Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day
Tefilah and Birkat Kohanim Tefilah and Birkat Kohanim - Chapter Eleven, Tefilah and Birkat Kohanim Tefilah and Birkat Kohanim - Chapter Twelve, Tefilah and Birkat Kohanim Tefilah and Birkat Kohanim - Chapter Thirteen
Tefilah and Birkat Kohanim - Chapter Eleven
Wherever ten Jews live, it is necessary to establish a place for them to congregate for prayer at the time of each prayer service.
This place is called a Beit K'nesset. The inhabitants of a city can compel each other to construct a synagogue and to purchase scrolls containing the Torah, the Prophets, and the Sacred Writings.
When a synagogue is built, it should be built only at the highest point of the city [as implied by Proverbs 1:21]: "She cries at the head of the public places." It should be built [so that] its height exceeds [that of] all the other buildings in the city [as implied by Ezra 9:9]: "to lift up the house of our God."
The entrance to the synagogue should open only on the east [as implied by Numbers 3:38]: "...And those who camped before the sanctuary on the east."
In [the synagogue], a heichal, where the Torah scroll is placed, should be constructed. The heichal should be constructed in the direction to which the people pray in that city, so that they will face the heichal when they stand to pray.
A platform is placed in the center of the hall, so that the one who reads the Torah or one who gives a sermon can stand on it, so that all the others will hear him.
When one positions the tevah which contains the Torah scroll, one should position it in the center of the hall, in the direction of the heichal and facing the people.
How do the people sit in the synagogue? The elders sit facing the people with their backs toward the heichal. All the people sit row after row, each row facing the back of the row before it. Thus, all the people face the sanctuary, the elders, and the tevah.
When the leader of the congregation stands to pray, he stands on the ground, before the tevah, facing the sanctuary like the others.
Synagogues and houses of study should be treated with respect. They should be swept clean and mopped.
All the Jews in Spain, the west, Babylonia, and Eretz Yisrael, are accustomed to light lamps in the synagogue and spread mats over the floor to sit on. In European communities, they sit on chairs.
No lightheadedness - i.e., jests, frivolity, and idle conversation - should be seen in a synagogue. We may not eat or drink inside [a synagogue], nor use [a synagogue] for our benefit, nor stroll inside one.
On a sunny [day], one should not enter [a synagogue to seek shade] from the sun, and on a rainy [day], [one should not enter a synagogue to seek shelter] from the rain. [However,] the sages and their students are permitted to eat and drink in a synagogue because of the difficulty [observing the prohibition would cause them].
It is forbidden to calculate accounts in [a synagogue], unless the accounts are connected with a mitzvah: for example, the collection of charity, the redemption of captives, or the like.
[Similarly,] eulogies should not be recited inside them, except a eulogy that involves many [of the inhabitants of the city]; for example, [if] there were a eulogy of the great sages of that city for which all the people would gather together and come.
If a synagogue or a house of study has two entrances, one should not use it for a shortcut, i.e., to enter through one entrance and leave through the other to reduce [the distance one] travels, because it is forbidden to enter [these buildings] except for a mitzvah.
A person who has to enter a synagogue to call a child or his friend should enter and read [a portion of the written law] or relate a teaching [of the oral law] and then call his friend, so that he will not have entered [a synagogue] for his personal reasons alone.
If he does not know [how to study], he should ask one of the children [to] tell him the verse he is studying or, [at the very least,] wait a while in the synagogue and then leave, since spending time [in the synagogue] is one of the aspects of the mitzvah as implied by [Psalms 84:5]: "Happy are those who dwell in Your house."
A person who enters [a synagogue] to pray or to study is permitted to leave by the opposite door to shorten his way.
A person is permitted to enter a synagogue [holding] his staff, [wearing] his shoes, wearing [only] lower garments, or with dust on his feet. If it is necessary for him to spit, he may spit in the synagogue.
Synagogues and houses of study that have been destroyed remain holy [as can be inferred from Leviticus 26:31]: "I will destroy your sanctuaries." [Our Sages explained]: Even though they are destroyed, they remain holy.
Just as one must treat them with respect while they are standing, so must they be treated [with respect] when they are destroyed with the exception of sweeping and mopping them. [When destroyed], they need not be swept or mopped.
If grass grows in them, it should be pulled out and left there so that it will be seen by the people [in the hope that] it will rouse their spirits and rebuild them.
One should not tear down a synagogue in order to build another in its place or in another place. Instead, one should build the [new synagogue] and then, one [may] tear down the [previous] one lest unforeseen difficulties arise [which prevent it] from being built.
This applies even to a single wall of [a synagogue]. One should build the new wall next to the old wall and then, tear down the old wall.
When does the above apply? When its foundations are not ruined or its walls are not leaning perilously. However, if its foundation is destroyed or its walls are leaning perilously, it should be destroyed immediately and [then, efforts to] rebuild it should be begun immediately throughout the day and night lest times become difficult and it remain destroyed.
It is permitted to transform a synagogue into a house of study. However, it is forbidden to transform a house of study into a synagogue because the sanctity of a house of study exceeds that of a synagogue and one must proceed to a higher rung of holiness, but not descend to a lower rung.
Similarly, the inhabitants of a city who sold a synagogue may purchase an ark with the proceeds. If they sold an ark, they may purchase a mantle or a case for a Torah scroll with the proceeds. If they sold a mantle or a case, they may buy chumashim with the proceeds. If they sold chumashim, they may buy a Torah scroll with the proceeds. If they sold a Torah scroll, the proceeds may only be used to purchase another Torah scroll, for there is no level of holiness above that of a Torah scroll.
The same [laws apply] to [any money] which remains.
Similar [principles apply] if a congregation collected money to build a house of study or a synagogue or to purchase an ark, a mantle or a case [for a Torah scroll], or a Torah scroll, and desired to change [the purpose for which] all the [funds] had been [originally] collected.
It is forbidden to change [the purpose for which the funds will be used] except from a matter of lesser sanctity to one of greater sanctity. However, if [the congregation] accomplished the purpose for which they had [originally] collected [the funds], they may use the remainder for whatever they desire.
All the components of a synagogue are considered like the synagogue itself. The curtain hanging before the ark is considered like the mantle of a Torah scroll. If a condition was made concerning them, the terms of the condition are binding.
When do the above statements permitting the sale of a synagogue apply? In regard to a synagogue in a village. Since it was constructed for the sake of the inhabitants of that village alone, so that they can pray inside it, they are permitted to sell it if they all desire to do so.
In contrast, a synagogue in a metropolis, since it was constructed for the sake of all the people in the world, [i.e.,] so that anyone who comes to that country can come and pray in it, it is considered as [the property] of [the entire] Jewish people and it can never be sold.
The inhabitants of a village who desire to sell their synagogue in order to build another synagogue with the money, or to buy an ark or Torah scroll with the money, must establish as a condition [of the sale] that the purchaser not use the building for a bathhouse, a leatherworks, a mikveh, or a laundry.
If, at the time of the sale, the seven officials of the community made a condition in the presence of the entire community that the purchaser be allowed to use the building for the above purposes, he may.
Similarly, if the seven officials of the community made a condition in the presence of the entire community that [after the community accomplished the purpose for which they sold the synagogue], the remainder of the funds could be used for mundane purposes, they may be used for such purposes. Thus, after the money has been used for building another synagogue, for purchasing an ark, a mantle or case [for a Torah scroll], chumashim, or a Torah scroll, the remainder may be used for mundane purposes in accordance with their condition, and may be used for whatever they please.
Similarly, if all the inhabitants of a city - or a majority of them - accept [the authority of] a single individual, whatever actions he takes [in regard to a synagogue] are binding. He may sell [the synagogue] or give [it as a gift] alone, as he sees fit, and establish whatever conditions he desires.
Just as it is permitted to sell a synagogue, it is permitted to give it away as a present. If the community had not received any benefit from giving it as a gift, it would not have given it. However, it cannot be rented or given as security.
Similarly, when a synagogue is being torn down so that it can be rebuilt, it is permitted to sell the bricks, timber, and soil, exchange them, or give them as gifts. However, it is forbidden to lend them, since their sanctity only departs in return for money or benefit which is equivalent to money.
Although the people pray in a city's main street on fast days and ma'amadot, because too many people gather to fit within a synagogue, [the street] does not possess any quality of sanctity, because [praying there is only a temporary measure] and it is not established as a place of prayer.
Similarly, buildings and courtyards where people gather to pray do not possess any measure of sanctity, because they were not designated for prayer alone. Rather, [people] pray within them as a temporary measure, as a person prays within his home.
Tefilah and Birkat Kohanim - Chapter Twelve
Moses, our teacher, ordained that the Jews should read the Torah publicly on the Sabbath and on Monday and Thursday mornings, so the [people] would never have three days pass without hearing the Torah.
Ezra ordained that [the Torah] should be read during the Minchah service on the Sabbath, because of the shopkeepers. He also ordained that on Mondays and Thursdays, three people should read [from the Torah], and that they should read no fewer than ten verses.
These are the days when the Torah is read publicly: Sabbaths, festivals, Rashei Chadashim, fast days, Chanukah, Purim, and Mondays and Thursdays each week.
The haftarah is read only on Sabbaths, festivals, and Tish'ah B'Av.
The Torah is never read in public in the presence of fewer than ten adult free men. No fewer than ten verses are read. Vayedaber is counted as one of them. No fewer than three men should read.
[When] beginning a passage from the Torah, [one should read] at least three verses, and one should not conclude less than three verses from the conclusion of a passage. Each reader should not read fewer than three verses.
[When] three people read ten verses: Two read three [verses each] and one, four [verses]. It is praiseworthy regardless of whether the one who read four [verses] is first, last, or in the middle.
Each one of the readers opens the Torah scroll and looks at the place from which he is to read. Afterwards, he declares, Barchu et Ado-nai hamevorach, and all the people answer: Baruch Ado-nai hamevorach le'olam va'ed. He then recites the blessing:
Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has chosen us from among all the nations and given us His Torah. Blessed are You, God, the Giver of the Torah.
All the people respond: "Amen." Afterwards, he reads until he completes the reading, rolls the scroll [closed] and recites the blessing:
Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has given us His Torah, the Torah of truth, and implanted eternal life in our midst. Blessed are You, God, the Giver of the Torah.
The person reading the Torah is not allowed to begin reading until the congregation ceases responding "Amen." If one erred while reading, even regarding the careful pronunciation of one letter, [the reader] is forced to repeat [the reading] until he reads it correctly.
Two people should not read at the same time. Rather, one should read alone. If one was reading and lost the ability to speak, another should replace him. He should begin from the place where the one who lost the ability to speak began, and recite the blessing after concluding.
The reader is not permitted to [begin] reading until the person of greatest stature within the community tells him to [begin] reading. Even the chazan or the gabbai should not begin reading on their own initiative until the community [as a whole] or the person of greatest stature begins to read.
[When the chazan reads from the Torah,] another person should stand with him while he reads, just as the chazan stands together with the other readers.
The reader may skip from place to place in one subject - for example, from Acharei mot... to Ach be'asor, in the portion Emor el Hacohanim - provided he does not read by heart. It is forbidden [for a reader] to say even one word [without looking at the text]. [When] skipping [in this fashion, the reader] should not wait longer than it takes for the translator to translate one verse.
Once the reader begins reading the Torah, it is forbidden [for the congregants] to talk, even regarding matters of Torah law. Rather, everyone should listen, remain silent, and pay attention to what is being read, as [Nechemiah 8:3] states: "The ears of all the people were [attentive] to the Torah scroll."
It is forbidden to leave the synagogue while the reader is reading from the Torah. However, one is permitted to leave between aliyot. A person who is constantly involved in Torah study, and Torah is his occupation, is permitted to involve himself in Torah study while the Torah is being read.
From the time of Ezra, it was customary that a translator would translate to the people the [passages] read by the reader from the Torah, so that they would understand the subject matter.
The reader should read one verse alone and remain silent while the translator translates it. Afterwards, he should read a second verse. The reader is not permitted to read to the translator more than one verse [at a time].
The reader is not permitted to raise his voice above that of the translator, nor should the translator raise his voice above that of the reader. The translator is not permitted to [begin] translating until the reader completes reading the verse, nor may the reader [begin] reading another verse until the translator has completed the translation.
The translator should not lean on a beam or on a pillar. Rather, he should stand with awe and fear. He should not translate from a written text, but rather should recite the translation by heart.
The reader is not permitted to assist the translator, lest people say: "The translation is written in the Torah scroll." A person of lesser stature may serve as a translator for a person of greater stature. However, it is not befitting the honor of a person of greater stature to serve as a translator for a person of lesser stature. Two people should not serve as translators simultaneously; rather, one person should read and one should translate.
Not all passages from the Torah are translated in public. All [of the following passages] should be read, but not translated: the incident involving Reuven, the priestly benediction, [the passage describing the sin] of the golden calf from "And Moses told Aharon" (Exodus 32:21) until "And Moses saw the people" (Exodus 32:25) and one other verse, "And God set a plague upon the people" (Exodus 32:35).
In the [description of] the incident concerning Amnon (II Samuel, Chapter 13), the verse which states, "Amnon, the son of David" (13:1) should be neither read nor translated.
The person who reads the haftarah must read from the Torah first. Even three verses [are sufficient]. He should read again the passage that had been read previously.
He should not [begin] reading the haftarah until the Torah scroll has been rolled closed. He should not read fewer than twenty-one verses [as the haftarah]. However, if a concept is completed in fewer [verses] than that, he need not add more. If he read only ten verses, but the haftarah is translated, it is sufficient even if the concept is not completed.
[When reading] from the prophets, one reads and even two may translate. One may skip from one concept to another. However, one should not skip from one prophet to another, except among the twelve prophets. Furthermore, [even within a book from a single prophet,] one should not skip from the conclusion of the book until its beginning. Whenever one skips, one should not wait longer than it takes the translator to complete his translation.
A person reading from the prophets may read three verses to the translator at one time, and the translator translates them one after another. If the three verses are three separate passages, [the reader] should read them to the translator only one at a time.
The person who reads the haftarah recites one blessing before [beginning his reading]: Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who chose prophets....
After [completing the reading], he recites four blessings. He concludes the first blessing: "the God who is faithful in all of His words." He concludes the second blessing: "who builds Jerusalem." He concludes the third blessing: "the Shield of David." He concludes the fourth blessing with the mention of the sacred aspect of the day, as he does in the Shemoneh Esreh. Similarly, if Rosh Chodesh falls on the Sabbath, the one who reads the haftarah mentions Rosh Chodesh in this blessing, as he does in the Shemoneh Esreh.
How many readers [are called to the Torah]? On Sabbath morning, seven; on Yom Kippur, six; on festivals, five. This number may not be reduced. However, it may be increased.
On Rashei Chadashim and on Chol Hamo'ed, four people [are called to read [from the Torah]. On the Sabbath and Yom Kippur during the Minchah service, on Mondays and Thursdays throughout the entire year, on Chanukah and Purim in the morning service, and on fast days in the morning and Minchah services three people [are called to] read [from the Torah]. This number may not be reduced, nor may it may be increased.
A woman should not read the Torah publicly, as a token of respect for the community. A minor who knows how to read and is aware of the One who is being blessed may be counted as one of the required number [of people called to the Torah].
Similarly, the one who recites the haftarah is counted as one of the required number [of people called to the Torah], because he also reads from the Torah. [However,] if the leader of the congregation interrupted [by reciting] Kaddish between the conclusion of the Torah reading and the reading of the person who recites the haftarah, [the latter] is not included as one of the required number [of people called to the Torah].
If there is only one person in the community who knows how to read [from the Torah], he should be called to the Torah, read, descend [from the platform], return and read again a second and a third time until he completes the number of aliyot designated for that day.
In all of these [Torah] readings, a priest reads first; after him, a Levite; and after him, an Israelite. It is common custom at present that even a priest who is a common person is given precedence and allowed to read before a wise man of great stature in Israel.
Whoever is greater than his colleague in wisdom is given precedence regarding the reading [of the Torah]. The last person who rolls the Torah scroll closed receives a reward equivalent to that of all the others. Therefore, even the person of the greatest stature in the community can receive the concluding aliyah.
When there are no priests present, an Israelite is called to the Torah and a Levite should not be called after him at all.
When there are no Levites present, the priest who received the first aliyah returns and reads [from the Torah] a second time in place of the Levite. Another priest should not read [from the Torah] after him, lest others say that there is a blemish in the first's lineage, and, therefore, another priest was given the aliyah.
Similarly, one Levite should not read [from the Torah] after another Levite, lest others say that there is a blemish in the lineage of one of them.
What is the order [of the service] when the Torah is read after prayer? On a day when there is a Musaf service, after the leader of the congregation completes the morning service, he recites Kaddish and takes out the Torah scroll. He calls the members of the community, one by one, and they ascend and read from the Torah. When they have completed the reading, he returns the Torah scroll to its place, recites Kaddish, and then the [congregation] recites the Musaf service.
On days when the haftarah is read and there is a Musaf service, it is customary to recite Kaddish before the person who reads the haftarah ascends [for his aliyah]. There are places where it is customary to recite Kaddish after the person who reads the haftarah [completes his Torah reading].
During the Minchah service on the Sabbath and on Yom Kippur, after the leader of the congregation completes Tehillah l'David and the order of Kedushah, he recites the Kaddish, and takes out a Torah scroll. [Those called to the Torah] ascend and read and then, [the Torah scroll] is returned [to its place. The leader of the congregation] recites Kaddish, and the [congregation] recites the Minchah service.
Similarly, on a fast day, the Torah is read [before] the Minchah service. Afterwards, Kaddish is recited, and the Minchah service is recited. On festivals, it is not customary to read [the Torah] in the Minchah service.
[When the Torah is read on] a day when Musaf is not recited, after the morning Shemoneh Esreh is completed, [the leader of the congregation] recites the Kaddish and takes out a Torah scroll. [After the portion is] read from it, [the Torah scroll] is returned [to its place. The leader of the congregation] recites Tehillah l'David and the order of Kedushah, as is the practice every day. [Afterwards,] he recites the Kaddish and the people depart.
It is not proper to read from chumashim in synagogues, as a token of respect for the community.
A Torah scroll should not be rolled [from one portion to another portion] in the presence of the community, because of the difficulty it would cause the people, forcing them to remain standing while the Torah scroll is being rolled. Therefore, if it is necessary to read two separate concepts, two Torah scrolls are taken out. [However,] one person should not read one concept from two Torah scrolls, lest people say that the first scroll was invalid and, therefore, they read from the second.
When a person rolls a Torah scroll [closed], he should roll it from the outside. When he ties it, he should tie it from the inside. He should leave the stitching [in the center], so that it will not rip.
In a place where a Torah scroll is taken [from the synagogue] to another room where it is kept, the congregation is not allowed to leave until the Torah scroll is taken. They should accompany it, following it to the place where it is kept.
Tefilah and Birkat Kohanim - Chapter Thirteen
The common custom throughout all Israel is to complete the [reading of] the Torah in one year. [The cycle] is begun on the Sabbath after the Sukkot festival, reading the sidrah, Bereshit. On the following Sabbath, [the sidrah,] Eleh toldot [is read]; on the third, [the sidrah,] Vayomer Ado-nai el Avram. We continue reading according to this order until the Torah is completed, during the Sukkot festival.
There are those who finish the Torah reading in a three-year cycle. However, this is not a widely accepted custom.
Ezra instituted the practice of having the Jews read the "curses" found in the Book of Leviticus before Shavuot, and those found in the Book of Deuteronomy before Rosh HaShanah.
It is common custom to read [the sidrah,] Bemidbar Sinai before Shavuot, [the sidrah,] Va'etchanan after Tish'ah B'Av, [the sidrah,] Attem nitzavim before Rosh HaShanah, and [the sidrah,] Tzav et Aharon before Pesach in an ordinary year.
Therefore, there are Sabbaths on which two sedarim are read: for example, [the sidrah,] Ishah ki tazria and [the sidrah,] Vezot tih'yeh torat hametzora [are often combined. Similarly, the sidrah,] Im bechukotai [is often combined] with [the sidrah,] Behar Sinai, so that [the reading of the Torah] will be completed in a year, and the sedarim will be read at the appropriate times.
At the point [in the Torah] where the Sabbath morning [reading] was completed, the reading [is begun] on the Sabbath afternoon, on Monday, on Thursday, and on the following Sabbath.
What is implied? On the first Sabbath, we read [the sidrah,] Bereshit in the morning. In the afternoon, ten or more verses from [the sidrah,] Eleh toldot Noach are read. The same practice [is followed] on Monday and Thursday. On the coming Sabbath, we begin from Eleh toldot Noach, and read until the conclusion of the sidrah. This pattern is followed throughout the year.
On each Sabbath, a haftarah is recited that reflects the Torah reading.
On Rosh Chodesh, the first reader reads three verses from the passage (Numbers 28:1-15) Tzav. The second reader reads the third verse which was read by the first reader, and the following two verses, so that three verses will remain in the passage. The third reader reads the three verses that were left [unread] by the second reader, and the passage "And on the Sabbath day...." The fourth reader reads [the passage] "And on your new months...."
If Rosh Chodesh falls on the Sabbath, two Torah scrolls are taken out in the morning. The sidrah of that particular Sabbath is read from one, and the person who concludes the reading reads [the passage] "And on your new months...."
The person who reads the haftarah reads the passage concerning Rosh Chodesh, and then reads [the passage (Isaiah 66:1-24) that concludes:] "And it will be from month to month..." as the haftarah.
If Rosh Chodesh Av falls on the Sabbath [the passage, Isaiah 1:14-31, beginning:] "My soul hates your new moons and your festivals" is read as the haftarah.
If Rosh Chodesh falls on Sunday, on the preceding Sabbath [the passage (I Samuel 20:18-42), beginning:] "And Jonathan told him: 'Tomorrow is the new month...'” is read as the haftarah.
Whoever is called to read from the Torah should begin [his reading] with a positive matter and conclude with a positive matter.
However, in Parashat Ha'azinu, the first [person called to the Torah] reads until Z'chor y'mot olam (Deuteronomy 32:7). The second begins from Z'chor y'mot olam [and continues] until Yarkivehu (ibid.:13). The third [reads] from Yarkivehu until Vayar Ado-nai vayin'atz (ibid.:19). The fourth [reads] from Vayar Ado-nai vayin'atz until Lu chachmu (ibid.:29). The fifth [reads] from Lu chachmu until Ki essa el shamayim yadi (ibid.:40). The sixth [reads] from Ki essa el shamayim yadi until the conclusion of the song (ibid.:43).
Why is the Torah reading ceased at these points? Because these are [verses of] rebuke, [and the intent is that] that they motivate the people to repent.
The eight verses at the conclusion of the Torah may be read in a synagogue when fewer than ten people are present. They are indeed all Torah and were related by Moses from the Almighty. However, since, on the surface, they appear to have been recited after Moses' death, the [rules governing them] are different. Therefore, it is permissible for an individual to read them.
The "curses" in Leviticus should not be interrupted. Rather, a single person should read them [in their entirety]. He should begin with the verse preceding them and conclude with the verse following them.
The "curses" in Deuteronomy may be interrupted if one desires. However, the people have already adopted the custom of not interrupting [this reading]. Rather, a single person reads them [in their entirety].
[The cycle of Torah readings] is interrupted for the festivals and Yom Kippur. [On these occasions,] we read [a passage that] concerns the festival and not the sidrah of [that] Sabbath.
Moses instituted [the practice that], on each festival, the Jews should read [a passage] appropriate to it. Also, it [is proper] on each festival to ask about and explain the subjects [pertinent] to that festival.
Which [passages] are read? On Pesach, [we read] the passage concerning the festivals in Leviticus (23:4-44). [However,] the people have already adopted the custom of reading Mishchu uk'chu lachem (Exodus 12:21-51) on the first day. The haftarah is [the description] of the Pesach celebrated in Gilgal (Joshua 5:2-15).
On the second day, we read Shor o kesev (Leviticus 22:26-23:44). The haftarah is [the description] of the Pesach celebrated by Josaiah (II Kings 1-9, 21-25). On the third day, we read Kadesh li kol b'chor (Exodus 13:1-16); on the fourth day, Im kessef talveh (Exodus 22:24-23:19); on the fifth day, P'sol lecha (Exodus 34:1-26); on the sixth day, Vaya'asu Bnei Yisrael et hapesach b'mo'ado (Numbers 9:1-14).
On the final festival, [we read] from Vay'hi beshalach until the conclusion of the song [sung at Red Sea] until [the verse,] Ani Ado-nai rof'echa (Exodus 13:17-15:26). The haftarah is Vayedaber David (II Samuel 22:1-51).
On the eighth day, [we read], Kol hab'chor (Deuteronomy 15:19-16:17). The haftarah is Od hayom (Isaiah 10:32-4, 11:1-16, 12:1-6).
On Shavuot, we read [the passage, containing the reading] Shiv'ah shavuot (Deuteronomy 16:9). However, it is common custom to read [the passage,] Bachodesh hash'lishi (Exodus 19:1-20:23) on the first day of the festival. [The vision of God's] chariot (Ezekiel 1:1-28) is read as the haftarah.
On the second day, the passage describing the festivals, Kol hab'chor (Deuteronomy 15:19-16:17) is read, and [a passage from] Chabbakuk (3:1-19) is read as the haftarah.
On Rosh HaShanah, we read [the passage including the verse]: Uvachodesh hash'vi'i b'echad lachodesh (Numbers 29:1). However, it is common custom to read [the passage,] VAdo-nai pakad et Sarah (Genesis 21:1-33). [The passage,] Vay'hi ish echad min haramatayim (I Samuel 1:1-2:10) is read as the haftarah.
On the second day, [the passage,] V'HaElo-him nisah et Avraham (Genesis 22:1-24) is read, and [the passage including the verse] Haven yakir li Efrayim (Jeremiah 31:1-19) is read as the haftarah.
On Yom Kippur, in the morning, we read [the passage,] Acharei mot (Leviticus 16:1-34) and read [the passage,] Ki koh amar ram v'nisa (Isaiah 57:14-58:14) as the haftarah.
In the afternoon, [we read the passage] in Acharei mot that is concerned with forbidden sexual relations, in order that anyone who has violated one of these sins will remember, become embarrassed, and repent. The third person [who] reads from the Torah recites [the Book of] Yonah as the haftarah.
On Sukkot, on the first two days, we read the passage that concerns the festivals: Shor o kesev o eyz (Leviticus 22:26-23:44). The haftarah read on the first day is [the passage,] Hiney yom ba l'Ado-nai (Zechariah 14). On the second day, [the haftarah is the passage,] Vayikahalu el hamelech Shlomo (I Kings 8:2-21).
On the final day of the festival, we read [the passage,] Kol hab'chor (Deuteronomy 15:19-16:17). For the haftarah, we read [the passage,] Vay'hi k'chalot Shlomo (I Kings 8:54-66).
On the following day, we read [the sidrah,] Vezot haberachah (Deuteronomy 33-34). For the haftarah, we read [the passage,] Vaya'amod Shlomo (I Kings 8:22-53). There are those who read [the passage,] Vay'hi acharei mot Moshe (Joshua 1) as the haftarah.
On the other days of Sukkot, we read [the passages that describe] the sacrifices [offered] on the festival.
What is implied? On each of the days of Chol Hamo'ed, we read two passages. [For example,] on the third day [of the festival], which is [the first day of] Chol Hamo'ed, the priest reads [the passage,] Uvayom hasheni. The Levite reads [the passage,] Uvayom hash'lishi. The Israelite repeats [the passage,] Uvayom hash'lishi, and the person called for the fourthaliyah repeats [both passages:] Uvayom hasheni and Uvayom hash'lishi.
Similarly, on the fourth day [of the festival], which is the second day of Chol Hamo'ed, we read the passages Uvayom hash'lishi and Uvayom harevi'i. The same pattern is followed on all the [other] days.
In the morning [service] on each and every one of the festivals, on Yom Kippur, and during the seven days of Pesach, two [Torah] scrolls are taken out. We read the passages mentioned above from the first scroll, and from the second scroll we read the description of the sacrifices [offered on] that day, in the Book of Numbers. The person who reads the description of the sacrifices recites the haftarah from the prophets.
On any day when two or three [Torah] scrolls are taken out: if they are taken out one after the other, when the first scroll is returned, Kaddish is recited and the second scroll is taken out. When the second scroll is returned, Kaddish is also recited.
We have mentioned above that the common custom is to recite Kaddish after the reader concludes the reading at all times, and then to recite the haftarah from the prophets.
When the Sabbath falls during Chol Hamo'ed - whether during Pesach or during Sukkot - [the passage,] R'ey Attah omer elai (Exodus 33:12-34:26) is read on that Sabbath. On Pesach, [the passage describing Ezekiel's vision of] the dry bones (Chapter 37) is read as the haftarah. When [the Sabbath] falls in the midst of Sukkot, [the passage,] B'yom bo Gog (Ezekiel 38:18-39:16) is read as the haftarah.
On Chanukah, [the following passages are read:] On the first day, we read from the Priestly Blessing (Numbers 6:38-42) until the conclusion of the sacrifice offered on the first day (Numbers 7:17). On the second day, we read [the passage describing] the sacrifices of the Nasi who brought the offering on the second day. This practice is continued until the eighth day. On the eighth day, we read [the descriptions of] all the [remaining] sacrifices until the end of the portion.
On the Sabbath of Chanukah, the haftarah is Zechariah's [vision of the Menorah (2:14-4:7)]. If two Sabbaths are celebrated during Chanukah, on the first Sabbath, Zechariah's [vision of the Menorah] is read as the haftarah; on the second, [the description of] Solomon's [Menorah is read as the haftarah (I Kings 7:40-50)]. The one who reads the [passage designated for] Chanukah is the one who recites the haftarah from the prophets.
On Purim, [the passage,] Vayavo Amalek (Exodus 17:8-16) [is read].
On Tish'ah B'Av, in the morning, [the passage,] Ki tolid banim (Deuteronomy 4:25-40) is read, and [the passage,] Asof asifem, n'um Ado-nai (Jeremiah 8:13-9:23) is read as the haftarah. During the Minchah service, we read [the passage,] Vay'chal Moshe (Exodus 32:11-14, 34:1-10), as on other fast days.
On the other days when we fast [to commemorate the bitter events] that occurred to our ancestors, we read the [above-mentioned passage,] in the morning and Minchah services [in the following manner]: The first person called to the Torah reads four verses, [beginning] Vay'chal Moshe. The second and the third read from P'sol lecha until asher ani oseh imach.
On the fasts that are declared by the community because of difficulties like famine or plague, we read blessings and curses, so that the people will repent and humble their hearts when they hear them.
It is customary on the three Sabbaths before Tish'ah B'Av to read haftarot of rebuke. On the first Sabbath, we read [the passage,] Divrei Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah 1:1-2:3) as the haftarah. On the second [Sabbath], we read [the passage,] Chazon Yishayahu (Isaiah 1:1-27). On the third [Sabbath], we read [the passage,] Eichah hay'ta l'zonah (Isaiah 1:21).
Similarly, on the Sabbath after Tish'ah B'Av we read [the passage Nachamu, nachamu, ami (Isaiah 40:1-26) as the haftarah. It is the common custom in our cities to read the comforting prophecies of Isaiah as the haftarot from Tish'ah B'Av until Rosh HaShanah.
On the Sabbath between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, we read [the passage,] Shuvah Yisrael as the haftarah.
When Rosh Chodesh Adar falls on the Sabbath, we read Parashat Shekalim (Exodus 30:11-16), and read as the haftarah [the passage concerning] Yehoyada, the priest (II Kings 11:17-20, 12:1-17). If Rosh Chodesh Adar falls in the middle of the week - even if it falls on Friday - Parashat Shekalim is read on the previous Sabbath.
On the "second Sabbath," we read Parashat Zachor (Deuteronomy 25:17-19), and read as the haftarah, [the passage,] Pakad'ti et asher asah Amalek (I Samuel 15:1-34). What is meant by the "second Sabbath"? The Sabbath before the week in which Purim falls - even if Purim falls on Friday.
On the "third Sabbath," we read [the passage describing] "the red heifer" (Numbers 19:1-22), and read as the haftarah [the passage,] V'zarakti aleichem (Ezekiel 36:16-38). Which is the "third Sabbath"? The one preceding the fourth.
On the fourth Sabbath, we read [the passage,] Hachodesh hazeh lachem (Exodus 12:1-20), and read as the haftarah [the passage,] Barishon b'echad lachodesh (Ezekiel 45:16-25, 46:1-18). Which is the "fourth Sabbath"? The Sabbath of the week when Rosh Chodesh Nisan falls - even if it falls on Friday.
Thus, there will be times when there is an interruption between the first [of these] Sabbaths and the second, or between the second and the third. At times, there will be two interruptions - between the first and the second and between the second and third. However, an interruption is never made between the third and fourth [Sabbaths].
Each one of these four passages should be read from another Torah scroll, after reading the sidrah of that Sabbath from the scroll that was taken out first.
If Rosh Chodesh Adar fell on the Sabbath and the sidrah to be read that week was V'attah tetzaveh, six people read from V'attah tetzaveh until V'asita kiyor nechoshet.The seventh person reads from the second scroll and repeats the reading of Ki tissa until V'asita kiyor nechoshet.
If the sidrah to be read that week was Ki tissa itself, six people read from Ki tissa until Vayakhel. The seventh person reads from the second scroll and repeats the reading of Ki tissa until V'asita kiyor nechoshet.
[When] Rosh Chodesh Adar falls on the Sabbath, three Torah scrolls are taken out. The sidrah of the day is read from the first scroll. The passage concerning Rosh Chodesh is read from the second scroll, and Ki tissa is read from the third scroll. Similarly, [when] Rosh Chodesh Nisan falls on the Sabbath, three Torah scrolls are taken out. The sidrah of the day is read from the first scroll, the passage concerning Rosh Chodesh is read from the second scroll, and Hachodesh hazeh is read from the third scroll.
[Similarly, when] Rosh Chodesh Tevet falls on the Sabbath, three Torah scrolls are taken out. The sidrah of the day is read from the first scroll. The passage concerning Rosh Chodesh is read from the second scroll, and the passage for Chanukah is read from the third scroll.
[When Rosh Chodesh Tevet] falls during the middle of the week, three people read from the passage concerning Rosh Chodesh, and the fourth person reads the passage for Chanukah.
Although a person hears the entire Torah [portion] each Sabbath [when it is read] communally, he is obligated to study on his own each week the sidrah of that week, reading it twice in the original and once in the Aramaic translation. [When] there is no Aramaic translation for a verse, one should read the verse three times in the original, so that one completes [the study of] one's [Torah] portions with the community.
Published and copyright by Moznaim Publications, all rights reserved.
To purchase this book or the entire series, please click here
The text on this page contains sacred literature. Please do not deface or discard.
Master of the Universe! The sages of the Talmud pleaded before You to bring the Moshiach, but You chose not to do so. The holy Kabbalists of Safed begged You to bring Moshiach -- again You were unwilling. We have reached the point where it is left to someone of my ilk to ask for the Redeemer. Still You are holding out.... Mark my words! There will come a generation who will have no interest in You or Your Moshiach. Then You will have no choice but to bring him..
–Chassidic master Rabbi Leib, the "Grandfather of Shpoli" (1725-1811)