(H) Hilchot Kriat Sefer Torah Siman 135-149

              Siman 135 Seifim 14

1. On Monday, Thursday and Shabbos mincha we read three aliyos, no less and no more and we do not read haftorah. If there are two chassanim in shul who are yisraelim it is permitted to add a fourth aliyah since for them it is a Yom Tov when additional aliyos are permitted. It would seem that the same halacha applies when there are two ba’alei bris since it is a Yom Tov for them as is seen below in siman 559. (The halacha for adding aliyos on Shabbos and Yom Tov is below in siman 282.)

2. The place where the reading ended on Shabbos morning is where they begin reading during mincha, Monday, Thursday and the next Shabbos morning. If a parshah was not read one week in the Bais HaKnesses on the following Shabbos they must read the missed parshah together with the scheduled parsha (See below siman 282).

3. A kohen is called to the Torah first, followed by a levi and after him a yisroel.

4. The common custom is that a kohen who is an am ha’aretz, assuming he is capable of reading, is called ahead of a great scholar who is a yisroel (however, if the kohen is only capable of reading word by word with the shaliach tzibbur it is sufficient as taught below in siman 139) because how can one who cannot read recite the beracha on Torah reading.

5. If the sefer Torah is open and the kohen is reading shema he is not permitted to interrupt and a yisroel is called instead. Similarly, on the fasts that follow Pesach and Sukkos when we read ויחל if there are no kohanim who are fasting a yisroel is called to read first. In this case it is preferable if the kohen exits the Bais HaKnesses.

 6. If a kohen enters the Bais HaKnesses after a yisroel began the beracha the yisroel should not stop his recitation of the beracha. If he only recited ברכו it is not considered as though he started the beracha and the yisroel should stand at the bimah until the kohen and levi finish reading and then he reads. If there aren’t any kohanim in the Bais HaKnesses a yisroel is called in place of a kohen and a levi is not called afterwards. A levi may be called for the first aliyah and when he is called for the first aliyah it should be announced that he is a replacement for the kohen so that people should not mistakenly think that he is a kohen.

7. If a kohen and levi are in a Bais HaKnesses and the kohen was called again not knowing there was a levi present and the kohen began the beracha for the second reading he should not be interrupted.

8. If there aren’t any levi’im in the Bais HaKnesses the kohen who read first should read again in place of the levi but another kohen should not be called to read so that people do not conclude that the lineage of the first kohen was blemished.

9. Two levi’im should not follow one another so that one should not think that one of them has blemished lineage.

10. The custom is to call kohanim successively with a yisroel called up between them. When the chazzan calls up the second kohen he should declare, “Even though he is a kohen.” Similarly, the custom is to call two levi’im following this procedure. Therefore, it is permitted for him to be called as for maftir following this procedure and if he is called for maftir without mentioning his name there is no concern that people will think his lineage is tainted since his name is not mentioned. Some say that one should not call a kohen or levi for one of the other seven aliyos but after the minimum number of people were called up it is permissible to call up a kohen or levi and this is the custom in these countries. However, when there is a need or in a pressing circumstance one may rely upon the first opinion.

11. There is an opinion that maintains that if a kohen or levi are called for an aliyah but they are not present another kohen or levi should not be called up by name out of concern that people will think the first person’s lineage is tainted; rather someone should ascend without being called (and this is our custom. A shaliach tzibbur who is a kohen may call another kohen to the Torah.)

12. In a city of kohanim – if there is a yisroel he should be called for the first aliyah out of considerations for peace. If there are not a sufficient number of kohanim or if there are no yisroelim it is permitted to call up kohanim consecutively since it will not raise questions concerning their lineage since everyone realizes that there are only kohanim present. The same halacha applies in a city of levi’im.

13. Whether a minor may read from the Torah is discussed in siman 282. If the only kohen is blind or incapable of reading, see siman 139.

14. A sefer Torah is not brought to people who are imprisoned even on Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. This restriction is limited to where the sefer Torah is brought only for Torah reading but if the sefer Torah is brought a day or two in advance it is permitted. If the person is honorable it is permitted in all circumstances.

            Siman 136 Seif 1

1. On Shabbos, Yom Tov and Yom Kippur after the levi aliyah we call Torah scholars who are leaders of the community, after them Torah scholars who are fit to be leaders of the community (who can be asked halachos in any area and can respond), after them the children of Torah scholars whose father’s are leaders of the community and then leaders of the community followed by everyone else.

           Siman 137 Seifim 6

1. On days when three aliyos are read we do not read any less than ten pesukim and וידבר counts as one of the pesukim. In the event that an idea is completed in less than ten pesukim, for example, the parsha of Amalek which only contains nine pesukim, it is sufficient to read only those nine pesukim.

2. No one may read less than three pesukim, therefore, two people should read three pesukim and the third should read four pesukim. Whoever one reads four pesukim is praiseworthy.

3. During Shabbos mincha, Monday and Thursday if a pasuk was skipped but ten pesukim were read besides the skipped pasuk it is not necessary to go back and read the skipped pasuk but if only nine pesukim were read they must go back. On Shabbos if a pasuk was skipped it is necessary for one to go back. Even if the sefer Torah was returned and kaddish was recited they must go back and read the skipped pasuk together with two other pesukim. Even if the haftorah was read and they davened mussaf they must go back and read the skipped pasuk. Torah reading on Yom Tov is the same as Shabbos mincha, Monday and Thursday since the parsha is read on its Shabbos.

4. If one person read only two pesukim he must go back and read again. If the three aliyos read only nine pesukim, three for each aliyah, they are not required to read again and the proof is parshas amalek. If they read less than nine pesukim they must go back and read again.

5. If the one reading parshas parah ended with the pasuk ולגר הגר בתוכם and rolled up the Torah he must open it up again and start from the beginning until תטמא עד הערב and recite the berachos before and after that reading.

6. If someone reads from the Torah and the second person repeats what was read by the first person if the second person added three pesukim or at least two pesukim when there was no alternative the second person is credited with an aliyah but if not his reading is not considered an aliyah except for the Sukkos bulls when there is no alternative.

          Siman 138 Seif 1

1. One who reads the Torah should not leave at the end of a paragraph less than three pesukim out of concern for those who may leave the Bais HaKnesses at that time who will think that the next reader will only read the two pesukim to the end of the paragraph. Similarly, one should not begin a paragraph by reading less than three pesukim out of concern for those who will arrive in the Bais HaKnesses and think that the previous reader read only two pesukim. Regarding these matters there is no difference between an open paragraph and a closed paragraph. It is permitted to stop before a paragraph that has only two pesukim. One should begin reading about something good and finish reading about something good. See below siman 428.

           Siman 139 Seifim 11

1. In a place where the one called to the Torah reads out loud for the tzibbur if he did not review the parsha two or three times on his own he should not be called to the Torah. In a place where a ba’al koreh reads he must prepare the reading.

2. One must protest giving an aliyah to someone who does not know how to read. If they need the person who does not know how to read, e.g. he is the only kohen or levi if he could read together with the ba’al koreh he may be called up but if not he should not be called up.  

3. Even the head of the Bais HaKnesses or the chazzan should not read until called upon to read. The custom is that when the ba’al koreh wants to read he may do so without obtaining permission since it is considered as though he was authorized to read as soon as he was appointed ba’al koreh. In these countries this is not the custom and the chazzan does not ascend unless called by the gabbai but he is not called by name as are others who receive an aliyah who are called by name, Ploni ben Ploni. If one’s father is an apostate for idolatry the son should be called using his paternal grandfather’s name but not his name by itself in order to not cause him embarrassment. This applies when he was never called using his father’s name but if the son is already an adult and people are accustomed to hearing him called up using his father’s name and then his father became an apostate he should be called up using his father’s name to avoid embarrassing him. There is also a concern that the apostate will become hateful. An asufi and sh’tuki should be called up using his maternal grandfather’s name and if that name is not known he should be called up with the name Avrohom similar to a convert. A blind person does not read since it is prohibited to read even a single word by heart (but Maharil writes that nowadays we call up blind people just as we call up amei ha’aretz.

4. Anyone who receives an aliyah recites a beracha before and after reading. He should open up the sefer before he recites the beracha to see the pasuk where he will begin reading and then recite the beracha. After reading he should roll up the sefer and recite the beracha. (When he recites the beracha before reading he should turn to the side so that it does not appear as though one is reading the beracha from inside the Torah. It seems to me that one should turn to his left.)

5. The custom is to cover the Torah between one reading and the next. (In these countries the custom is to roll up the Torah between readings and this practice should be followed.)

6. Borchu and the berachos must be recited out loud and those who recite them so that others cannot hear are mistaken. According to some opinions one is required to repeat the berachos out loud in order that the tzibbur should be able to hear and respond ברוך ה’ המברך ועולם ועד . If the tzibbur does not hear the one who recited beracha they may not answer אמן even if they heard the chazzan answer אמן.

7. After the tzibbur responds ברוך ה’ המברך לעולם ועד the one receiving the aliyah should also recite those words to include himself with those who are blessing Hashem.

8. If one was called for an aliyah immediately after he recited birchos hatorah he must repeat אשר בחר בנו for his aliyah since the beracha was enacted to give honor to the Torah when reading the Torah for the tzibbur.

9. If one was called for an aliyah before he recited birchos hatorah he is then exempt from reciting the beracha of אשר בחר בנו since this situation is no worse than one who discharges his obligation by reciting .אהבה רבה

10. In the beracha after Torah reading the words אשר נתן לנו תורת אמת refer to Torah she’bichsav and the words וחיי העולם נטע בתוכינו refer to Torah sheba’al peh.

11. One who receives an aliyah must grasp the Torah while he recites the beracha. This custom is connected with the pesukim in Yehoshua “לא ימוש ספר תורה הזה מפיך” followed by the words ” חזק ואמץ “. This is the basis of the custom to say חזק to the one who finishes reading Torah.

             Siman 140 Seifim 3

1. If someone was reading the Torah and could not continue his replacement should begin from the beginning of that aliyah and recite the berachos before and after the reading. According to Rambam the replacement does not repeat the beracha before reading. This halacha is true even nowadays that the ba’al koreh reads the Torah.

2. If someone who received an aliyah recites the beracha, reads a few pesukim and then interrupts with Torah or even mundane talk it is not considered an interruption and he does not have to repeat the berachos

3. If one who received an aliyah was shown the place to read and after reciting the beracha, regardless of whether he read some pesukim or not, realizes that he is in the wrong place and rolls the Torah to the correct place some authorities maintain that he is not required to repeat the beracha and others maintain that he must repeat the beracha.

                Siman 141 Seifim 8

1. The Torah reader must stand and even to lean on a wall or the shulchan is prohibited unless he is a heavy person. The chazzan must also stand with the reader.

2. Two people may not read together. Either the one who received the aliyah should read and the ba’al koreh should be silent or the ba’al koreh should read and the one who receives the aliyah should not read out loud. He is obligated to read together with the ba’al koreh so that his beracha should not be in vain but he should read quietly enough that he can not even hear himself reading. (In the event that he can hear himself it is not an issue since it is not different fromshemone esrei discussed above in siman 101.)

3. Some have the custom to have someone read each word for the one who receives an aliyah and after each word is read it is repeated by the one who received the aliyah.

4. If the ba’al koreh would like to read an aliyah himself it is necessary for someone to stand next to him for just as the Torah was given via a broker so too we require a “broker” present during krias hatorah.

5. The tzibbur may not answer אמן until the oleh finishes his beracha and the ba’al koreh may not begin to read until the tzibbur finishes answering אמן.

6. It is permitted to call up two brothers consecutively or a son after his father and it is only out of concern for עין הרע that we avoid doing so. Even if one receives the seventh aliyah and the other receives maftir the second one should not be called by name out of concerns for .עין הרע

7. One who ascends the bimah should ascend from the side that is closest and he should descend from the other side that is more distant. If the two paths are equidistant he should ascend the entrance that is to his right and descend from the other entrance. (He should not descend until the next person who will read has ascended.)

8. Any word that is written one way but read another, Halacha L’Moshe M’Sinai teaches that it must be written as it appears in the Torah but read differently.It happened once that someone insisted on reading a word according to its written form and after warning him they excommunicated him and removed him from the bimah.

             Siman 142 Seifim 2

1. If someone erred reading even a single letter wrong he must go back and read it correctly. The same halacha is true if the ba’al koreh errs. This applies only when the meaning changes as a result of the error but if one read the wrong trup or nikud he does not have to go back but he should be rebuked.

2. In a place that has a minyan but no one who can read from the Torah correctly and with the trup, they should nevertheless read correctly from the Torah with a beracha (and the haftorah from a navi. See the beginning of siman 143)

            Siman 143 Seifim 5

1. We do not read from the Torah with less than ten free adults. If they started reading with ten men and some of them left they may finish reading.

2. If just a chumash was written, even if it is rolled like a sefer Torah it may not be used for krias haTorah until all five chumashim are sewn together. And they must be rolled like a sefer Torah but regarding our chumashim even when all five books are together, a beracha would not be recited if it was used for krias hatorah. When there is a sefer Torah but no ba’al koreh who knows the trup by heart, I have seen places that have the shaliach tzibbur read with the trup from a chumash and the one who received the aliyah repeat the words reading from the valid sefer Torah.

3. Even in villages that do not have a valid sefer Torah they should not recite the beracha on the reading of Torah.

4. If a mistake was found in a sefer Torah during krias hatorah a new sefer Torah should be taken out and they should start reading from the place where the error was discovered and complete the minimum number of aliyos including the aliyos that were received from the sefer torah with the error. If the mistake was discovered while actually reading the Torah they should finish that reading from a valid sefer Torah and recite the beracha that follows that reading but they do not repeat the beracha before reading. If they already read three pesukim and it is possible to stop where the error was found they should stop reading and recite the beracha that follows Torah reading and complete the minimum number of aliyos from the other sefer Torah. Reading from a second sefer Torah is mandated only when there is a serious error but if there are missing or extra letters it is unnecessary to take out a second sefer Torah since our sifrei Torah are not so precise that we can say that the second sefer Torah would be any better. Reading from a second sefer Torah is mandated only when there is a serious error but if there are missing or extra letters it is unnecessary to take out a second sefer Torah since our sifrei Torah are not so precise that we can say that the second sefer Torah would be any better (Agur, Piskei Maharai, Ri’az and Maharil ruled that one should not take out another sefer Torah but Bais Yosef rules that one must remove another sefer Torah, therefore the above compromise must be reached). In a pressing circumstance when the tzibbur has only one sefer Torah that is invalid and there is no one available to repair it, there are authorities who permit reading from the Torah with the berachos but others disagree. If they have a single chumash without an error one may be lenient to read from that chumash even though there are mistakes in the other chumashim.

5. If a Bais haKnesses has only one person who knows how to read, he should read a few pesukim and recite the berachos that follow, then read another few pesukim with the berachos until he finishes the number of aliyos required for that day.

           Siman 144 Seifim 4

1. It is permitted to skip around while reading Navi but when reading the Torah it is not acceptable to skip from one parsha to another. This restriction is limited to two different topics where there is a concern that he will become confused. If the topic doesn’t change, for example, the topic of Yom Kippur found in acharei mos and emor that was read by the kohen gadol on Yom Kippur it is acceptable to skip so that he should not read the pesukim by heart since it is prohibited to read even one word by heart. In Navi it is permitted to skip to another topic as long as the tzibbur is not left in silence while they skip to the second topic. Furthermore, it is only permitted to skip within the same Navi but it is not permitted to skip from one Navi to another Navi. In Trei Asar it is acceptable to skip from one Navi to another but it is not acceptable to skip backwards.

2. On the Shabos when there is a chosson the custom is to read after the haftorah (According to some the term haftorah is related to the phrase אין מפטירין אחר הפסח which means to remove. In other words shacharis is removed) of the week two or three pesukim from the haftorah of שוש אשיש . When Rosh Chodesh occurs on Shabbos and Sunday after the week’s haftorah we read the first and last pasuk from the haftorah of מחר חדש and one should not protest the practice (See 425:2 and the end of 428 regarding our custom).

3. We do not roll a Torah in front of the tzibbur out of respect for the tzibbur. If the tzibbur has only one sefer Torah and they need to read two different sections they should roll the Torah and put aside the honor of the tzibbur.

4. One person should not be called to read in two sifrei Torah because it appears as if there is a blemish in the first sefer Torah but three people may be called to read from three sifrei Torah, e.g. when Rosh Chodesh Teves coincides with Shabbos, and there is no concern for blemishes.

           Siman 145 Seifim 3

1. During the period of the scholars of the Gemara they would translate the Torah so that the people would understand. The reader may not read to the translator more than one pasuk at a time. The translator may not begin to translate until the reader finishes reading the pasuk and the reader may not read the next pasuk until the translator finishes translating. The reader may not be louder than the translator not may the translator be louder than the reader. The reader may not assist the translator so that people should not think that the translation is written in the Torah.

2. An adult may translate the reading of a child but it is not respectful for a child to translate the reading of an adult.

3. Nowadays we are not accustomed to translating since there would be no benefit since we do not understand Aramaic

           Siman 146 Seifim 4

1. It is prohibited to exit while the sefer Torah is open but between aliyos it is permitted.

2. Once the reader begins reading it is prohibited to talk even Torah related matters even between aliyos even if one completed the parsha. Some authorities permit studying Torah quietly. Some maintain that if there are ten people listening to krias hatorah it is permitted to discuss (Torah related matters). Some permit this only for those for whom Torah is their profession. Some are lenient for those who began to learn before the sefer Torah was opened to turn away to indicate that they will not be listening. It is permitted to do שנים מקרא ואחד תרגום during krias hatorah. These leniencies do not apply for parshas zachor or parshas parah which Biblically must be read with a minyan and one must pay attention while they are read. It is correct for those who are meticulous to listen to the reader read every parsha.

3. It is prohibited to talk while the haftorah is read similar to the restriction during krias hatorah.

4. It is not necessary to stand while the Torah is read (some authorities are stringent and stand and this was the practice of Maharam). 

          Siman 147 Seifim 8

1. It is prohibited to touch a sefer Torah with one’s bare hands without a kerchief. Some maintain that the same halacha is true for other sacred writings but this is not the custom. It is appropriate to be stringent if one did not wash his hands but when it comes to a sefer Torah even this is prohibited. The most distinguished person who received an aliyah does gelilah and the custom is to purchase the honor for large sums of money in order to make the mitzvah dearer. Some maintain that if the covering is linen on one side and silk on the other the silk should be next to the sefer Torah and roll around the Torah but this is not the custom. The Torah should not be wrapped in a torn piece of material if another is available. One should not make a covering for a sefer Torah from old material that had already been used for a non-sacred purpose, see below siman 153.

2.Whoever wants to hand the cover to the gollel may do so and the gollel may not protest because even though he purchased the mitzvah of gelilah he did not purchase the right to take the cover himself. (Similarly, in those places where people purchase the right to take out and put away the Torah the shaliach tzibbur may not protest since this is not included in the privileges of the chazzan.)

3. The one who rolls the sefer Torah should assure that the seam in the middle so that if it tears it will tear on the seam.

4. When one rolls the sefer Torah he should do so from the outside and when he fastens it he should fasten it on the inside. Meaning, when the sefer Torah is standing before him the writing should be facing him and he should begin wrapping from the outside and after he finishes wrapping he should fasten the end of the cloth on the inside so that when he wants to read he will find it fastened on the inside and will not be forced to turn over the sefer Torah. It appears that this applies when one person does the entire gelilah but nowadays that one person lifts the Torah and another person wraps the Torah the script should face the one who lifts the Torah and that is the custom since he is the primary “golel” and the one who holds the Torah.

5. It is better to wrap the cloth around the sefer Torah rather than turn the sefer Torah into the cloth.

6. Someone who rolls a sefer Torah while in its case has erred.

7. The maftir may not begin the haftorah until they finish rolling the Torah so that the golel will not be distracted and could listen to the haftorah.  

8. On a day when they will read from two sifrei Torah the second Torah should not be opened nor should the cloth be removed until the first sefer Torah is rolled up. The first sefer Torah should not be removed until the second sefer Torah is placed on the table so that they do not become distracted from the mitzvah. We take out both sifrei Torah at the same time and the second one is held until after they finish reading from the first sefer Torah.

           Siman 148 Seif 1

1. The shaliach tzibbur is not authorized to fold up the covering on the shulchan as long as the tzibbur is still in the Bais HaKnesses. (Rashi explains that they used to bring the sefer Torah from another house where it was safe etc. and it was burdensome for the tzibbur to remain, see the Tur’s explanation.)

          Siman 149 Seif 1

1. The tzibbur may not exit the Bais HaKnesses until the sefer Torah is put away. If only an individual exits it is acceptable. If the sefer Torah is put into storage elsewhere and the Bais HaKnesses has only one doorway the people must remain until the sefer Torah is removed and the people should follow the sefer Torah to the place where it is stored. If the Bais HaKnesses has two exits the people may exit the other exit ahead of the Torah but they must still follow the sefer Torah to the place where it is stored. When the Torah is stored in the aron kodesh in the Bais HaKnesses there is a mitzvah for the people to accompany it to the aron if the Torah passes before them. Similarly, the golel must accompany the Torah to the aron and stand there until the Torah is returned to its place. This is also the custom for the one who lifts the Torah since he is the primary golel as was explained. There are those who write that children should be brought to the Bais HaKnesses to kiss the Torah to teach them and train them to perform mitzvos and this is our custom.

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