22 12, 2020

Calling Up a Kohen Married to a Divorcee to the Torah

December 22nd, 2020|Keriat HaTorah, Kohanim, Orach Chayim|

QUESTION

Northwest, USA

If there are a pair of brothers (Reuven and Shimon) who’s father is a kohen and Reuven decided to forego his kohen status to marry someone, is Reuven still called to the Torah as Reuven ben Ploni haKohen, or just Reuven ben Ploni? (Shimon is in the same kehillah and is called up as the kohen he identifies as).

ANSWER

First of all – there IS NO SUCH THING as giving up your kohen status. You can violate your kohen status, but you are still a sinning kohen, not a non-kohen. […]

14 12, 2020

Projecting Vowels on Torah Scroll for Weekday Reading

December 14th, 2020|Keriat HaTorah, Orach Chayim|

QUESTION

Chicago, IL

My nervous-about-leining 13 year old asked me this theoretical question: On Monday or Thursday (of course this couldn’t be done on Shabbat), could a well placed projector be used to project the nekudot/ta’amim onto the Torah klaf during the leining?

ANSWER

Absolutely. You could also have earbuds on and listening to someone read it and saying it along with them, as long as you were looking at the Torah and actually reading the words. This is my general advice for Purim when someone or a community has […]

31 10, 2020

Receiving an Aliyah From Your Seat

October 31st, 2020|Keriat HaTorah, Orach Chayim|

QUESTION

New York, NY

When taking an aliyah from one’s seat and not standing next to the ba’al korei, should the oleh read the text from their chumash? Or is it better to just stand there and listen intently?

ANSWER

I don’t see any (halakhic) benefit in reading from the chumash. I actually think it is worse if it disconnects you from the connection to the reading itself.

Not looking in the Sefer Torah is based on the discussions around a blind person, and ultimately relies […]

24 10, 2020

Conjugating Chazak Chazak veNitchazeik in the Feminine

October 24th, 2020|Bar/Bat Mitzvah, Keriat HaTorah, Orach Chayim|

QUESTION

New York, NY

If calling up a Bat Mitzvah for the maftir aliyah, should you change חזק to חזקי? Is it a command? Or is it an adjective and should be חזקה? Or is it an adverb/exclamation and should just stay חזק?

ANSWER

I’m assuming you mean at the end of a sefer. It’s a command wish, “Be strong!” So yes, it should be חזקי (for those women who read Torah at women’s Torah readings or partnership minyanim), based on the pasuk שמואל ב י:יב,

(יב) […]

12 10, 2020

Cloth Covering on the Shulchan During Keriat HaTorah

October 12th, 2020|Keriat HaTorah, Orach Chayim, Sefer Torah|

QUESTION

Chicago, IL

Does a shulchan require a cloth covering for when the Torah is being read? Or can the Torah be read directly on wood?

ANSWER

No, a cover is not strictly needed. The Gemara talks about it being put down directly on a chair or the like. See Megillah 26b, Shulchan Arukh YD 282:12 (and the Tur/Beit Yosef there).

To clarify, if it is read directly on the wood, then the bimah becomes a tashmish kedushah, not just a tashmish DeTashmish. This is a larger discussion if it was only used […]

9 10, 2020

Rolling Sefer Torah on Shabbat in Preparation for Yom Tov

October 9th, 2020|Keriat HaTorah, Orach Chayim, Prohibitions, Sefer Torah, Yom Tov|

QUESTION

Baltimore, MD

Is there an issue with rolling sifrei Torah on Shabbat in preparation for Yom Tov? Would the tircha detzibura override any hachanah or quasi-hachanah concerns?

ANSWER

Well, someone could always get to shul early on Yom Tov morning, so not really tircha detzibura. But if you read (not keriah, just read like from a chumash) from the section you rolled it to, then you are using it on Shabbat. You can even point out to someone some interesting feature, like how the days are each a separate paragraph. […]

7 10, 2020

Unrolling the Entire Sefer Torah on Simchat Torah

October 7th, 2020|Keriat HaTorah, Orach Chayim, Sefer Torah|

QUESTION

Maryland, USA

I see a lot of non-Orthodox shuls have a practice of unrolling the Torah entirely on Simchat Torah (I think this started with the Renewal movement). Is this a kavod to the Torah or it a bizayon to the Torah? Are there any halakhic issues with this practice?

ANSWER

Regarding holding the entire Torah open – the first and primary concern that I would have is the issur to hold the klaf of the sefer Torah directly with your hands, based on Shabbat 14a, that a person cannot hold a sefer […]

2 10, 2020

Aliyot While Social Distancing

October 2nd, 2020|Keriat HaTorah, Orach Chayim|

QUESTION

Riverdale, NY

Which of the Keriat HaTorah options that allow for distancing (the ba’al korei gets all aliyot; oleh takes it from their seat; oleh approaches but does not stand at the Torah; something else) makes the most sense halakhically?

ANSWER

They are all legitimate. I prefer 7 olim getting it, especially if they can see the ketav and/or make a move towards the Torah.

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