How We Treat Holy Objects in Our Lives

Just as we are commanded to revere God Himself, so must we request places and objects which are associated with His worship. The Torah teaches this through juxtaposition, as God says, “Revere My Sanctuary- I am God” (Leviticus 19:30, 26:2). One should therefore show the utmost respect for a synagogue, which is also considered a sanctuary.

When picking up a sacred book which has fallen to the ground, it is customary to kiss it as a sign of love and respect for God’s teachings. For the same reason, it is customary to kiss a sacred book when closing it and putting it away. It is likewise customary to kiss one’s Tefillin when putting them on and off.

Sacred books and religious articles should always be handled with respect. One should be careful to place a sacred book right side up. They should always be placed in a respectful place. Therefore, one should not lay them on the floor, nor sit upon a bench where they are lying, unless it is slightly raised. It is forbidden to make use of a sacred book for anything other than for what it is intended. Therefore, one shouldn’t use a book as a sunshade, a prop, a bookmark, or hide anything in it. This applies no matter what language the book is written in.

Although we are commanded to respect sacred articles, it is not the objects that we revere, but God who makes them sacred.

Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, Handbook of Jewish Thought, p. 81, 89, 93

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