1) SITTING ON OR NEXT TO A TORAH SCROLL
OPINIONS: The Gemara teaches that one who is traveling by donkey may not place a Torah scroll in a sack atop the donkey and sit on it, unless there is a danger that bandits or thieves will steal the Torah scroll.
We find a Halachah that a person may not sit on a bed or chair on which a Torah scroll is resting (SHULCHAN ARUCH YD 282:7). Is the Gemara here the source for this Halachah?
(a) The RIF (according to TALMIDEI RABEINU YONAH) understands that the two Halachos are the same. The Rif understands that the Gemara is saying that one may sit next to a Torah scroll on a donkey if there is a danger that it might be stolen. One may never sit directly on a Torah scroll, even if there is a risk that the Torah scroll will be stolen. It is better to lose the Torah scroll than to disgrace it by sitting on it. If there is no danger, then one may not even sit next to the Torah scroll, but one must hold it in his hands next to his heart.
(b) TOSFOS (DH v'Yirkav) understands the two Halachos as distinct. When traveling on a donkey, the Halachah is more lenient with regard to sitting next to a Torah scroll (because, presumably, there is no other way to ride with a Torah scroll). When it is necessary, one may even sit on the scroll in order to prevent it from being stolen.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 282:3) rules that "one may not ride upon a Torah scroll, but one must hold it to his chest." This seems to be consistent with the ruling of the Rif, who is stringent and does not allow one to ride with the Torah scroll next to him. The Shulchan Aruch continues and writes that if one is afraid of thieves, "then it is permissible." From here it seems that the Shulchan Aruch is lenient (not like the Rif) and permits one to ride on the Torah scroll if there is danger.
The SHACH cites the BACH who indeed is stringent (like the Rif) and prohibits riding on a Torah scroll under any circumstances. The Shach writes that although it is always best to do as much as possible to uphold the honor of the Torah scroll, if the only way to prevent it from being stolen is to sit on it, then one may sit on it. It is better to temporarily disgrace the Torah scroll than to allow it to be lost forever.
2) THE "CHASID" WHO SLEPT IN A CEMETERY
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that a certain Chasid gave away a large sum of money on the day before Rosh Hashanah. When his wife found out what he had done, she became angry. That night he went and slept in a cemetery.
If this person was a Chasid, then how could he sleep in a cemetery, a place of defilement (see also the Gemara later (43b) that says that a Talmid Chacham may not go out alone at night; see also Chagigah 3b with regard to one who sleeps in a cemetery)? This question is especially difficult in light of the Gemara that says that whenever a "Chasid" is mentioned in the Gemara, it refers to either Rebbi Yehudah ben Bava or Rebbi Yehudah bar Ila'i (Bava Kama 103b, Temurah 15b), both of whom were great and holy Tana'im.
(a) The KISEI RACHAMIM answers that he did not actually sleep inside the cemetery. He slept next to it.
(b) RAV YAKOV EMDEN says that his intentions were to show that he considered himself like a dead person before Hash-m, and to ask the dead to beseech Hash-m to have mercy on the living, particularly on Rosh Hashanah, the Day of Judgment. The Gemara in Ta'anis (16a) suggests that a person go to a cemetery on a day of fasting for these reasons.
(c) The MAHARSHA explains that he did not actually go to a cemetery. Rather, he caused a dream to appear to himself (in which he went and slept in a cemetery) through which he could find out how to avoid the coming year's afflictions.
(d) RAV YISRAEL SALANTER (in Or Yisrael) explains that the Gemara does not mean that his wife became angry, but rather that she angered him. Considering that it was the day before Rosh Hashanah, he decided to take urgent measures in order to humble himself and rid himself of his anger. For this reason he went and slept in a cemetery.
3) HE HEARD FROM THE SPIRITS WHAT WOULD HAPPEN NEXT YEAR
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that the Chasid heard the spirits discussing what afflictions would come to the world during the coming year. However, the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (8b) states that the heavenly court sits in judgment only at the time that the earthly court sanctifies the new moon, which is during the day and not at night (see also Rosh Hashanah 30b). If the heavenly court sits in judgment and issues its decrees only during the day, then how could the spirits already know -- the night before the decree was issued -- what would happen? (GILYONEI HA'SHAS of RAV YOSEF ENGEL)
ANSWER: The VILNA GA'ON explains that the Chasid slept in the cemetery on the night preceding the second day of Rosh Hashanah, after the decree had been issued on the first day.