May one sit on the same bench as a Sefer

May one sit on the same bench as a Sefer?[1]

It is forbidden to sit on a bed which has a Sefer Torah lying on it.[2] The same applies to all other Sefarim; that one may not sit on a surface that contains a Sefer.[3]

If the Sefer is elevated from the surface:[4] From the letter of the law, one may sit on a surface that contains [even] a Sefer Torah, if it is elevated one Tefach [8 cm] from the surface [such as if it is resting on another item that is on top of the bench/bed]. Nevertheless, it is proper to be stringent as an act of piety[5] that the Sefer Torah be elevated ten Tefach above the surface, and at the very least, three Tefach [24 cm] above the surface.[6] [Practically, the above act of piety only applies to a Sefer Torah, however by other Sefarim, one may sit on the same surface as the Sefer so long as it is elevated at least one Tefach from the surface.[7] Some Poskim[8] however rule that by other Sefarim it suffices if the Sefer is slightly elevated from the surface through it resting on an item of any height, even though it does not reach one Tefach above the surface.]

Time of need-In a Beis Midrash:[9] In the Beis Midrash during learning hours, if there is lack of space for people to sit, it is permitted to sit on the same surface as a Sefer, even if the Sefer is not elevated at all from the surface.[10] Some[11] however say that one should not be lenient in this at all, being it appears one is belittling the Sefer. [Practically, one may be lenient, although one who is stringent is praised.[12]] The above allowance only applies to a Beis Midrash during learning hours, however in other areas, one must be careful that the Sefer rest on some item, as explained above.[13]

 

Summary:

One may not sit on the same surface as a Sefer unless the Sefer is elevated from the surface at least one Tefach. Some are lenient even if the Sefer is elevated less than a Tefach. If there is lack of space in a Beis Midrash and one is unable to elevate the Sefer on top of an item, one may be lenient to sit on the bench with the Sefarim, although one who is stringent is blessed.

Sefer Torah: One may not sit on the same surface as a Sefer Torah unless the Sefer Torah is elevated one Tefach from the surface, and it is best to be stringent that it is elevated ten Teafchim, or at least three Tefachim from the surface.

Q&A

If a bench or couch contains two different areas of sitting, such as individual cushions or seats, may one sit on one cushion/seat if there is a Sefer resting on another one of the cushions/seat?[14]

Yes.

 

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[1] 282:7; Rav Huna in Menachos 32b; Moed Katan 25

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule there is no prohibition involved in sitting on the same surface as a Sefer Torah. [Rebbe Yochanon in Menachos ibid and so rules Tosafus ibid]

[2] Michaber ibid; See Menachos ibid that it once happened to one of the Amoraim that he sat on the same surface as a Sefer Torah and when he noticed he jumped up as if he was bitten by a snake, due to his great pain.

[3] Rama ibid towards end “The same applies by other Sefarim”, as explained in Shach 282:9 that he is going also on this Halacha; Aruch Hashulchan 282:12; See Shevet Halevi 3:11 “This matter is a mere stringency”

[4] Shach 282:8 based on Beis Yosef; Aruch Hashulchan 282:12; See Tosafus Menachos ibid that some say it suffices for the Sefer Torah to be elevated one Tefach while others rule it suffices to be elevated even a smaller amount.

[5] So rules Shach ibid; However see Chayeh Adam 31:43 that it is not a Midas Chassidus, but is required from the letter of the law.

[6] The reason: As less than three Tefach is considered attached to the ground, and is not considered elevated at all. [ibid]

[7] Aruch Hashulchan 282:12; Kitzur SHU”A 28:4; See Shach 282:9 in name of Rebbe Manoach “However when it was not in the area of the Beis Hamidrash he would be careful that the Sefer rest on some item, irrelevant of height” Vetzaruch Iyun if the Shach ibid is referring to a case that there is no room to sit or even when there is room to sit elsewhere.

[8] Implication of Shach ibid in name of Rebbe Manoach; Chayeh Adam 31:43; Misgeres Hashulchan 28:4; See Tosafus Menachos ibid that some say it suffices even for a Sefer Torah to be elevated any amount.

Ruling of Shach ibid:  Shach 282:9 rules in name of Rebbe Manoach “However when it was not in the area of the Beis Hamidrash he would be careful that the Sefer rest on some item, irrelevant of height” Vetzaruch Iyun if the Shach ibid is referring to a case that there is no room to sit or even when there is room to sit elsewhere. Seemingly, the difference of understanding this statement is the source behind the dispute of the Poskim ibid if a Tefach is required or not.

[9] Shach 282:9

[10] Shach ibid in name of Rebbe Manoach; Beis Yosef; Beir Hagoleh

[11] Shach ibid in name of Orchos Chaim

[12] Aruch Hashulchan 282:12

[13] Shach ibid in name of Rebbe Manoach “However when it was not in the area of the Beis Hamidrash he would be careful that the Sefer rest on some item, irrelevant of height”; Vetzaruch Iyun if Rabbeinu Manoach ibid here is referring even to a case that there is no room to sit elsewhere, but it is not a Beis Midrash, or even when there is room to sit elsewhere, that it suffices for the Sefer to rest on any item. The Chayeh Adam ibid rules that in all cases of need one may be lenient to sit on the same surface as a Sefer, if there is no other space available.

[14] Shevet Halevi 3:11

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