Torah Reading Procedures (II)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

By: Rabbi Ari Enkin

While a Kohen is always awarded the first Aliya, and a Levi the second one, in the event that no Kohen is present there does not exist an obligation to call the Levi first. In fact, once an Yisrael has been called to the Torah in place of a Kohen, a Levi may no longer be called up for the second Aliya.[1] One who was called by name to the Torah is obligated to ascend no matter where he is holding in his own prayers.[2] The one exception to this rule is if he is in the middle of Shemoneh Esrei where no interruptions are allowed.

The most prestigious Aliya to receive is the last Aliya of each of the five books of the Torah. On a regular Shabbat however, the sixth Aliya,[3] followed by the third Aliya,[4] are the most prestigious. On a Shabbat that includes a very distinct reading, such as the Ten Commandments and the like, it is considered a great honor to be called for those readings.[5] A blind person can be called for an Aliya to the Torah.[6] One is permitted to accept two Aliyot at the same Torah reading.[7] 

One who has been honored to receive an Aliya to the Torah should proceed to the Bima without delay using the shortest possible route.[8] The Oleh is shown the place where his reading is to begin and he should kiss that spot with his Tallit or the Gartel. Some recite the blessings with the scroll open,[9] but most people close the scroll before reciting the blessings.[10] Some have the custom to both close and cover the Torah scroll before the Oleh recites the blessings.[11] Even though everyone says the blessings over Torah study each morning, one who receives an Aliya recites them an additional time as well due to “the honor of the congregation”.[12]  In ancient times not everyone who was called to the Torah recited these blessings, only those who were called first and last.[13] 

When the Oleh recites the blessings he should have in mind that they refer not only to the written Torah before him, but to the oral Torah as well.[14] He should ensure that the congregation can hear his blessings loud and clear.[15] Both the reader and the Oleh must be standing when the Torah is read, and as such, they should be careful not to lean on the Shulchan.[16] The Oleh is to read silently along with the Ba’al Koreh.[17]Close relatives should not receive Aliyot in immediate succession.[18] There should be someone standing on both sides of the Shulchan thereby ensuring a minimum of three people at the Torah at all times.[19] These three people standing at the Torah as it is read represent God, Moshe, and the Jewish people, respectively.[20]


[1] Piskei Teshuvot 135:10

[2] Mishna Berura 66:26

[3] Which is a segula for long life

[4] Originally intended for scholars and community leaders. Gittin 60a

[5] Piskei Teshuvot 136:3

[6] O.C. 139:4

[7] Shraga Hameir 5:115

[8] O.C. 141:7

[9] O.C. 139:4, Aruch Hashulchan 139:12

[10] Sha’arei Ephraim 4:3

[11] Kaf Hachaim 139:4

[12] Tur O.C. 140, O.C. 139:8

[13] Aruch Hashulchan 139:11

[14] Tur O.C. 139. O.C. 139:10

[15] O.C. 139:6

[16] O.C. 141:1

[17] O.C. 141:2

[18] O.C. 141:6, Mishna Berura 141:19

[19] O.C. 141:4

[20] Minhag Yisrael Torah 141:2

About Ari Enkin

Rabbi Ari N. Enkin, a resident of Ramat Beit Shemesh, is a researcher and writer of contemporary halachic issues. He is the author of the “Dalet Amot of Halacha” series (8 volumes), Rabbinic Director of United with Israel and a RA"M at a number of yeshivot. www.rabbienkin.com

28 comments

  1. “In ancient times not everyone who was called to the Torah recited these blessings, only those who were called first and last”

    Because only one person was called up- the person who read. Then when people couldn’t do that, they divided it among seven people. This is still done among Yemenites. Then when people couldn’t do that, they had one baal koreh do it while the seven olim read along with him.

    “Which is a segula for long life”

    A source?

  2. as far as I understand the for misnagdim shlishi is best, and for chasidim (sefardim too?) its shishi. From what I understand there are “Bad” aliyot as well.

    Also,
    can a blind man get an aliyah?

  3. Nachum –

    Cited in Piskei Teshuvot 136:3.

    Ari Enkin

  4. Moshe –

    I mentioend this in the post. See the sentence/footnote 6.

    Ari Enkin

  5. “On a regular Shabbat however, the sixth Aliya,[3] followed by the third Aliya,[4] are the most prestigious.”

    This is chassidic practice. Amongst mainstream Ashkenazim, shlishi is theoretically the most prestigious aliya. In fact, nowadays most people treat maftir has the most prestigious aliya.

    “Some recite the blessings with the scroll open,[9] but most people close the scroll before reciting the blessings.”

    I don’t understand how you can cite sources for what most people do or don’t do, particularly when the sources cited are not contemporary.

    Based on anecdotal experience, yeshivish-type people keep the scroll open, while balabatim close it.

  6. nowadays most people treat maftir has the most prestigious aliya.
    =================================
    lol, and hagbah/glilah as a consolation prize. olam hafuch raiti.

    btw iiuc r’ybs held the oleh must open the sefer himself as this is the mchayev for the bracha.
    KT

  7. First paragraph: “Where he is holding in his own prayers.” This is “yinglish,” not English. It is a bizzare, yeshivish way of translating directly from Yiddish into English. However, it is not English and would not pass muster in any scholarly writing in which grammatical correctness is expected.

  8. Moshe: Yes, a blind man may receive an aliyah. I’ve seen it done.

  9. “Some recite the blessings with the scroll open,[9] but most people close the scroll before reciting the blessings.”

    I don’t understand how you can cite sources for what most people do or don’t do, particularly when the sources cited are not contemporary.

    “Moshe: Yes, a blind man may receive an aliyah. I’ve seen it done.”

    This is an interesting contrast. The first commentator notes, correctly, that halachic sources are not appropriate support for an empirical observation.

    Your response regarding a blind person’s having an aliyah raises the mirror image problem — an empirical observation is not (necessarily) an answer to a halachic question.

  10. Anonymous: The Rema (OC 139:3) explicitly permits giving an aliyah to a blind man. I was only adding that I’ve actually seen it done (in my shul).

  11. Yes, ironic that people consider Maftir more prestigious as I believe a katan can have that aliyah.

    Also, you note “The Oleh is shown the place where his reading is to begin and he should kiss that spot with his Tallit or the Gartel.” I believe it’s best to not touch the letters davka as they can be damaged (I’ve seen people rub them hard or even do a wide hard swipe across the entire column, while I as the baal koreh shudder).

    I suggest it’s better to touch in the blank part of the klaf alongside the line where the aliya begins or at the blank part at the bottom under the column.

  12. Also I’ve been told that the reason some close the Sefer Torah when saying the Brachot is so that noone mistakenly thinks that he is reading them from the Torah. Those who leave the sefer open often say the brachot while turned to oneside (for the same reason, I presume).

    Similarly, I was taught when laining the final pasuk of one of the five books that I should close the Sefer Torah before saying “Chazak, Chazak . . “. Again, so noone will think that I’m reading that from the Torah.

  13. Joshua Josephs

    Not mentioned here are various customs regarding holding the Torah while reciting the brachot or during the leining. Ive sent it held closed with both hands or just the left hand during brachot and generally held open with the right hand during the leining.

  14. R. ENKIN:

    “In ancient times not everyone who was called to the Torah recited these blessings, only those who were called first and last.”

    iirc the first oleh said the first blessing and the last oleh said the second blessing

    “The most prestigious Aliya to receive is the last Aliya of each of the five books of the Torah”

    i thought it was gelila (which is probably really hagba?)

    “On a Shabbat that includes a very distinct reading, such as the Ten Commandments and the like, it is considered a great honor to be called for those readings”

    it is also practical, since there are views that one should not get up for the ten commandments (or other distinct parts), this way it as if people are getting lichvod harav

    “One is permitted to accept two Aliyot at the same Torah reading”

    and if there is no levi the kohen must take his aliyah

    “A blind person can be called for an Aliya to the Torah.”

    acc. to shaarei efarim, not not for parsha averes (similar for shavur)

    “Both the reader and the Oleh must be standing when the Torah is read”

    what if oleh is handicapped or elderly? what if is a chiyuv?

    “The Oleh is to read silently along with the Ba’al Koreh.”

    yes, silently

    “Close relatives should not receive Aliyot in immediate succession”

    one can receive shevi’i/acharon and then maftir, but don’t call second relative by name. if maftir is from another sefer than can call him by name. (shaarei efraim.) personally i never understood this ayan hara business.

  15. While it may be true that there is no obligation to call up a levi first in absence of a cohen, some ashkenazim have the custom to call up a levi first based on the rema O”Ch 135:6, with the stipulation that he is bimkom cohen.

  16. NACHUM:

    “Because only one person was called up- the person who read”

    this sounds somewhat familiar, but what’s your source?

    TORONTO YID:

    “Also I’ve been told that the reason some close the Sefer Torah when saying the Brachot . . .”

    yes

    “Similarly, I was taught when laining the final pasuk of one of the five books that I should close the Sefer Torah before saying “Chazak, Chazak . . “”

    interesting

    “I believe a katan can have that aliyah.

    yes. that’s strait halacha.
    i’ve also seen a katan get an aliyah on simchas torah

    “I suggest it’s better to touch in the blank part of the klaf . . .:”

    agreed

  17. MiMedinat HaYam

    all discussions of this type should be preceded by a disclaimer that almost all of these halachot are subject to local mihag / custom. in this field particularly.

    1. blind person — there are even some (?many?) that say a blind baal koreh, who was sighted when he previously was a baal koreh, can be a baal koreh. therefore, what pblm is there with a blind person having an aliyah?

    2. kohen — i presume a kohen who is not kosher (moom or over / under age or challal) can also get an aliyah (per igrot moshe that he can duchen.)

    3. taymanim (yemenites) give aliyah if not yet bar mitzvah age, too.

    4. can you give a source (is there really such a minhag?) that one holds the sefer with his right hand during the aliyah?

    5. re marking the beginning of the aliyah with a talit (see a sefer in a “minyan factory” ( = shul where there are constant minyanim from 6am till 11am, etc) where rosh chodesh and even vayichal are rubbed out. (i use the sefer’s gartel,. not a talit, and use the roll up area, per rav landau z”l of the landau shul minyan factory.)

  18. MMY:

    “there are even some (?many?) that say a blind baal koreh, who was sighted when he previously was a baal koreh, can be a baal koreh”

    who are some or many that say this?

    “3. taymanim (yemenites) give aliyah if not yet bar mitzvah age, too.”

    what i’ve seen among teimanim is they give an aliyah (shishi?) to a katan (because he is pure), but then the next oleh rereads it

  19. MMY:

    “per igrot moshe that he can duchen”

    do you know where this is?

  20. Abba, MiMedinat & others…

    Great Ha’aros. I will probably do another post focusing strictly on Aliyot in the near future.

    Ari Enkin

  21. there are even some (?many?) that say a blind baal koreh, who was sighted when he previously was a baal koreh, can be a baal koreh

    Who says that? I find it hard to believe, since one is supposed to READ the Torah, not recited the pesukim from memory. Has the tsibbur fulfilled its obligation if the baal keriah recites the parsha from memory?

  22. MiMedinat HaYam

    the rationale is that he was a baal koreh when sighted.

    chust shtiebel on 12 ave bet 51/52 st in boro park. the rebbe z”l was the reguklar baal koreh, and continued, with no objection (he was the rebbe, etc. but “yesh al ma lismoch”. dont have sources.) that shul is famous in the context of many girls given their names in that shul, since its closest to maimonides hospital (ranks second in nys for births; columbia presbeterian is first, but that is prob cause of high risk done there.) for those who want to give the name asap (mostly litvaks, but … maybe good topic for post, too.

    2. igrot moshe on baal moom kohen can duchen — its one of the meir kahane hy”d tshuvot. (disclaimer — the kohen later davened in my shul regularly in flatbush. he sometimes did, sometimes didnt duchen. but he did get the first aliyah in the “rotation”.)

  23. Tal-

    There are a number of rishonim who rule that READING the Torah is not needed and that just saying the pesukim (in front of an open Torah) is good enough. I think that’s the Rambam’s shita, as well.

    VERY OFTEN an inexperienced baal koray says the last few words of an aliya by memory. (ie. he is already looking away from the scroll/preparing for the next reading, etc..) In such cases the congregation is actually relying on these rishonim.

    Ari Enkin

  24. Ari:

    And just as often, he’d be wrong. The baal koreh should read every word.

    How does your statement jibe with the fact that it is, in fact, assur to read from Tanach by heart? As it happens, this is related to issur of writing down Torah Shebeal Peh, and as the latter has faded, so has the former, but some people are still careful to keep it, as it officially remains in effect.

  25. Nachum-

    Even according to those who are makpid about pesukim by heart … there is general consensus that it does not apply to pesukim most people are known to know. It can be said that a baal koray is known to know the parsha by heart and therefore, this angle of the issue, would not apply.

    Ari Enkin

  26. There are a number of rishonim who rule that READING the Torah is not needed and that just saying the pesukim (in front of an open Torah) is good enough. I think that’s the Rambam’s shita, as well.

    Could you cite sources please.

  27. Tal-

    See Pe’er Hador 9. (The Rambam’s teshuvos).

    You will also find some stuff in Pitchei Teshuvot 142:8 (see the footnotes there — and the sources quoted.). But the main thing is the Pe’er Hador.

    Ari Enkin

  28. As to Nachums first point that there was 1 B’rahca before and after because it was 1 person, the Lashon the Poseiach and the Chosem actually means 2 separate people, in fact there were many and only the first made the opening B’racha and the last the concluding B’racha. (This is all part of the question as to whether it’s appropriate to add Aliyos today)
    Regarding a blind Ba’al Koreh, the language of the Rema in 139; the M”A there and the T”Z in 141 makes it clear that the Heter for a blind person to receive an Aliya is only because there is a Ba’al Koreh who can see, but the one reading must be able to see.

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our Weekly Newsletter


The latest weekly digest is also available by clicking here.

Subscribe to our Daily Newsletter

Archives

Categories

%d bloggers like this: