The Mishna in today’s daf (Eruvin 10:3, 97b) speaks of someone reading a sacred scroll (i.e. containing biblical verses) in a raised private domain when, suddenly, one end of the scroll fell and rolled into the space of a public domain.
According to the Tana Kamma, if the fallen end of the scroll was more than 10 tefachim from the ground, it may be rolled back up, but if it fell lower than this, it must be left as is but should be overturned so the sacred text is downward facing (to show respect for the text of the sacred writings). Rabbi Yehuda disagrees and allows for the scroll to be rolled up even if is it hanging just above the ground. While Rabbi Shimon rules that even if the fallen end touches the ground, it may be rolled up because the rabbinic prohibition of rolling the scroll is overridden by the duty to show respect for sacred writings.
Clearly, underpinning all three opinions is a profound reverence towards the sacred words found in sacred scrolls and the respect that Jewish law affords those words. Yet, a survey of rabbinic literature teaches us something even more profound – that sacred texts are more than just words. Instead, they are teachers, and to disrespect a sacred scroll is to disrespect a teacher of the sacred word.
For example, we are taught that just as a halachic decisor should not render a halachic decision in the presence of their teacher prior to seeking their opinion, a halachic decisor should not render a halachic decision before researching the matter in the halachic books that they own. This is because books are considered to be like teachers.
Moreover, while there is a general rabbinic rule that someone should not learn Torah on their own because they are likely to err, if a person learns from books then they may do so alone because books are considered to be like teachers.
True, the Gemara teaches us that we should respect a teacher more than a sacred scroll. Still, it seems clear that the respect we give to sacred scrolls emerges not only from the sacred words, but from the fact that these scrolls and these words are teachers – towards which we should show the utmost of respect.