Covering the Aron Kodesh with a Paroches
I have a Sefer Torah in Chabad house in a portable dresser/closet. What is the minhag in general regarding how many coverings and how to cover it? Right now it is just in the dresser (it’s the only thing in the dresser). There’s no paroches. Should I put a talis on the entire dresser, should I just cover the Torah itself inside with a talis? Or is it ok to just leave it the way it is, because either way no one is living permanently in the Chabad house?
If you can tell me if there’s a specific minhag, even if there’s no halachic necessity to do it that way, that’s good too.
The custom is to have a curtain always covering the Aron Kodesh’s door. This is not only to beautify the Aron Kodesh but a sign of modesty. This is based on the verse (Terumah 26:33) “… The partition shall separate for you between the Sanctuary and the Holy of Holies.” An additional reason is that the curtains are a cover over the aron, as was done in the midbar that the Klei Hakodesh (holy vessels) were covered. (See Bamidbar 4: 5 onwards).
Tosafos Megillah 26b s.v. Mereish. Terumas Hadeshen 68. Rama O.C. 154: 6. Shut Habach Hayshanos 17. Zerah Emes (Orach Chayim 26) from R. Yishmeal ben Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen. Brought in Shaarei Teshuvah 154: 10. Maharam Paduah 82. Yechave Daas 6:9.
The Rebbe writes that not having a paroches on the outside is a change of minhag yisroel. Igros kodesh 10: 83. Ibid. p. 152.
It seems that if there is no other set Paroches, a Tallis is to be placed on the outside of the Aron Kodesh. The Zereh Emes clearly writes that even if the curtain is not as nice as the Aron Kodesh, one still should cover it from the outside. However, this should only be temporary, for one should make an effort to place a set and beautiful Paroches.