The Rav mentioned tonight that we are admonished to not put our fingers in our mouths or in our noses unless we wash our hands first with soap and water. And you even quoted the Gemara that says יד לחוטם תקצץ יד לפה תקצץ – “The hand that goes into the nose or into the mouth deserves to be cut off” (Shabbos 108b). So how do you reconcile that with the minhag that we have to kiss the sefer Torah?
I would advise you, don’t kiss a sefer Torah on the same place where other people kiss it. Bend over and come as close as you can without actually touching it with your lips. And make a loud sound, as if you’re kissing. That’s good enough.
There’s no chiyuv for you to swallow other people’s germs. The man just before you has a cold, and he put some of his saliva on the sefer Torah. And you’re not interested in catching a cold. So you just bend over and put your hand over your mouth so that people shouldn’t see that your lips aren’t touching. And give a big kiss, and Hakodosh Boruch Hu will give you schar just as much as if you had kissed it directly. When the Torah says ונשמרתם מאד לנפשותיכם, that you must always be on guard to protect your health, it applies to everything, even to kissing the sefer Torah.
TAPE # E-50 (February 2000)