Bowing to the Sefer Torah
Some poskim quote the custom to bow to the sefer while reciting the beracha on the Torah.(52) However, others say that the custom is not to bow.(53) Whichever minhag one has he should do. One who does have the custom to bow should not bow at the end of the beracha because doing so would make it appear that he is adding to the bowing which is done on a daily basis (i.e. during Shemonei Esrei).(54)
Holding the Atzei Chaim during the Beracha
One is not allowed to hold a sefer Torah without a hefsek of some sort.(55) However, the minhag of most of klal yisroel is that one may indeed hold the atzei chaim of a sefer Torah without any separation.(56) While reciting the beracha, one should hold the atzei chaim with two hands.(57) When the laining begins (after his beracha), he should let go of the left atzei chaim and hold onto the sefer Torah with his right hand.(58) The reason for holding onto the Torah is to show we do not want to let the Torah be removed from our mouths.(59) Some say the reason we hold the Torah is to demonstrate by our aliyah that it is like we just got the Torah from Har Sinai.(60)
Just as there is a custom to hold onto the sefer Torah and not let go during the kriah, there is a custom to recite “chazak” after the last aliyah of each sefer.(61) Some say it is not clear where the custom to say chazak chazak v’nischazek came from,(62) and one should recite “chazak” three times which is the numerical equivalent of the word Moshe.(63) Nonetheless, the common custom is to recite chazak chazak v’nischazek after each sefer is completed.(64) Some say the custom is to recite v’nischazak instead of v’nischazek.(65) The oleh does not recite chazak etc. because doing so would be a hefsek between the laining and the beracha.(66) The ba’al koreh does recite chazak.(67) Some Sefardim say to the oleh chazak u’boruch at the end of every aliyah. (68)
(52) Magen Avraham 139:6, Elya Rabbah 7, Chesed L’alafim 135:9, Mishnah Berurah 19, Shulchan Hatohar 8, see Halacha Berurah 139:9. (53) Kaf Ha’chaim 25, Aruch Ha’shulchan 14. Refer to Lechem Chamudos Berochos 5:65. (54) Sharei Ephraim 4:4. (55) Shulchan Aruch 147:1. (56) Refer to Sharei Ephraim 4:4, Mishnah Berurah 147:2, Ve’alu Lo Ubol 1:page 101:118, Halichos Shlomo Tefilla 12:footnote 68, Orchos Rabbeinu 1:page 71:27, see Shulchan Hatohar 139:8 and Darchei Chaim V’Sholom 214 who argue. (57) Tur 139, Bach, Darchei Moshe 3, Prisha 3, Shulchan Aruch 139:11, Taz 9, Ben Ish Chai ibid. (58) Magen Avraham 139:18, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 23:3, Aruch Ha’shulchan 15. (59) Rama 139:1. (60) Bais Yosef, Levush 11, (61) Rama 139:11. See Levush 669:1, Aruch Ha’shulchan 139:15, Rivevos Ephraim 4:77:74, 6:155, Orchos Rabbeinu 2:page 313:18, Refer to Pri Chadash 139:11 for an additional reason for saying chazak. (62) Ketzos Ha’shulchan 84:13:badi 21, Rivevos Ephraim 5:232:2, see Eyunei Halachos 2:page 235. (63) Elya Rabbah 669:18, Chesed L’alafim 139:22, Aruch Ha’shulchan 139:15. Refer to Meor V’shemesh Vayichei page 58b. (64) Ketzos Ha’shulchan ibid, see Aruch Ha’shulchan ibid. (65) Horav Yisroel Belsky Shlita. Refer to Rivevos Ephraim 3:441, 8:613. This is based on a posuk in Shmuel 2:10:12. (66) Horav Yisroel Belsky Shlita, see Divrei Yatziv 1:130, Be’er Moshe 3:28, Shevet Ha’Levi 7:202:2:page 200, Rivevos Ephraim 2:98, 4:80, 5:233:1, 6:155, 8:578:11, Eyunei Halachos 2:page 238, see Nishmas Shabbos 2:253 where he argues. Refer to Yugel Yaakov page 142 quoting the opinion of Horav Henkin zt”l. The Shulchan Aruch Harav in hosofos to Lekutei Minhagim 4:page 726b says the oleh says chazak etc. (Refer to Eyunei Halachos 2:page 237). (67) Horav Yisroel Belsky Shlita, see Elya Rabbah ibid. However this is only if he does not get the last aliyah. (Horav Yisroel Belsky Shlita). (68) Yufei Leleiv 139:15, Chesed L’alafim 135:22, Kaf Ha’chaim 139:56, Halacha Berurah 139:19. The oleh answers back chizku v’amtzu.
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