- Question: [Friday, 20th Nissan, 5781]
On Chol Hamoed Pesach, must the second Sefer Torah be placed by the Bima before Hagbah of the first Sefer Torah? I always thought that we always need to place the second Torah scroll on the bimah before removing the first one, however today in shul I saw that they did not do so and I asked the rabbi as to why this was not done and he told me that it’s only necessary to do when the half Kaddish is recited, otherwise there is no need to bring the second Sefer Torah to the bimah until after Hagbah is performed and it is now its turn for reading. Is this correct?
Indeed, you are correct that according to Halacha the second Sefer Torah is to always be placed on the bimah before removing the first one [i.e. Hagbah] even on days that the half Kaddish is not recited until after the reading of the second Sefer Torah, such as on Chol Hamoed Pesach. I would suggest that you respectfully show the law to the Rabbi who gave you the mistaken ruling in order so he make sure that his shul does the correct order from now on.
Explanation: The above is a misconception that many people have that the whole reason why we place the second Torah scroll by the bimah before removing the first one is for the sake of having the half Kaddish count also for it. Thus, they mistakenly think that on days that half Kaddish is not recited until after the reading from the second scroll then there is no need to place it onto the Bima before removing the first scroll. This however is incorrect, as the Rama clearly states that one is to place the second Torah scroll onto the bimah prior to removing the first one in order so one does not remove his mind from the mitzvah’s, and this has nothing to do with whether half Kaddish is recited or not, and applies on all days that two scrolls are removed. Now, while it is also correct that one is supposed to place the second Torah scroll by the bimah before reciting the half Kaddish, this is a mere offshoot of the original law which states that one is to always place the second Torah scroll on the bimah before removing the first one and doing Hagbah, and is not limited to the case of the half Kaddish.
Sources: See Rama 147:8