MISHNAH. IF ONE FINDS SCROLLS, HE MUST READ THEM EVERY THIRTY DAYS; IF HE CANNOT READ, HE MUST ROLL THEM. BUT HE MUST NOT STUDY [A SUBJECT] THEREIN FOR THE FIRST TIME. NOR MAY ANOTHER PERSON READ WITH HIM.
— Babylonian Talmud, Baba Metzia 29b
The Mishna passage goes on to include care of other found items: cloth, which must be shaken once every 30 days and aired out; silver and copper vessels, which are to be “used for their own benefit, but no [so much as to] wear them out”; and gold and glassware, which “may not be touched until Elijah comes.”
The Gemara then proceeds to discuss how to treat a borrowed Torah scroll:
- Don’t re-lend it to another person.
- It’s fine to open the scroll and read it, but don’t study a subject for the first time: studying a new topic would stress the scroll.
- The scroll may not be read by more than one person, because that would lead to multiple readers tugging, even if unconsciously, on the scroll.
- Someone holding a borrowed scroll “must roll it once every twelve months, and may open and read it, but if he opens it in his own interest, it is forbidden.”
- Some teachers say that new a new scroll should be rolled every thirty days, older ones, every twelve months.