Ask!

For the week ending 23 November 2002 / 18 Kislev 5763

Public Bible; Kissing the Torah; Kaddish for Son

The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Public Library Bible

From: Daniel

Dear Rabbi,

Is a Jew allowed to donate a holy book (Artscroll Tanach) to a public library? Thanks.

Dear Daniel,

I spoke with Rav Moshe Sternbuch, shlita, and he said that as long as the public library will keep the book in an honorable way there is no problem with donating holy books.

An anecdote. I personally was involved in the transfer of holy books here in Jerusalem, but with a twist. A library affiliated with another religion had received boxes of Jewish prayer books. American Jewish armed-services personnel had been on a layover in Jerusalem and bought the books. After using them for Shabbat services the soldiers left the books behind in the hotel. From there the books were sent to the nearby non-Jewish library. The librarian knows me and asked if I’d like the holy books for Ohr Somayach, since their library had no customers for such books. I took them.

Kissing the Torah

Dear Rabbi,

Here’s my question: One thing has always bothered me in services. It’s the touching of the Torah with the prayer-book and kissing the prayer-book afterwards. This strikes me as a form of idolatry. It appears to be worshipping the Torah as an idol and we’re instructed by the Torah not to do that. How is this act not idolatry? Thanks for your many emails, and I look forward to your response.


Dear E. P.,

A kiss is a way of expressing love and affection, not only a means of worship. When a father kisses his child it does not mean he worships him (as an idol, at least!). We love the Torah, as it is our way of maintaining closeness to G-d. Therefore we express our love in the earthly manner we are used to, such as kissing, in order to encourage our feeling of love towards G-d and the Torah.

Kaddish for Son

From: J-anon@webtv.net

Dear Rabbi,

A various reference book I have found says that a son must say kaddish for his parents for 11 months. No where is it mandated that a father is to say kaddish for his son.

My son recently passed away and I am observing kaddish each morning at services. Is this required by Jewish law?

I will continue to say it regardless of your answer.

Thank you.


Dear J-Anon,

Firstly, please accept my condolences on the passing of your son. May G-d console you and your entire family among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

The minimum time to recite kaddish for a child is thirty days but it is completely permissible to continue to recite kaddish for the full eleven months as one does for a parent.

If I can be of any more assistance please do not hesitate to write again.

© 1995-2014 Ohr Somayach International - All rights reserved.

Articles may be distributed to another person intact without prior permission. We also encourage you to include this material in other publications, such as synagogue or school newsletters. Hardcopy or electronic. However, we ask that you contact us beforehand for permission in advance at ohr@ohr.edu and credit for the source as Ohr Somayach Institutions www.ohr.edu

« Back to Ask!

Ohr Somayach International is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation (letter on file) and your donation is tax deductable.