Halakhah

“In Spanish/Portuguese congregations, hagbah was entrusted only to a select group known as levantadores….”

The Mishnah Berurah (147:7) cautions that a weak person should never be honored with hagbah. In Spanish/Portuguese congregations, hagbah was entrusted only to a select group known as levantadores (Spanish for “raise up,” it referred to “master lifters” of the scroll), thus honoring them and minimizing the risk of someone mishandling the Torah (Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd ed. [2008], vol. 8, s.v., Hagbah p. 207). The fear of dropping the Torah or mishandling the parchment led some Italian communities in the eighteenth century to abolish hagbah altogether, a practice defended by the Chida (L’David Emet, 5746, p. 13).

Ari Z. Zivotofsky, “What’s the Truth about . . . How Much to Open the Torah for Hagbah?”, Jewish Action (Winter 5778/2017), 80, n. 11.