Covering a Megilla With Plastic for Safety or Convenience

Ask the Rov: I am having difficulty remembering the proper nekudos and trop for the entire megilla. May I place a clear plastic with the nekudos or trop on top of the megilla for leining?

By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin, Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah.

In various Torah obligations, the poskim discuss whether seeing through clear glass is halachically “seeing.”

To recite the bracha over fire by havdala, one must see the actual flame and not just its light. If it is behind glass, some rishonim hold that isn’t sufficient. The Alter Rebbe implies that it is allowed, though l’chatchila one should see the flame directly.

Although kidush levana is to be done outdoors under the sky, if needed it may be done through a window. In such a case, poskim are divided whether the window must be open; l’chatchila it should but it doesn’t need to be.

The Torah specifies that in the chalitza ceremony, the beis din must “see” the woman spit in front of their eyes, and they must therefore have complete vision in both eyes.

What about seeing through glasses? The consensus of the poskim is that glasses aren’t considered an obstruction to halachic “seeing” since their entire purpose is to enhance one’s view. (Still, by the chalitza ceremony which is min haTorah, some are stringent to see without glasses.)

If a drop of wax is covering a letter in the Torah, one may read from the Torah as long as the word is readable. Yet, poskim write to remove it before leining on a weekday for several reasons: since it is somewhat of an obstruction, it isn’t respectable, and it isn’t the way the Torah was given. 

Likewise, some poskim are concerned that a plastic covering over the Torah may be misconstrued as a part of the mitzva and may even involve bal tosif. Additionally, since one is not allowed to write nekudos in a Sefer Torah (see issue 399), one should also not add a plastic with nekudos which can lead to confusion. This concern, however, doesn’t exist by a megilla (as explained there), and b’dieved, a megilla with nekudos inside is kosher.

Therefore, although we do not use a plastic cover for a Torah, it would be allowed for a megilla if needed. Similarly, one may cover a megilla with plastic for Covid safety.

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