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Question: Should a Sefer Torah be covered between aliyot?

Answer: There is not a clear cut halachic view on this matter. The Shuchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 139:5) rules that common custom is to cover a Sefer Torah between aliyot.

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The Rema notes that in his area the custom was to roll up the Sefer Torah between aliyot and that is what is important. The Mishnah Berurah (139:21) contends that the Rema implies that covering an open Sefer Torah is not sufficient. It must be rolled up. He cites the Taz that, accordingly, one need not cover a Sefer Torah between aliyot.

However, after Kaddish when the keriah has concluded or when there is a great span of time between aliyot – for example, when calling up a chatan – the custom is to cover a Sefer Torah.

Of interest is the ruling of the Aruch HaShuchan. He notes (Orach Chayim 139:16) that the custom to cover a Sefer Torah implies that the Sefer Torah is left open between aliyot (which is why a cover is necessary). The custom to roll a Sefer Torah, in contrast, implies that no cover is needed altogether.

A third custom is articulated by the Sha’ar Efraim. He notes (4:21) that even though a Sefer Torah is rolled up, it should still be covered because of kavod HaTorah. The Torah should not be uncovered during Mi’shebeirachs.

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