We are continuing in siman 21, discussing the concept of ma’alin bakodesh. The Chayei Adam writes that due to the concept of ma’alin bakodesh, an aron kodesh cannot be used for anything other than Sifrei Torah. Sifrei Neviim, other seforim and tzedakah cannot be placed inside.
However, the Chayei Adam writes that the minhag appears to be to keep pasul Sifrei Torah in the aron kodesh as well. Once the Sefer Torah is pasul, it loses its level of kedusha and has the status of the chumash at the time of Chazal (see shiur 1453). If so, it no longer has the level of kedusha for which the aron is designated. The Chayei Adam writes that we must conclude that lev bais din masneh aleyhem, bais din has created an automatic stipulation that when the aron kodesh was originally designated, it was designated for pasul Sifrei Torah as well. This tenai works even though it is not spoken out explicitly. This tenai is mentioned in siman 154.
He points out that a person should not put a chumash into the aron kodesh even for a short time. Some people have a minhag that when all of the Sifrei Torah are taken out of the aron kodesh, such as Hoshanah Rabbah or Simchas Torah, they place a chumash or candle inside the aron. We can assume that those who have the minhag to do so are relying on a tenai regarding this situation as well. However, the Mishnah Berurah, from the Taz, feels it is not proper to do, because it is lowering the kedusha of the aron.
The Chayei Adam clarifies that an aron kodesh refers to a box which is built for the purpose of placing a Sefer Torah. However, an aron kodesh which is basically a hole made into the wall, whether of stone or wood, does not have kedusha. The wall itself does not have the kedusha of an aron kodesh, as it is just a part of the wall of a beis hakenesses, which can be used for chumashim, tzedakah, or anything of the like. Furthermore, if it is not a place appropriate for a Sefer Torah, because it is part of the outer wall and is wet or cold, it does not have the kedusha of an aron kodesh.
- An aron kodesh cannot be used for anything other than Sifrei Torah.
- Sifrei Torah which are pasul are kept in the aron because of an assumed tenai of bais din.
- it is not appropriate to place a chumash or candle into an empty aron. Some people have a minhag to allow it, but the Mishnah Berurah discourages it.
- If the aron is hole made into the wall, it does not have the kedusha of an aron and could be used for other things.