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Returning the Sefer Torah


Torah service—after the reading of the Torah:

Let them praise the name of Adonai, for God’s Name alone is to be exalted.

God’s majesty covers the earth and the heavens. God has exalted the horn of His people, bringing glory to all His faithful ones: Israel, His intimate people. Hallelujah,{Psalm 148: 13-14}

And when it [the Ark] rested{Numbers 10:36}, he [Moses] would say “Return, Adonai, to the tens of thousands of the of the Israelites!” Advance, Adonai, to Your resting-place, You and the Ark of Your strength. Let your priests be clothed in righteousness, and Your faithful ones sing for joy. For the sake of David Your servant, do not turn away Your anointed one.{Psalm 132: 8-10}

For I have given you good instruction; do not forsake My Torah.{Proverbs 4:2} It is a tree of life to those who hold fast to it, and all of its supporters are happy. Its ways are ways of pleasantness and all its paths are peace.{Proverbs 3:18, 3:17} Return us to You, Adonai, and we shall return; renew our days as of old.{Lamentations 5:21}


Once more, the Holy Ark——is opened and the congregation rises as the Torah scrolls—sifrei Torah—are paraded around the synagogue prior to being re-deposited into the Ark. It is considered disrespectful to turn one’s back on the sifrei Torah, and so it is customary for each worshiper to turn in place to follow them with his eyes as they make the circuit of the synagogue

Immediately upon placing the sifrei Torah back into the aron kodesh, we recite a verse from Numbers 10:36, “And when it rested, Moses would say…” This completes the narration from Numbers 10:35, that we recited when the sifrei Torah were first removed from the aron kodesh: “And when the Ark would travel, Moses would say…” (see above, Taking out the Sefer Torah).


Just as the Torah scrolls are being returned to their home, we ask God, in the words of the Book of Lamentations, to return us to our home: “Return us to You, Adonai, and we shall return; renew our days as of old.”

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