1

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.

א

משה רבינו תיקן להם לישראל שיהו קורין בתורה ברבים בשבת ובשני ובחמישי בשחרית כדי שלא ישהו שלשה ימים בלא שמיעת תורה ועזרא תיקן שיהו קורין כן במנחה בכל שבת משום יושבי קרנות וגם הוא תיקן שיהו קורין בשני ובחמישי שלשה בני אדם ולא יקראו פחות מעשרה פסוקים:

Moses, our teacher, ordained that the Jews should read the Torah publicly on the Sabbath - See also Chapter 13, Halachah 8.

and on Monday and Thursday - Tosafot, Bava Kama 82a relates that these days are days of Divine favor.

mornings - The Mishnah Berurah 135:1 states that, although ideally the Torah should be read in the morning service, if one fails to do so, it may be read the entire day.

so the [people] would never have three days pass without hearing the Torah. - Bava Kama 82b quotes Exodus 15:22: "And they travelled three days without finding water," and explains:

Water refers to the Torah, as [implied by Isaiah 55:1]: "May all the thirsty go to the water." Since they travelled three days without Torah, they complained. The prophets among them arose and ordained that they read [Torah] on the Sabbath, refrain [from reading] on Sunday, read on Monday, refrain [from reading] on Tuesday and Wednesday, read on Thursday, and refrain from reading on Friday, so that they will not spend three days without [reading from] the Torah.

Ezra ordained that [the Torah] should be read during the Minchah service on the Sabbath, because of the shopkeepers. - The Hebrew, יושבי קרנות, literally means "those who sit on the street corners." Our translation is based on Rashi's commentary (Bava Kama, loc. cit.). He explains that during the week, these people were involved with their businesses and could not attend the Torah reading. Therefore, Ezra instituted a special Torah reading for them on the Sabbath, when work is prohibited.

Rav David Arameah interprets the phrase literally, explaining that on the Sabbath, since work is prohibited, people would gather in the afternoon in the marketplace, and spend their time in idle conversation. Therefore, Ezra ordained the public Torah reading to draw them into the synagogue.

He also ordained that on Mondays and Thursdays, three - Megillah 21b relates that the number three reflects the three divisions among the Jewish people: priests, Levites, and Israelites; alternatively, the three divisions in the Written Law (the Torah, Prophets, and Holy Writings).

people should read - In Talmudic times, the person called to the Torah would read from the Torah himself. Our custom of having one reader is discussed in the commentary on Halachah 17.

[from the Torah] - Bava Kama (loc. cit.) explains that originally either one person would read three verses, or three people would read three verses.

and that they should read no fewer than ten verses. - Megillah (loc. cit.) states that the ten verses allude to the ten commandments and the ten utterances of creation; alternatively, they represent the ten people who attend a synagogue at all times. (See Halachah 3.)

2

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.

ב

ואלו הן הימים שקורין בהם בתורה בציבור בשבתות ובמועדים ובראשי חדשים ובתעניות ובחנוכה ובפורים ובשני וחמישי שבכל שבוע ושבוע ואין מפטירין בנביאים אלא בשבתות וימים טובים ותשעה באב בלבד:


These are the days when the Torah is read publicly: Sabbaths, festivals - including Chol Hamo'ed, the intermediate days of the festival. (See Chapter 13, Halachot 8-16.)

Rashei Chadashim - Soferim 10:1 attributes the introduction of the practice of reading the Torah on all the abovementioned days to Moses. (See Chapter 13, Halachah 4, regarding the Rosh Chodesh Torah reading.)

fast days - See Chapter 13, Halachah 18.

Chanukah, Purim - See Chapter 13, Halachah 17.

and Mondays and Thursdays each week.

The haftarah - The Pardes states that the reading of the haftarah was instituted on the days when work is forbidden because the people had more time then and were able to devote themselves to Torah study. The Avudraham relates that the reading of the haftarah was instituted when the Greeks forbade the public reading of the Torah. To compensate, the Jews instituted the reading of parallel portions from the prophets. Even after the decree was nullified, the custom remained.

is read only - In Hilchot Ta'aniot 1:17, the Rambam states that on fast days declared because of communal distress, the haftarah is read in the afternoon service. However, the Beit Yosef (Orach Chayim 574) explains that the laws concerning the reading of the Torah and the haftarah are discussed primarily in this and the following chapter of the Mishneh Torah. Hence, the decision here should be followed and the haftarah should not be recited.

on Sabbaths, festivals - when work is not permitted

and Tish'ah B'Av. - Although work is permitted on Tish'ah B'Av, as mentioned in Hilchot Ta'aniot 5:10, Torah Sages have accepted the custom not to work on that day, and our Sages declared that no one will see a sign of blessing from work done on that day. Hence, there is no difficulty in reading the haftarah in the morning. (See Chapter 13, Halachah 18.)

In Ashkenazic communities, it is also customary to read the haftarah on fast days in the Minchah service (Ramah, Orach Chayim 566:1).

3

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.

ג

אין קורין בתורה בציבור בפחות מעשרה אנשים גדולים בני חורין ואין קורין פחות מעשרה פסוקים וידבר עולה מן המנין ולא יהיו הקורין פחות משלשה אנשים ואין מתחילין בפרשה פחות משלשה פסוקים ואין משיירין בפרשה פחות משלשה פסוקים ולא יקרא הקורא פחות משלשה פסוקים:

The Torah is never read in public in the presence of fewer then ten adult free men. - See Chapter 8, Halachot 4-6.

No fewer than ten verses are read. - See Halachah 1. Hagahot Maimoniot notes that the reading for Purim contains only nine verses, but explains that since this passage discusses a complete subject, an exception is made. (See also Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 137:1.)

Vayedaber - i.e., a verse beginning "And God said to Moses:...." Although it is merely an introductory phrase, it...

is counted as one of them - i.e., one of the required ten verses. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 137:4) states that, after the fact, if only nine verses were read, it is sufficient.

No fewer than three men should read. - See Halachah 1.

[When] beginning a passage - In addition to the 54 weekly Torah portions, the Torah is divided into 290 smaller passages (parshiot). (See Hilchot Sefer Torah, Chapter 8.)

from the Torah, [one should read] at least three verses - A person who begins a new passage in the midst of his aliyah should read at least three verses, lest another person enter when he begins that passage and think that he has read fewer than three verses (Megillah 22a).

The 14Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim, loc. cit.) states that if a person read only two verses, they must be read again.

and one should not conclude less than three verses from the conclusion of a passage - lest someone who leaves before the next person reads from the Torah come to the mistaken conclusion that he has read fewer than three verses (Megillah, loc. cit.). (See Chapter 13, Halachah 4. See also Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim, 138.)

Each reader should not read fewer than three verses. - The three verses allude to the threefold division of the written law (Megillah 24a). Even when an entire passage has only two verses, the reader must add at least three more verses from another passage.

From this halachah, it appears that the custom of reading the first aliyah of the portion to be read on the following Sabbath on Mondays and Thursdays was not fixed in the Rambam's time. Hence, these ground rules were necessary. (See Mishnah Berurah 137:4.)

4

[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.

ד

שלשה שקראו עשרה פסוקים שנים קוראין שלשה שלשה ואחד ארבעה ובין שהיה הקורא ארבעה ראשון או אחרון או אמצעי הרי זה משובח:

[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 - for the most important person is called to the Torah first (Megillah 21b).

last - based on the principle to "always proceed higher in holy matters" (loc. cit.).

or in the middle - regarding the Menorah, the middle branch was most important (loc. cit.).

5

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.

ה

כל אחד ואחד מן הקורין פותח ספר תורה ומביט למקום שהוא קורא בו ואח"כ אומר ברכו את יי' המבורך וכל העם עונין ברוך ה' המבורך לעולם ועד וחוזר ומברך ברוך אתה יי' אלהינו מלך העולם אשר בחר בנו מכל העמים ונתן לנו את תורתו ברוך אתה יי' נותן התורה וכל העם עונין אמן ואחר כך קורא עד שישלים לקרות וגולל הספר ומברך ברוך אתה יי' אלהינו מלך העולם אשר נתן לנו תורתו תורת אמת וחיי עולם נטע בתוכנו ברוך אתה יי' נותן התורה:

Each one of the readers opens the Torah scroll and looks at the place from which he is to read. - Megillah 32a mentions a difference of opinion between Rabbi Yehudah, who maintains that the blessings for the Torah should be recited while the Torah scroll is open (as quoted by the Rambam), and Rabbi Meir, who maintains that the Torah scroll should be closed, lest the people err and think that the blessings are written in the Torah.

Although the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 139:4) quotes the Rambam's decision, the Be'ur Halachah explains that Rabbi Yehudah maintains that one is not obligated to close the Torah scroll before reciting the blessing. However, there is nothing wrong in doing so. Therefore, in many communities the custom is to roll the Torah closed before reciting the blessing.

Note the Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit., 140:3) regarding the ruling when one looks at the wrong passage in the Torah before reciting the blessing.

Afterwards, he declares - The Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit., 139:6) emphasizes how Barchu and the blessings for the Torah should be recited in a loud voice.

Barchu et Ado-nai hamevorach, and all the people - the person reciting the blessing also joins in reciting the following phrase (Shulchan Aruch, loc. cit.:7)

answer: Baruch Ado-nai hamevorach le'olam va'ed. - See Chapter 9, Halachah 1.

He then recites the blessing: - Note the description of Ezra's reading of the Torah, in Nechemiah, Chapter 8, which relates how "Ezra opened the scroll... and blessed God."

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. - This is the third of the blessings of the Torah mentioned in Chapter 7, Halachah 10. Even someone who had just recited the blessings before the Torah as part of his individual prayers recites this blessing as a gesture of respect for the community.

As mentioned in the commentary on that halachah, the Ramban considers the obligation to recite the blessings before the Torah as one of the 613 mitzvot. Some later commentaries explain that this refers only to the blessings recited before reading the Torah in public.

All the people respond: "Amen." - Note Rashi's commentary, Berachot 21a. Note also the comments of the Hagahot Maimoniot, Chapter 7, Halachah 15, that a person can fulfill his requirement of reciting one hundred blessings on the Sabbath by answering "Amen" to these blessings.

Afterwards, he reads until he completes the reading, rolls the scroll [closed] - The Kessef Mishneh states that this is done in deference to Rabbi Meir's opinion mentioned above. The Lechem Yehudah explains that it is a gesture of respect for the Torah.

and recites the blessing: Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who has given us His Torah, the Torah of truth, - This is the text usually recited in Sephardic communities. In Ashkenazic communities, the word, תורתו (His Torah), is not included in the blessing. Interestingly, the Yemenite manuscripts of the Mishneh Torah also omit this word.

and implanted eternal life - Our translation follows the printed text of the Mishneh Torah. Note the Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit. 139:10), which follows the text - חיי העולם (adding a ה as a modifier) - "the life of the world (to come)."

in our midst. - It is proper to recite this phrase only once the Torah has been read. Only after it has been studied, does the Torah serve as a source of life (Avudraham).

Blessed are You, God, the Giver of the Torah.

6

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.

ו

אין הקורא בתורה רשאי לקרות בתורה עד שיכלה אמן מפי הציבור קרא וטעה אפילו בדקדוק אות אחת מחזירין אותו עד שיקראנה בדקדוק ולא יקראו שנים בתורה אלא האחד לבדו קרא ונשתתק יעמוד אחר תחתיו ויתחיל ממקום שהתחיל הראשון שנשתתק ומברך בסוף:

The person reading the Torah is not allowed to begin reading until the congregation ceases responding "Amen" - so that their recitation of "Amen" will not drown out the Torah reading. Today, in communities where the Torah is read by a person other than the one reciting the blessings, it is customary for the reader to prolong his recitation of "Amen" slightly, so that everyone will know when the Torah reading begins (Mishnah Berurah 141:17).

If one erred while reading, even regarding the careful pronunciation of one letter - Rabbenu Manoach explains that this law reflects a fundamental philosophical principle. Sanhedrin 99a states that anyone who says that even one letter of the Torah was not given by God is considered as "one who scorned the word of God." Therefore, every letter in the Torah must be pronounced correctly.

[the reader] is forced to repeat [the reading] until he reads it correctly. - This applies even if one has already read other verses or even recited the blessing over the verse which was read incorrectly (Mishnah Berurah 142:2).

Two people should not read at the same time. Rather, one should read alone - for the voice of two people cannot be heard at the same time. Note the Rambam's decision, Hilchot Shofar 3:6. See also a contrasting decision in Hilchot Megillah 2:7.

In communities where the Torah is read by a person other than the one who recites the blessings, the person reciting the blessings should be careful not to read out loud (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 141:2).

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 - In his responsa, the Rambam cites the Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 5:3) to explain why this law differs from the law mentioned in Chapter 10, Halachah 4, which states that if a chazan cannot continue the recitation of the Shemoneh Esreh, the person who replaces him begins from the point where he left off. The Rambam explains that it is necessary for the second person reading the Torah to repeat the verses, because otherwise, the verses read by the initial reader will not be included in the concluding blessing.

and recite the blessing after concluding. - Nevertheless, according to the Rambam, the second reader need not recite the blessing before the Torah reading. Rabbenu Asher (whose opinion is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch, loc. cit., 140:1) does not accept this decision, and requires the person who continues reading to recite the first blessing before he begins reading the Torah.

The difference between the two opinions is that the Rambam considers the blessings to be associated with the Torah portion and not with the reader. In contrast, Rabbenu Asher considers the blessings as the personal responsibility of the reader in preparation for reading from the Torah.

Rabbenu Asher's opinion is accepted by the later authorities. Even in communities where a person other than the one who recites the blessings reads from the Torah, this law applies (Ramah).

7

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.

ז

אין הקורא רשאי לקרות עד שיאמר לו גדול שבציבור לקרות ואפילו חזן הכנסת או ראש הכנסת אינו קורא מעצמו עד שיאמרו לו הציבור או גדול שבהם לקרות וצריך אחד לעמוד עמו בשעת קריאה כדרך חזן העומד עם הקוראין:

The reader is not permitted to [begin] reading until the person of greatest stature within the community - the Rabbi or spiritual leader.

tells him to [begin] reading. - Though this law is apparent from the Tosefta referred to below, no explicit source is mentioned by the commentaries.

Even the chazan or the gabbai - Our translation is based on Rashi's commentary (Yoma 68b), which describes the rosh hak'nesset as the one who appoints the leader of prayer and gives out the aliyot.

should not begin reading on their own initiative until the community [as a whole] or the person of greatest stature begins to read. - This law is quoted from the Tosefta, Megillah 3:21, which explains that this restriction was instituted to prevent the synagogue functionaries from taking advantage of their position, and thus create a rift between them and the other congregants.

[When the chazan reads from the Torah,] - As discussed in the commentary on Halachah 17, the Rambam requires the person who receives an aliyah to read from the Torah himself. Thus, the chazan would read only when he, himself, received an aliyah.

another person should stand with him while he reads, just as the chazan stands together with the other readers. - The Jerusalem Talmud (Megillah 4:1) explains the source for this practice. Just as an intermediary was involved with the giving of the Torah - as Deuteronomy 5:5 states: "I stood between you and God, your Lord" - so, too, another person should stand together with the reader at the reading of the Torah.

Note Soferim 14:14 (quoted by the Mishnah Berurah 141:16), which mentions the custom that two other people stand by the reader while the Torah is read, one on his right and one on his left.

8

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.

ח

הקורא יש לו לדלג ממקום למקום בענין אחד כגון אחרי מות ואך בעשור שבפרשת אמור אל הכהנים והוא שלא יקרא על פה שאסור לקרות שלא מן הכתב אפילו תיבה אחת ולא ישהה בדילוג אלא כדי שישלים התורגמן תרגום הפסוק:

The reader may skip from place - from one passage in the Torah

to place - to a different passage in the Torah

in one subject - However, skipping from one subject to another subject is forbidden, because it may confuse the listeners. (See the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 144:1.)

for example - The Rambam chooses as his example the passages read by the High Priest in the Temple on Yom Kippur. However, as explained in the Mishnah (Yoma 7:1), the High Priest, himself, would not skip from passage to passage in the Torah.

from Acharei mot... - Leviticus, Chapter 16, which describes in detail the Yom Kippur offerings.

to Ach be'asor, in the portion Emor el Hacohanim - Leviticus 23:26-32, which describes the mitzvah to fast and the prohibition of work on Yom Kippur.

provided he does not read by heart. It is forbidden [for a reader] to say even one word [without looking at the text]. - Rav Kapach cites the Midrash Tanchuma, Va'era 5, which states:

A reader is forbidden to take his eyes off the Torah scroll, for the Torah was given only in writing, as [Exodus 34:2] states: "And I will write the words on the tablets."

Note also Gittin 60b, which mentions a general prohibition against reciting verses from the written Torah by heart.

[When] skipping [in this fashion, the reader] should not wait longer than it takes for the translator - See Halachah 10.

to translate one verse - because waiting any longer would be an affront to the congregation (Yoma 69b).

At present, it is customary to skip from passage to passage in the reading of the Torah on public fast days alone. (See Chapter 13, Halachah 18.) Even then, the transition is made between the first and second aliyot, so that it will not be noticeable to the listeners.

9

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.

ט

כיון שהתחיל הקורא לקרות בתורה אסור לספר אפילו בדבר הלכה אלא הכל שומעין ושותקין ומשימין לבם למה שהוא קורא שנאמר ואזני כל העם אל ספר התורה ואסור לצאת מן הכנסת בשעה שהקורא קורא ומותר לצאת בין איש לאיש ומי שהוא עוסק בתורה תמיד ותורתו אומנותו מותר לו לעסוק בתלמוד תורה בשעה שהקורא קורא בתורה:

Once the reader begins reading the Torah, it is forbidden [for the congregants] to talk - The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 146:1) states that the prohibition applies even between aliyot.

even regarding matters of Torah law. - The Mishnah Berurah 146:5 mentions that if it is necessary to prevent a person from committing a sin, one may speak even while the Torah is being read.

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." - This describes Ezra's reading of the Torah to the people who returned to Zion on Rosh HaShanah.

It is forbidden to leave the synagogue while the reader is reading from the Torah. - This prohibition applies even though one has already heard the Torah reading oneself and there are ten other people listening to the Torah reading (Mishnah Berurah 146:1).

Berachot 8a interprets Isaiah 1:28, "Those who turn away from God will be destroyed," as a reference to a person who leaves the synagogue when the Torah scroll is open.

However, one is permitted to leave between aliyot - provided there are ten others who will remain to hear the Torah reading, and one has fulfilled (or will be able to fulfill) one's obligation to hear the Torah. Even under these circumstances, leaving the synagogue is not desirable (Mishnah Berurah 146:2-3).

A person who is constantly involved in Torah study, and Torah is his occupation - The license for such a person to ignore the Torah reading in order to concentrate on his studies is taken from Berachot (loc. cit.), which relates that while the Torah was being taken out, Rav Sheshet would turn his back and occupy himself in his studies, saying, "Let them be occupied in what concerns them, while we will be occupied in what concerns us."

See Hilchot Talmud Torah 1:4, which states that the mitzvah of Torah study takes precedence over all other commandments. Based on this principle, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his disciples would not interrupt their studies even for prayer (Shabbat 11a - see Chapter 6, Halachah 8). However, the Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit. 106:3) states that this applies only to scholars like Rabbi Shimon, who never interrupt their studies at all. However, at present, even scholars whose occupation is Torah must interrupt their studies for prayer, for they make other interruptions as well.

The Rabbis question whether the law under discussion applies only to scholars of Rabbi Shimon's level, or whether it is also relevant to scholars of the present day. The Kessef Mishneh notes that the citation of the behavior of Rav Sheshet as a source for this halachah appears to support the latter opinion. Rav Sheshet, like the other Amoraim of the Talmudic period, was not considered to be on the same level as Rabbi Shimon. In contrast, the Mishnah Berurah 146:9 maintains that, at present, we have no scholars who have the level of devotion to Torah study that would permit such a leniency.

is permitted to involve himself in Torah study while the Torah is being read. - The Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit. 146:2) and the Mishnah Berurah 146:8-10 place various restrictions on this license. There must be ten others listening to the Torah, the person must study quietly, and he should turn away and begin his studies before the Torah reading is begun.

10

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].

י

מימות עזרא נהגו שיהא שם תורגמן מתרגם לעם מה שהקורא קורא בתורה כדי שיבינו ענין הדברים והקורא קורא פסוק אחד בלבד ושותק עד שיתרגם אותו התורגמן וחוזר וקורא פסוק שני ואין הקורא רשאי לקרות למתורגמן יותר מפסוק אחד:

From the time of Ezra - when the Jews who returned from the Babylonian exile did not speak Hebrew fluently. (See Chapter 1, Halachah 4.)

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 Book of Nechemiah, Chapter 8, describes Ezra's reading of the Torah to the people on Rosh HaShanah. Verses 7 and 8 explain that "they caused the people to understand the reading." Megillah 3a explains that this refers to the translation of the Torah.

The reader should read one verse alone and remain silent while the translator translates it. - For the two voices will prevent the people from hearing either of them.

Afterwards, he should read a second verse. The reader is not permitted to read to the translator more than one verse [at a time] - lest the translator become confused.

The Tur (Orach Chayim 145) writes that even in Talmudic times, it was not customary to translate the Torah in all communities. He explains that, in his age, the custom of translating the Torah had already been ceased because the people did not understand the Aramaic translation traditionally used. The rabbis did not want to translate the Torah into the languages which the people did understand, because of the possibility of error and misinterpretation. Such fears had not existed in regard to the Aramaic translation, since it had been composed with Ruach Hakodesh (Divine inspiration).

[The Tur, however, also mentions the opinion of Rav Natrunai Gaon, who maintains that the translation should be done freely, so that the people can understand, without referring to the traditional text.]

The Tur's opinion is accepted by the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 145:3) and in nearly all contemporary Jewish communities, the custom of using a translator during the Torah reading is no longer practiced. For this reason, rather than present a running commentary on Halachot 11 and 12, we have limited our comments to short footnotes.
1. Berachot 45a states that this principle is derived from the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. God, "the Reader," did not lift his voice over that of Moses, "the translator."

It was also customary to use a מתורגמן in teaching the oral law. Hence, parallels to many of the laws mentioned in this halachah can also be found in Hilchot Talmud Torah 4:3.
2. The Jerusalem Talmud (Megillah 4:1) mentions that we should approach the Torah reading with awe, reflecting the awe experienced by the Jews at Mount Sinai.
3. Rabbenu Nissim maintains that this prohibition only applied before Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi permitted the oral tradition to be recorded. Afterwards, it was permitted for the translator to use a written text. Rabbenu Nissim's position is somewhat difficult to accept, since the Jerusalem Talmud (Megillah, loc. cit.), the source for this law, was written several hundred years after Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi granted this leniency. Nevertheless, Rabbenu Nissim's view was widely accepted.
4. The Tosefta, Megillah 3:21, cites the example of Aharon, who served as a spokesman for Moses. See also Kessef Mishneh.
5. Genesis 35:22. The direct translation of this verse would be unbecoming to both Reuven and Jacob (Rashi, Megillah 25a).
6. The third of the priestly blessings states: "May God turn His countenance to you...." This appears to be a direct contradiction to the description of God (Deuteronomy 10:17) as "not turning His face...." Though our Sages resolved that difficulty (Berachot 20b), a problem might come up in a simple translation of the verse.

Rav Kapach notes that the Yemenite texts of Targum Onkelos lack a translation for the three verses of the priestly benediction.
7. Were the common people given the opportunity of hearing the full story of the golden calf, they might believe that it had spiritual power (Rashi, loc. cit.). Alternatively, the narrative places a major burden of responsibility on Aharon (Tosafot, Megillah, loc. cit.).
8. The commentaries note that this passage is not read as a haftarah at present. Rav Kapach states that the need to make this statement indicates that in Talmudic times, the passages that were read as haftarot were not fixed and there was some room for choice.
9. Verses from the Torah cannot be skipped in a public Torah reading. However, it is permitted to skip verses from the prophets while reading the haftarah (Tos'fot Yom Tov, Megillah 10:3).

11

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.

יא

אין הקורא רשאי להגביה קולו יותר מן המתרגם והמתרגם לא יגביה קולו יותר מן הקורא ואין המתרגם רשאי לתרגם עד שיכלה הפסוק מפי הקורא ואין הקורא רשאי לקרות פסוק אחר עד שיכלה התרגום מפי התורגמן ואין התורגמן נשען לא לעמוד ולא לקורה אלא עומד באימה וביראה ולא יתרגם מתוך הכתב אלא על פה ואין הקורא רשאי לסייע לתורגמן שלא יאמרו תרגום כתוב בתורה והקטן מתרגם ע"י גדול ואין כבוד לגדול שיתרגם על ידי קטן ולא יהיו המתרגמין שנים כאחד אלא אחד קורא ואחד מתרגם:

12

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.

יב

ולא כל המקראות מתרגמינן בצבור מעשה ראובן וברכת כהנים ומעשה העגל מן ויאמר משה אל אהרן עד וירא משה את העם וגו' ועוד פסוק אחד ויגף ה' את העם כולם נקראין ולא מתרגמין ובמעשה אמנון במקום שנאמר אמנון בן דוד נקרא ולא מתרגם:

13

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.

יג

המפטיר בנביא צריך לקרות בתורה תחלה אפילו שלשה פסוקים חוזר וקורא מה שקרא לפניו ולא יפטיר בנביא עד שיגלול ספר תורה ולא יפחות מעשרים ואחד פסוקים ואם שלם הענין בפחות מאלו אינו צריך להוסיף ואם קרא עשרה פסוקים ותרגמן המתרגם דיו ואפילו לא שלם הענין ובנביא אחד קורא ואפילו שנים מתרגמין ומדלג מענין לענין אחר ואינו מדלג מנביא לנביא אלא בנביאים של שנים עשר בלבד ובלבד שלא ידלג מסוף הספר לתחלתו וכל המדלג לא ישהה בדילוג אלא כדי שישלים המתרגם תרגומו:

The person who reads the haftarah - See the commentary on Halachah 2 for a description of the origin of the custom of reading the haftarah.

must read from the Torah first. - This was instituted as a token of respect for the Torah reading. Reading from the prophets without reading from the Torah would imply an equivalence between the seven people who read from the Torah and the one who reads from the prophets (Megillah 23a).

Even three verses [are sufficient]. - As mentioned in Halachah 3, each person called to the Torah must read at least three verses.

He should read again the passage that had been read previously - i.e., the concluding three lines of the Torah reading.

Note Tosafot, Megillah 23a, which states that in Talmudic times, the person who recited the haftarah would read a separate portion from the Torah. It is our custom that on festivals and in the special circumstances described in Chapter 13, Halachot 20-24, that the person who reads the haftarah reads a separate Torah portion.

He should not [begin] reading the haftarah until the Torah scroll has been rolled closed. - Rashi, Sotah 39b, states that the person reading the haftarah should wait to allow the person who rolled the Torah closed also to hear the haftarah. Others explain that it is not respectful to the Torah for it be open while the haftarah is being read.

He should not read fewer than twenty-one verses [as the haftarah]. - Since an aliyah has a minimum of three verses, the twenty-one verses of the haftarah will parallel the seven aliyot of the Torah reading (Megillah 23a).

However, if a concept is completed in fewer [verses] than that, he need not add more. - Megillah (loc. cit.) cites the eight concluding verses from Jeremiah, Chapter 7, which were read as the haftarah for Parashat Tzav. (At present, it is customary to add a number of other verses to that haftarah. The haftarah read for Parashat Ki Tetzey has only ten verses.)

If he read only ten verses, but the haftarah is translated, it is sufficient even if the concept is not completed. - Rabbenu Nissim explains that after the final verse is translated, one should repeat the verse in its original to conclude with the words of the prophet. Thus, the ten verses, the ten translations, and the repetition of the verse will reach the sum of twenty-one.

[When reading] from the prophets, one reads and even two may translate. - Though Halachah 11 prohibits two people to serve as translators for the Torah simultaneously, this restriction is not enforced regarding the haftarah. Rashi, Megillah 21b, explains that the prohibition was instituted to prevent confusion. However, since the haftarot are concerned more with ethics than halachic concepts, the Sages did worry that much about the possibility of confusion arising.

One may skip from one concept to another. - Here, the same principle is involved. Though skipping in this manner in a Torah reading is forbidden (Halachah 8), there is no such restriction for the haftarah. Indeed, in many of the haftarot read at present, it is customary to skip certain verses.

However, one should not skip from one prophet to another - for this would be too confusing (Megillah 24a).

except among the twelve prophets - for they are considered to be a single book.

Furthermore, [even within a book from a single prophet,] one should not skip from the conclusion of the book until its beginning - for it is improper to reverse the order of the verses as they are mentioned in the Bible.

Whenever one skips, one should not wait longer than it takes the translator to complete his translation. - Megillah (loc. cit.) explains that this is a practice of respect for the congregation, to prevent them from being forced to wait in silence.

14

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.

יד

הקורא בנביא יש לו לקרות לתורגמן שלשה פסוקים והמתרגם מתרגם שלשתן זה אחר זה ואם היו שלשה הפסוקים שלש פרשיות לא יקרא לתורגמן אלא אחד אחד בלבד:

A person reading from the prophets may read three verses to the translator at one time - Though verses from the Torah should be read to a translator one at one time (see Halachah 10), as mentioned in the previous halachah, more leniency is taken regarding verses from the haftarah.

and the translator translates them one after another. If the three verses are three separate passages - Megillah 24a cites the verses from Isaiah 52:3-5 (included in the haftarah of Parshat Shoftim) as an example of such a phenomenon. [It must be noted that these verses are included in two passages (and not three as stated by the Rambam) in all texts of the Bible. Note the commentary of Rabbenu Nissim, who explains two passages as "two different concepts."]

[the reader] should read them to the translator only one at a time - to prevent confusion.

15

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.

טו

המפטיר בנביא מברך לפניו ברכה אחת ברוך אתה ה' אלהינו מלך העולם אשר בחר בנביאים וכו' ומברך לאחריו ארבע ברכות ברכה ראשונה חותם בה האל הנאמן בכל דבריו שנייה חותם בה בונה ירושלים שלישית חותם בה מגן דוד רביעית חותם בה ענין קדושת היום כמו שחותם בתפלה וכן אם חל ראש חדש להיות בשבת המפטיר בנביא מזכיר ראש חדש בברכה זו כמו שמזכיר בתפלה:


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.... - The full text of this blessing is found in the Order of Prayers for the Entire Year. This blessing is considered to be one long blessing, which begins with Baruch and concludes with Baruch (Rav David Arameah).

After [completing the reading], he recites four blessings. - Thus, he recites a total of seven blessings, corresponding to the seven people called to the Torah (Soferim 14:1).

He concludes the first blessing - which begins: "Blessed are You..."; the entire prayer is considered to be one blessing.

"the God who is faithful in all of His words." - The Avudraham explains that since the object of most of the prophecies is "Zion, Elijah, and David" (i.e., the Messianic redemption), after praising God as faithful to fulfill His prophecies, we begin the second blessing, which centers on the return to Jerusalem.

He concludes the second blessing: "who builds Jerusalem" - as in the grace after meals. This text is also found in the siddurim of Rav Amram Gaon and Rav Sa'adiah Gaon. Soferim 13:12 concludes the blessing "who causes Zion to rejoice in her children." The Ra'avad and the Kessef Mishneh suggest concluding the blessing in this fashion. This is the commonly accepted practice today.

He concludes the third blessing: "the Shield of David." - Pesachim 117b compares this to the conclusion of the first blessing of the Shemoneh Esreh, "the Shield of Abraham."

He concludes the fourth blessing - which centers on the Sabbath or festival celebrated

with the mention of the sacred aspect of the day, as he does in the - fourth blessing of the

Shemoneh Esreh. - See Chapter 2, Halachot 5 and 7.

Similarly, if Rosh Chodesh falls on the Sabbath, the one who reads the haftarah mentions Rosh Chodesh in - the middle of

this blessing, as he does in the - middle of the fourth blessing of the Musaf

Shemoneh Esreh. - However, he does not conclude the blessing with the mention of Rosh Chodesh, as he would in the Musaf prayer. (See Chapter 2, Halachah 11.)

Shabbat 24b questions whether Rosh Chodesh should be mentioned in this blessing. On one hand, when Rosh Chodesh falls during the week, the haftarah is not read. Hence, one might assume that there is no connection between the two and, hence, there is no need to mention Rosh Chodesh in the blessings. However, on the other hand, we find that when Yom Kippur falls on the Sabbath, the Sabbath is mentioned in the Ne'ilah service, despite the fact that the Ne'ilah service would otherwise not be recited on the Sabbath.

Though Rashi and Rav Yitzchok Alfasi interpret the passage in the same manner as the Rambam, Rabbenu Asher and Rabbenu Nissim rule that no mention should be made of Rosh Chodesh in this blessing. The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 284:2 follows the latter position.

[The siddurim of Rav Amram Gaon and Rav Sa'adiah Gaon include mention of Rosh Chodesh in the conclusion of the blessing as well. The text of the authoritative Yemenite manuscripts of the Mishneh Torah also accept this view.]

16

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.

טז

כמה הן הקוראין בשבת בשחרית קוראין שבעה וביום הכפורים ששה ובימים טובים חמשה אין פוחתין מהן אבל מוסיפין עליהם בראשי חדשים ובחולו של מועד קורין ארבעה בשבת וביוה"כ במנחה ובשני ובחמישי של כל השנה ובחנוכה ובפורים בשחרית ובימי התענית בשחרית ובמנחה קורין שלשה אין פוחתין ממנין זה ואין מוסיפין עליהן:

How many readers [are called to the Torah]? On Sabbath morning, seven; on Yom Kippur, six; on festivals, five. - This reflects a descending order of holiness. Working on the Sabbath is punishable by execution; working on Yom Kippur by כרת (premature death by the hand of heaven); and on festivals, certain labors are permitted.

This number may not be reduced. - In order to distinguish each day with the measure of holiness which it is due.

However, it may be increased. - This statement is quoted from the Mishnah (Megillah 3:2). Rabbenu Nissim explains that the license to increase the number of people called to the Torah applies only on the Sabbath, in order to clearly differentiate between the different holy days. However, Rashi (like the Rambam, here) explains that it refers to all three occasions. Since working at one's occupation is prohibited on all three occasions, there is no difficulty in adding to the number of people called to the Torah.

The Ramah (Orach Chayim 282:1) states that it is customary to follow Rabbenu Nissim's opinion.

On Rashei Chadashim and on Chol Hamo'ed, four people [are called to] read [from the Torah]. - These days are put in a category of their own, because although they are distinguished by the recitation of the Musaf service, work (albeit with restrictions on Chol Hamo'ed) is permitted

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, - See Chapter 13, Halachah 18.

three people [are called to] read [from the Torah]. This number - three or four, respectively

may not be reduced - since, as stated in Halachot 1 and 3, a minimum of three people must be called to the Torah, and a distinction must be made between the days when Musaf is recited and when it is not recited.

nor may it may be increased. - On all these occasions, with the exception of the Minchah services of the Sabbath and Yom Kippur, work is permitted, and the Rabbis did not want to have people lose time from work by calling extra people to the Torah. On the Sabbath no additions were made, since it was customary to hold study sessions during the afternoon. Since the reading on Yom Kippur afternoon was instituted as parallel to that of the Sabbath afternoon, no additions are made then.

17

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.

יז

אשה לא תקרא בציבור מפני כבוד הציבור קטן היודע לקרות ויודע למי מברכין עולה ממנין הקוראים וכן מפטיר עולה מהמנין שהרי הוא קורא בתורה ואם הפסיק שליח ציבור בקדיש בין משלים ובין המפטיר אינו עולה מן המנין ציבור שלא היה בהם יודע לקרות אלא אחד עולה וקורא ויורד וחוזר וקורא שנייה ושלישית עד שיגמור מנין הקוראים של אותו היום:

A woman should not read the Torah publicly, as a token of respect for the community. - This decision (quoted from Megillah 23) implies that a woman could receive an aliyah and recite the blessings over the Torah. However, as a gesture of respect to the community, women were not given this privilege.

Note the comments of the Magen Avraham 282:6, who states that women are obligated to hear the weekly Torah reading.

A minor - i.e., a male under thirteen

who knows how to read - since, as stated below, according to the Rambam, only a person who knows how to read can be called to the Torah.

and is aware of the One who is being blessed - i.e., understands that reciting the blessings and reading the Torah is part of the service of God. See the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah, Berachot 7:2.

may be counted as one of the required number [of people - There is a question among the commentaries if this refers only to the number of seven readers who must be called to the Torah on the Sabbath, or if this also refers to the three readers whom Ezra established as the minimum required to read from the Torah at all times. Rav Kapach relates that in the Rambam's Commentary on the Mishnah (Megillah 4:6), he originally accepted a child as one of the seven, but not as one of the three. However, afterwards, he amended the text so that it appears that he accepts a child even as one of the three.

called to the Torah]. - However, the Magen Avraham (ibid.) states that a child should be called only for maftir and even that custom is not practiced in most communities at present.

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 - although, as mentioned in Halachah 13, he reads a portion that has already been read.

[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 - See Halachah 20.

[the latter] is not included as one of the required number [of people called to the Torah] - because the Kaddish marks the conclusion of the required Torah reading. In such an instance, since the required number of people were not called to the Torah, the entire Torah reading must be repeated (Rav David Arameah).

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 - to distinguish between aliyot

[from the platform] - The Torah was read on a platform in the center of the synagogue. See Chapter 11, Halachah 3.

return and read again a second and a third time until he completes the number of aliyot designated for that day. - TheTur (Orach Chayim 141) explains that, at present, the custom is to have the chazan read for everyone. If only those who knew how to read from the Torah were given aliyot, two problems would arise:
a) Many people who do not know how to read from the Torah would be embarrassed;
b) People who do not know how to read correctly would claim that they do know how to read, and arguments might crop up between them and the synagogue officials.

Nevertheless, since there is a question whether it is acceptable for a person to recite the blessings when he does not actually read from the Torah, it is desirable that the person who recites the blessings read along with the chazan in an undertone. (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 141:2, and commentaries.) Yemenite custom, even at present, is that each person called to the Torah reads himself.

18

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.

יח

בכל קריאה וקריאה מאלו כהן קורא ראשון ואחריו לוי ואחריו ישראל ומנהג פשוט הוא היום שאפילו כהן עם הארץ קודם לקרות לפני חכם גדול ישראל וכל מי שהוא גדול מחברו בחכמה קודם לקרות והאחרון שגולל ספר תורה נוטל שכר כנגד הכל לפיכך עולה ומשלים אפילו גדול שבציבור:

In all of these [Torah] readings, a priest reads first; - Though our practice has its origins in the decrees of the Sages as explained below, there is also a Torah command (see Sefer HaMitzvot, Positive Commandment 32) to give precedence to a priest regarding the Torah reading. However, according to the Torah, this commandment applies only when the two are equal in wisdom (as mentioned below).

after him, a Levite; and after him, an Israelite. - Gittin 5:8 states that this practice was instituted by the Sages to establish peace among the people. Originally, the first aliyah would be given to the sage of greatest stature in the community. However, strife and contention would frequently break out concerning the designation of the person deserving of that honor.

It is common custom at present - However, in Talmudic times, if a sage was obviously of a higher stature than the priests who were present, he was called first. Thus, Megillah 22a relates that Rav would receive the first aliyah in the presence of Shmuel, although Shmuel was a priest and Rav was not.

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. - In his Commentary on the Mishnah (Gittin, loc. cit.), the Rambam writes:

Know that the practice which is widely accepted everywhere, that a priest reads first in the synagogue regardless of whether he is a sage or a commoner, regardless of whether there is someone of greater stature there or not, is a matter which has no basis in the Talmud.... I wonder where this blemish came from....

The Rambam continues to explain that even at present, it is proper to call a sage of greater stature to the Torah before a priest of lower stature. Though the Rambam's opinion has been supported by many commentaries, in practice the commonly accepted custom has been allowed to be continued. The reason for this is quite clear. The strife and contention that existed in Talmudic times would surely return (Beit Yosef, Orach Chayim 135).

Whoever is greater than his colleague in wisdom is given precedence regarding the reading [of the Torah]. - Gittin 60a states that after the priest and the Levite, the aliyot should be given to "Torah sages who serve as community leaders, the sons of Torah sages who serve as community leaders, the heads of the community, and then all people."

The last person who rolls the Torah scroll closed receives a reward equivalent to that of all the others. - Megillah 32b states that the gollel - the one who rolls the Torah closed - receives a reward equivalent to that of all the others who read from the Torah.

Apparently, the Rambam interprets this statement as referring to the person who receives the final aliyah, or on Sabbath and festivals, the one who reads the haftarah. He should also roll the Torah closed. The Mishnah Berurah (147:5-6) quotes a different view, explaining that the term גולל refers to the person who lifts the Torah up (what we refer to as Magbiah). It is customary that the person who receives this honor need not read from the Torah beforehand.

Therefore, even the person of the greatest stature in the community can receive the concluding aliyah. - Because of the principles mentioned above, one might think that the sage of greatest stature should receive the third (or the first) aliyah. However, since the reward received by the גולל is greater, the sage may be given this honor.

19

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.

יט

אין שם כהן עולה ישראל ולא יעלה אחריו לוי כלל אין שם לוי כהן שקרא ראשון חוזר וקורא הוא עצמו פעם שנייה במקום לוי אבל לא יקרא אחריו כהן אחר שמא יאמרו הראשון פסול ולפיכך עולה כהן אחר וכן לא יקרא לוי אחר לוי שמא יאמרו אחד משניהם פסול:

When there are no priests present - or the priest is at a point in prayer where he is forbidden to make an interruption (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 135:5).

an Israelite is called to the Torah - Our translation follows the statements of Rav Sa'adiah Gaon, who writes that the honor should be given to an Israelite and should not be given to a Levite. However, the Ramah (Orach Chayim 135:6) states that the honor may also be given to a Levite.

and a Levite should not be called after him at all - lest one think that the person called to the Torah before him is a priest (Beit Yosef, Orach Chayim 135).

Note the statements of Rav Sa'adiah Gaon, who maintains that in such circumstances, the Levite may be given one of the later aliyot. His opinion is quoted by the Shulchan Aruch (loc. cit.:10). However, the Ramah maintains that a second priest or Levite should not be given one of the first seven aliyot.

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. - An Israelite should not be called, for this would create the impression that the first person called to the Torah was not a priest (Mishnah Berurah 135:28).

Another priest should not read [from the Torah] after him, lest others say that there is a blemish in the first's lineage - even if his father was known to be a priest, it is possible that his mother was unfit to marry a priest.

and, therefore, another priest was given the aliyah. - In contrast to the situation involving two Levites mentioned below, the second priest's lineage would not be doubted, for were he not a priest, he would not be given this aliyah either (Mishnah Berurah 135:28).

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 - i.e., even if his father was a Levite, it is possible that he married a women who is a ממזרת, and thus their children are also ממזרים (Mishnah Berurah 135:30).

20

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].

כ

כיצד סדר הקריאה בתורה אחר התפלה כל יום שיש בו תפלת מוסף אחר שיגמור שליח צבור תפלת שחרית אומר קדיש ומוציא ספר תורה וקורא לאחד אחד מן הציבור ועולין וקורין בתורה וכשגומרין מחזיר ספר תורה למקומה ואומר קדיש ומתפללין תפלת מוסף וימים שיש בהן מפטיר ומוסף נהגו לומר קדיש קודם שיעלה המפטיר ויש מקומות שנהגו לומר קדיש אחר המפטיר:


What is the order [of the service] when the Torah is read after prayer? - Having outlined the halachic principles governing the reading of the Torah, the Rambam turns to explaining the order of the prayer service on the days when the Torah is read. Thus, this and the following two halachot complete the description of the order of communal prayer begun in Chapter 9.

On a day when there is a Musaf service - but when the haftarah is not recited - i.e., Rosh Chodesh or Chol Hamo'ed

after the leader of the congregation completes the morning service, he recites Kaddish - full Kaddish, to indicate the completion of the morning service

and takes out the Torah scroll - The Mishnah Berurah 141:25 states that the Torah scroll should always be taken to the platform on the right side, as the reader faces the platform.

He calls the members of the community, one by one, and they ascend - to the platform on which the Torah is read. Hence, the name aliyah (ascent) is used to refer to a person called to the Torah.

and read from the Torah. When they have completed the reading, he returns the Torah scroll to its place - as mentioned in Chapter 9, Halachah 14, here the congregation recite Tehillah l'David and U'va l'Tzion.

recites Kaddish - half-Kaddish. The Rambam's statements are based on Soferim 21:6. It is our practice to recite Kaddish after the Torah reading and then, again, as an introduction to the Musaf prayers.

and then the [congregation] recites the Musaf service.

On days when the haftarah is read and there is a Musaf service - i.e., Sabbaths and festivals

it is customary to recite Kaddish before the person who reads the haftarah ascends [for his aliyah]. - Thus, the Kaddish differentiates between the Torah reading, which is obligatory, and the portion read by the person who recites the haftarah, which was instituted only as a token of respect for the Torah (Soferim, loc. cit.).

The Rambam does not state whether the Torah scroll should be returned before the morning service or afterwards. In one of his responsa, he writes that there is no advantage to one practice over the other, and everything depends on local custom.

There are places where it is customary to recite Kaddish after the person who reads the haftarah [completes his Torah reading]. - Halachah 17 describes the consequences that result from this difference in custom.

21

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.

כא

ובמנחה של שבת ושל יום הכפורים אחר שיגמור שליח ציבור תהלה לדוד וסדר היום אומר קדיש ומוציא ספר תורה ועולין וקורין בו ומחזירו ואומר קדיש ומתפללין מנחה וכן בתענית קוראין במנחה ואח"כ אומר קדיש ומתפללין תפלת מנחה אבל ביום טוב לא נהגו לקרות במנחה:

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 - i.e., U'va l'Tzion. See Chapter 9, Halachah 13. On Yom Kippur, it is our custom to recite these prayers before the Ne'ilah service, and not before Minchah.

he recites the Kaddish - a half-Kaddish

and takes out a Torah scroll. - The congregation should stand while the Torah scroll is being taken from the ark (Kiddushin 33b). Soferim 14:14 states that the congregation should walk after the Torah scroll while it is being taken from the ark to the reading platform and when it is returned.

The Ramah (Orach Chayim 149:1) mentions the custom of training children to kiss the Torah scroll as it is taken out.

[Those called to the Torah] ascend and read and then, [the Torah scroll] is returned [to its place. - The congregation should rise and accompany it back to the ark (Shulchan Aruch and Ramah, Orach Chayim 149:1).

The leader of the congregation] recites Kaddish - half-Kaddish

and the [congregation] recites the Minchah service.

Similarly, on a fast day - after the recitation ofTehillah l'David and half-Kaddish

the Torah is read [before] the Minchah service. - See Chapter 13, Halachah 18.

Afterwards, Kaddish is recited - a half-Kaddish

and the Minchah service is recited. On festivals, it is not customary to read [the Torah] in the Minchah service. - As explained in Halachah 1, the Torah reading on Sabbath afternoons was instituted for יושבי קרנות. According to the interpretation that this refers to idle people who sit on the street corners, Rabbenu Manoach explains that this reason would not apply on the festivals, when the people are involved in the preparation of their festive meals. Even according to the interpretation of the term as "shopkeepers," it is possible that in consideration of the time spent preparing the festive meals, the Rabbis did not institute the reading of the Torah in the Minchah service.

22

[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.

כב

ויום שאין בו מוסף כשגומר תפלת שחרית אומר קדיש ומוציא ספר תורה וקוראין בו ומחזירו ואומר קדיש ואחר כך אומר תהלה לדוד וסדר היום כדרך שאומרים בכל יום ואומר קדיש וכל העם נפטרין:

[When the Torah is read on] a day when Musaf is not recited - i.e., on Mondays and Thursdays, Purim, Chanukah, and fast days

after the morning Shemoneh Esreh is completed - and the supplicatory prayers have been recited

[the leader of the congregation] recites the Kaddish - half-Kaddish

and takes out a Torah scroll. [After the portion is] read from it, [the Torah scroll] is returned [to its place. - Interestingly, this is the custom in some Ashkenazic communities. However, in Sephardic communities, it is customary to return the Torah scroll to the ark after the recitation of the full Kaddish mentioned below (Shulchan Aruch and Ramah, Orach Chayim 25:13).

The leader of the congregation] recites Tehillah l'David and the order of Kedushah - U'va l'Tzion

as is the practice every day. - See Chapter 9, Halachah 13.

[Afterwards,] he recites the Kaddish - the full Kaddish, to indicate the completion of the service.

and the people depart.

23

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.

כג

אין קוראין בחומשין בבתי כנסיות משום כבוד ציבור ואין גוללין ספר תורה בציבור מפני טורח הציבור שלא יטריח עליהם להיותן עומדין עד שיגלול ספר תורה לפיכך אם יצטרכו לקרות שני ענינים מוציאין שני ספרי תורה ולא יקרא איש אחד ענין אחד בשתי תורות שמא יאמרו ספר ראשון פגום היה ולפיכך קורא בשני:

It is not proper to read from chumashim - In the Talmudic era, the term, chumashim, referred to scrolls that contained only one of the five books of Moses. Hence, it would be proper to read from them were it not for the honor of the community (Rabbenu Nissim). In contrast, our chumashim cannot be used for reading the Torah at all. Even if a community does not have a Torah scroll, a blessing may not be recited over a reading from a printed chumash (Ramah, Orach Chayim 143:2).

in synagogues, as a token of respect for the community - i.e., it is proper that a community possess a complete Torah scroll. The Jerusalem Talmud (Megillah 3:1) states that this prohibition was instituted so that the community would be upset that they were prevented from hearing the Torah readings, and therefore buy a Torah scroll. (See also Chapter 11, Halachah 1.)

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. - Rashi, Yoma 70a, offers another reason: because the congregation is forced to stand idly while the scroll is being rolled.

Therefore, if it is necessary to read two separate concepts, two Torah scrolls are taken out. - See Chapter 18, Halachot 22-24.

[However,] one person should not read one concept from two Torah scrolls - See Hilchot Avodat Yom HaKippurim 3:10, which describes the portions read by the High Priest in the Temple on Yom Kippur. He would read one passage by heart, rather than roll the Torah scroll.

The Merkevat HaMishneh explains that if the passages read from the two scrolls deal with two different subjects, one person may read from two scrolls. See Chapter 13, Halachah 4.

lest people say that the first scroll was invalid and, therefore, they read from the second. - Interestingly, the Rambam does not mention at all the laws which apply when a Torah scroll is found invalid. (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 143.)

24

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.

כד

כל הגולל ספר תורה גוללו מבחוץ וכשהוא מהדקו מהדקו מבפנים וצריך להעמידו על התפר כדי שלא יקרע מקום שמוציאין ספר תורה אחר שקוראין בו ומוליכין אותו לבית אחר להצניעו אין הצבור רשאין לצאת עד שיצא ספר תורה וילוו אותו והם אחריו עד המקום שמצניעין אותו בו:

When a person rolls a Torah scroll [closed] - Apparently, in Talmudic times, one person would both lift the Torah up and roll it closed. (This practice is followed today among Chabad Chassidim.)

he should roll it from the outside. - The Ramah (Orach Chayim 147:4) interprets this statement (a quote from Megillah 32b) to mean that when a Torah scroll is rolled closed, the blank side of the parchment should face the outside, and the writing should face the person holding the Torah scroll.

When he ties it, he should tie it from the inside. - Tosafot (Megillah, loc. cit.) explains that if the knot is on the outside, when the Torah scroll is opened it would have to be turned over to be untied.

He should leave the stitching - between the different columns of the Torah scroll

[in the center], so that it will not rip. - i.e., if the Torah scroll is torn because one person pulled one etz chayim (one of the rods on which the Torah scroll is mounted) from the other, the scroll will tear on the stitching and not on the text.

In a place where a Torah scroll is taken [from the synagogue] to another room where it is kept, the congregation - The Ramah (Orach Chayim 149:1) interprets the following prohibition to apply only to the community as a whole. One or two individuals are allowed to leave.

is not allowed to leave until the Torah scroll is taken. - The Tur, Orach Chayim 149, interprets Sotah 39b, the source for this prohibition, as forbidding one to leave from the same exit through which the Torah will be taken, but allowing one to leave through another exit, because it is improper for a person to walk in front of the Torah scroll.

The Rambam does not allow this leniency, since abandoning the Torah does not show respect. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 149:1) quotes the Tur's opinion.

They should accompany it, following it to the place where it is kept. - Sotah 39b derives this law from Deuteronomy 13:5: "Follow after God, your Lord." The Ramah (loc. cit.) states that similar practices should be followed when the Torah is kept in the ark, as is customary today. (See also the commentary on Halachah 21.)