Hachaim 139:24
 M”A 139:13
 See Kaf Hachaim 147:2; Sefer Haminhagim p. 13; Shulchan Menachem 1:260; Chikrei Haminhagim 2:183-186
 M”A 147:1 in name of many Poskim; Bach 147 that it is forbidden to do so and that so is the custom of the scrupulous to use a Tallis; See Maharit 136 and P”M 147 M”Z 1
 Taz 147:1 rules there is no requirement to do so, and the custom is not to do so even amongst the scrupulous; Implication of Shev Yaakov 11; Implication of Elya Raba 147:1; Noda Beyehuda Kama 7-8 [Custom to be lenient, no prohibition to be stringent]; See Emes Leyaakov 3:10; Machazik Bracha 147:3; Ledavid Emes 3:10; Kaf Hachaim 147:2 [Brings many Poskim and concludes that it is proper to be stringent]; Chikrei Haminhagim ibid
 The following Poskim conclude that it is permitted, and even proper to be stringent: Noda Beyehuda ibid concludes is permitted; Kaf Hachaim 147:2; Darkei Chaim Veshalom 214 that so was custom of Munkatcher; Toras Chaim Sofer 147:1
 Sefer Haminhagim p. 13 based on Sefer Mamarim 5708 p. 146 writes this as part of the Seder of the Aliyah and in the footnote the Rebbe writes that so was the custom of the Rebbe Rayatz
 Sefer Haminhagim p. 13 in footnote that this was not seen to be done by the other Chassidim; Chikrei Haminhagim 2:186 that the Rebbe’s custom throughout all the years was to hold onto the handles without a Tallis, with exception to Simchas Torah.
 Michaber 147:1
 Rama ibid
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