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Shabbat Parashat Naso | 5769

Ask the Rabbi: Maftir

First we will summarize the matter of an oleh reading along the regular kriat hatorah. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 141:2) rules that it is critical for the oleh to read along because, if not, his beracha will not be connected to any reading of his and would be l’vatala. For the same reason, the Shulchan Aruch (OC 139:3) says that a blind man cannot have an aliya because he must read from the sefer Torah. The Rama (ad loc.) argues that now that the oleh only makes the berachot and does not read the Torah for the community to hear, the blind, as well as those who do not know how to read along, may get aliyot, as is the practice. The Rama does not dispute the requirement that the oleh read along. The Biur Halacha (to 141:2) presumes that regarding those who cannot read along, the Rama relied on the lenient opinion that reading along is not absolutely necessary to avoid the divisive situation where many people would be denied aliyot. However, he agrees that, normally, one should read along.

Are the halachic “dynamics” of haftara reading as strict as those for kriat hatorah? Some poskim approach the question in the opposite direction, as we will explain. The Rama (OC 284:4) says that one who received maftir should be the one who reads the haftara. Only if he cannot read the haftara, should someone else read the haftara. Why can’t the maftir just recite the berachot on the haftara and have someone else lain it? The Pri Megadim (284, EA 3) seems to say that just as regarding regular kriat hatorah, one cannot only recite the berachot without reading, so too for the haftara. Thus, he implies that just as we have the oleh read along quietly for regular laining, the same can be done for the haftara (The Minchat Yitzchak IX, 22 says that the Pri Megadim views this as a b’dieved situation, although he does not understand why; the Pri Megadim can be read differently.) The Mishna Berura (284:8) and Yaskil Avdi (VII, 14) also equate haftara to kriat hatorah regarding someone other than the oleh reading.

The Chayei Adam (31:40, accepted by the Mishna Berura, ibid.) says that the Gra instituted a change in minhag. Instead of having the oleh for maftir make the berachot and lain the haftara, he separated the two by insisting that a klaf be used, which can be read only by experts. This raises the next question: does the reading along need to be from the klaf, when it is used, or not? First, we should understand that the idea to require a klaf was raised by the Levush (against the prevalent minhag of his time, cited by the Mishna Berura 248:1), who assumed that the rules of what a haftara is read from is like that of a Torah or a megilla. Despite the fact that the Magen Avraham (284) and Taz (284:2) justified the old minhag (see Divrei Yatziv, OC 129 at great length), the use of klaf spread with the encouragement of later Acharonim. It is quite accepted that if people read along from a chumash, they are covered even if the maftir does not read from a klaf (see Biur Halacha to 284:5). Therefore, if the oleh for maftir reads along because he cannot make berachot without reading, even reading from a printed haftara suffices. If one feels that one must read from a klaf because it is no different from Torah reading, then just as a regular oleh must read from the Torah, so must the oleh for maftir/haftara read along from the klaf. The latter approach appears to be a chumra, but it is hard to track minhagim.

We suggest that if an oleh can easily read along with the lainer from the klaf he might as well do so. However, one need not insist on this, and it could be counterproductive for an oleh who cannot read effectively without punctuation.


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This edition of Hemdat Yamim is dedicated to the memory of

R ' Meir ben Yechezkel Shraga  Brachfeld


Hemdat Yamim is endowed by
Les & Ethel Sutker of Chicago, Illinois in loving memory of
Max and Mary Sutker

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