The person being called should take the shortest possible route to the
bimah so that there is no unnecessary delay. If all of the routes are equal
in distance, he should ascend from the right side(5).
Before reciting the blessing, the oleh should look inside the Torah to see
where the ba'al koreh will begin reading. He then rolls up the scroll and
recites Borchu followed by the first blessing. Alternatively, he may leave
the scroll unrolled but closes his eyes while reciting Borchu and the
After the reading is over, the sefer should be rolled up and the final
blessing recited. The final blessing should not be recited over an open
sefer even if one keeps his eyes closed.
The blessings must be recited loud enough so that at least ten people are
able to hear them. The poskim are extremely critical of those who recite the
blessings in an undertone(7).
WHO IS CALLED TO THE TORAH?
While it is appropriate and preferable to call to the Torah only those who
are G-d fearing Jews who observe the mitzvos, when the need arises or for
the sake of peace it is permitted to call even non-observant Jews(8). But
under no circumstances is it permitted to call non-believers to the Torah,
for their blessings are not considered blessings at all. If absolutely
necessary, it may be permitted to accord them honors that do not necessitate
a blessing, e.g., hagbahah or gelilah(9).
Most often the aliyos are allocated in rotating order or at the gabbai's
discretion. But it is a long-standing tradition which has become universally
accepted to mark milestone events by receiving an aliyah. People marking
such events are called chiyuvim, since custom dictates that they are
obligated to receive an aliyah. Sometimes, however, there are not enough
aliyos for all of the people who are chiyuvim(10). Based on the opinion of
the majority of the poskim, the following, in order of priority, is a list
of the chiyuvim who are entitled to an aliyah(11):
A chasan(12) on the Shabbos before his wedding [or on the Shabbos before he
leaves his hometown to travel to his wedding].
(13)A child(14) who becomes bar mitzvah on that Shabbos(15).
The father of a newborn(16) boy or girl, if the mother is in shul for the
first time since giving birth(17).
A chasan on the Shabbos after his wedding, if the wedding took place on
Wednesday or later in the week.
A Shabbos yahrtzeit(18).
The father of baby boy(19) whose bris will be that Shabbos or during the
A chasan on the Shabbos after his wedding, if his wedding took place before
A yahrtzeit during the upcoming week(21).
One who must recite the ha-Gomel blessing(22).
One who is embarking on or returning from a journey.
An important guest.
CONSECUTIVE ALIYOS FOR RELATIVES
In order to avoid ayin harah, a "bad omen", the gabbai does not call a
father and a son or two brothers [who share a father] for consecutive
aliyos(23). Even if the parties involved are not concerned with ayin harah
and wish to be called consecutively, it is not permitted(24). Moreover, even
if the gabbai mistakenly did call the relative for a consecutive aliyah, the
one who was called should remain in his seat and not accept the aliyah(25).
If, however, the mistake was realized only after he ascended the bimah, then
he is not instructed to descend(26).
L'chatchillah, even brothers who share only a mother, or even a grandfather
and his grandson, should not be called for consecutive aliyos. If, however,
there is a need to do so, or if - b'dieved - the call to ascend to the bimah
was already made, it is permitted for them to accept the aliyah(27). All
other relatives may be called consecutively even l'chatchillah.
The consecutive aliyos restriction does not apply:
If the consecutive aliyah is the maftir on a day when a second sefer Torah
is read for maftir. e.g., on Yom Tov or Rosh Chodesh or when the Four
Parshios are read(28).
If the maftir is read by a minor (one who is not yet bar mitzvah)(29).
When the names of the olim are not used when they are called for an aliyah.
While most Ashkanezic shuls today do use names when calling the olim, in
some congregations no names are used for the shevii or acharon aliyos(30).
To hagbahah and gelilah, provided that they are not called by name(31).
If another person was called for his aliyah between them and that person
happened not to be in shul or was unavailable to receive his aliyah(32).
1. Some congregations add aliyos while others do not. Since both practices
have a basis in halachah, each congregations should follow its own custom.
2. Who can be either a kohen, levi or yisrael. Those congregations who add
aliyos may also call a kohen or a levi for the last aliyah (called acharon),
but should not call kohen or a levi for any of the other additional aliyos;
Mishnah Berurah 135:36-37.
3. O.C. 135:6.
4. O.C. 135:8.
5. O.C. 141:7.
6. Mishnah Berurah 139:19. The third choice, which is to leave the sefer open
but turn one's head to the left, is not recommended by the poskim, including
the Mishnah Berurah.
7. O.C. 139:6. See Chayei Adam 31:12.
8. Preferably, he should be called only after the first seven aliyos; Pe'er
ha-Dor 3, pg. 36, oral ruling from Chazon Ish.
9. Igros Moshe O.C. 3:12,21,22.
10. A general rule is that members of a shul have priority over non-members,
even if the non-member's chiyuv takes priority over the member's.
11. This list covers the Shabbos kerias ha-Torah only.
12. Who has not been married before.
13. If both the aufruf and the bar mitzvah want the same aliyah, then the one
who is a greater talmid chacham has priority. If that cannot be determined,
then the two should draw lots. Lots should be drawn whenever two chiuyvim
lay equal claim to an aliyah.
14. The father of the child, however, is not a chiyuv at all; Sha'ar Efrayim
15. According to some opinions, the same chiyuv applies even if the child
became bar mitzvah during the past week; Harav C. Kanivesky (Ishei Yisrael,
16. Even if the baby was stillborn; Sha'arei Efrayim 2:5.
17. If the wife is not in shul, then the husband has an obligation to receive
an aliyah when 40 days have elapsed from the birth of a male child, or 80
days from the birth of a female child.
18. A yahrtzeit chiyuv is only for a father or a mother. A yahrtzeit for a
father has priority over a yahrtzeit for a mother; Kaf ha-Chayim 284:6.
19. A father of a baby girl who is naming her on Shabbos has priority over a
father of a baby boy whose bris will take place during the week; Da'as Torah
20. According to some opinions, if the bris will take place on Shabbos, then
the father is a greater chiyuv than a yahrtzeit on that Shabbos; Ishei
Yisrael, pg. 410.
21. If two people have yahrzeit during the week, the one whose yahrtzeit is
earlier in the week has priority; Kaf ha-Chayim 284:6.
22. Ha-Gomel can be recited without an aliyah.
23. O.C. 141:6.
24. Mishnah Berurah 141:19. Aruch ha-Shulchan 141:8 maintains, however, that
one who is unconcerned with ayin harah may do as he wishes.
25. Be'er Heitev 141:5; Sha'arei Efrayim 1:33.
26. Mishnah Berurah 141:18.
27. Sha'arei Efrayim 1:33.
28. Mishnah Berurah 141:20. Some poskim do not recommend relying on this
leniency when no kaddish is recited between the aliyos, e.g., Chol ha-Moed
Pesach (Sha'arei Efrayim 1:32), while others are not particular about that
(Aruch ha-Shulchan 141:8). On Simchas Torah, however, all poskim are lenient
about this; see Yechaveh Da'as 3:50.
29. Mishnah Berurah 141:20.
30. Mishnah Berurah 141:21.
31. Teshuvos Avnei Chefetz 16.
32. Sha'arei Efrayim 1:30.
Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 1999 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and
Project Genesis, Inc.
Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne
Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily
Mishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.
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