How to perform Kerias Hatorah by porch Minyanim

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How to perform Kerias Hatorah by Covid-19 porch Minyanim:

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, Minyanim have sprouted on the porches of buildings that contain a Minyan worth of tenants, each individual sitting on his own porch, and the question is asked in regards to how Kerias Hatorah is to be performed? Should people be called to Aliya’s even though they are too far to see that which is written inside the Sefer Torah? May the Baal Korei himself receive all the Aliyos? Should they only do one Aliyah for the Baal Korei, or should they skip Kerias Hatorah all-together under such circumstances. The answer is as follows: [For further details on this subject, see our corresponding Sefer “The Laws & Customs of Kerias Hatorah” in which the points below have been discussed at length.]

Option 1-Receiving an Aliya’s from a distance: Ideally, the person who receives an Aliyah is to read along inside the Sefer Torah[1], which would exclude giving an Aliyah to a person who is physically distanced from the Sefer Torah and cannot read along. However, in truth, this matter is not invalidating[2], and hence from the letter of the law, there is room to allow by porch Minyanim for Aliya’s to be designated to any number of people irrelevant of their distance[3], so long as they are Halachically part of the Minyan and can clearly hear the reading of the Baal Korei. These people may say a before and after blessing to the reading of the Baal Korei, just as by a regular Aliyah. The person is to remain standing throughout his Aliyah and listen attentively to the reading of the Baal Korei, having in mind to be Yotzei with him. Prior to saying Barchu, he is to look at the start and end portion of the reading of his Aliyah just as is usually done.[4]

Option 2-Baal Korei receiving all Aliya’s:[5] Another alternative is rather than distributing Aliya’s to distant individuals, the Baal Korei himself is to receive all the Aliya’s. For this purpose, the Sefer Torah is to be housed in the home of a tenant who is likewise a Baal Korei and he is to read all the Aliyos from the Sefer Torah with a before and after blessing by each Aliyah. However, in such a case, the Maftir of Shabbos which repeats the last few verses of the Parsha, is to be skipped, and immediately after the Baal Korei says an after blessing after Shevi’i he is to immediately begin the Haftorah with its blessings. Only after the Haftorah is complete with its blessings is the half Kaddish to be recited.[6]

The need for a valid Minyan: All the above only applies if there is a valid Minyan by the Torah reading, which means that the Baal Korei/Olah[7] is able to see the faces of all ten men from his position[8], and that there is no public path/road interfering between him and the other nine men.[9]

Which of the above two options is the preferred one? Both options are considered Bedieved, and contain Poskim[10] which invalidate them. Nonetheless, being that the custom has become to be lenient regarding calling an illiterate man to the Torah, one can argue that option 1 is the preferred method. However, in truth due to the technical difficulty of assuring that each Olah and the Baal Korei contains a Minyan, practically, it is suggested that the Baal Korei receive all the Aliyos. In the event that someone has a Chiyuv for an Aliyah then he may receive an Aliyah as stated in option 1, and make sure that there are nine men facing the Olah and Baal Korei throughout his Aliyah.



Covid-19 porch Minyanim are to house the Sefer Torah in the home of the Baal Korei and are suggested to conduct Kerias Hatorah by having him read all the Aliyos from the Sefer Torah with a before and after blessing by each Aliyah, with exception to the repeated section of Maftir on Shabbos, which is to be skipped. Nonetheless, if there is a Chiyuv present, then the Chiyuv may receive an Aliyah from his porch and be Yotzei with the reading of the Baal Korei. In all cases, the Baal Korei and Olah [in the event that they are two different people] are to have nine people facing them to join for the Minyan.



[1] Michaber 141:2-3; Rama 135:4; Tzemach Tzedek 35; Sefer Haminhagim p. 13; Shulchan Menachem 1:260; See Piskeiy Teshuvos 141:2

[2] So rule regarding the validity for an Am Ha’aretz who cannot read to get an Aliyah: Rama 135:4; 139:3 in name of Maharil Hilchos Kerias Hatorah p. 452; Admur 66:6 regarding one in middle of Davening that hearing from the Baal Korei suffices; 185:2 regarding an Am Ha’aretz who does not understand the words; 282:9 “There is no prohibition to call an Am Ha’aretz”; Hilchos Talmud Torah 2:12 “Therefore an Am Ha’aretz may say the blessing when he gets an Aliyah to the Sefer Torah even though he does not understand the meaning of the words”; M”B 135:15; Piskeiy Teshuvos 139:6; So rule regarding the validity for a blind person to get an Aliyah: Rama 139:3; Maharil Hilchos Kerias Hatorah p. 452; Masas Binyamin 62; HaEshkol 2:69, brought in Nimukei Yosef Megillah 24a and Beis Yosef 139; Aguda Bava Kama 104 regarding if there is no Kohen available other than him; Mateh Moshe 244; Poskim in Beis Yosef 141; Levush 141:3 that so is custom; Bach 141 that so is custom and so is main opinion; M”A 139:4; Taz 141:3; Elya Raba 139:5; Olas Tamid 139:4; Soles Belula 139:1; Kneses Hagedola 139:1; Chayeh Adam  36; Kitzur SHU”A 23:17; Aruch Hashulchan 139:7; Many Poskim in Kaf Hachaim 139:15 This custom is followed today even amongst Sephardim: Pachad Yitzchak Erech Suma; Many Poskim in Kaf Hachaim 139:15; Yechaveh Daas 4:11; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid; See Yalkut Yosef 139:4 that his father later ruled that initially a blind person is not to be called to the Torah.

The reason: As since today the custom is for the Baal Korei to read aloud as opposed to the Olah, and we rule that Shomeia Keoneh, therefore there is no deficiency involved if the Olah cannot read along silently. [Taz 141:3; Biur Hagr”a; M”B 139:12] See Sheilas Yaavetz 1:75 who questions the above as it’s still not considered like he is reading from the words of the Torah which is invalidating. See Turei Even Megillah 19b who explains that Shomeia Keoneh makes it be considered as if he is reading it from the Torah; See Toras Chesed O.C. 8 in great length for the definition of Shomeia Keoneh; Har Tzevi 1:57; Kinyan Torah 5:13; Piskeiy Teshuvos 139:6; 128:8; 690:7; Admur 213:6;

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that it is forbidden to call an Am Ha’aretz for an Aliyah to the Torah if he cannot read the words from the script as it is forbidden to read even one letter by heart, and if the Olah does not read, he cannot say a blessing. [Michaber 139:3; 141:2; Beis Yosef 139 in name of Poskim] Likewise, some Poskim rule that it is forbidden to call up a blind man to the Torah [even today] as it is forbidden for one to read even one letter by heart. [Michaber 139:3; 141:2; Beis Yosef 141:1 in name of Rosh, Shibulei Haleket; Rabbeinu Yerucham; Darkei Moshe 141:1 rules like Beis Yosef that so is Ikkur; Sheilas Yaavetz 1:75 regarding one who is blind]

[3] We do not find in Halacha any minimum distance required for the Olah, and once we allow a blind person to receive an Aliyah based on Shomeia Keoneh, there is seemingly no difference between whether he is close or far. [So writes Sheilas Yaavetz ibid that according to the Poskim who permit a blind man to get an Aliyah there should be no difference regarding where in the Shul he stands] So is also done on Simchas Torah, where Aliyos are distributed to many people simultaneously and even people who are a distance from the Sefer Torah, and not even on the Bima, recite the blessings. [However, see Haeshkol ibid who writes regarding a blind person “Veomeid Betzido Vedayo,” which implies that the blind person must stand next to the Baal Korei. However, in truth one can argue that this was simply mentioned as a Derech Agav, and is not an invalidating factor.]

[4] See Michaber 139:4; Megillah 32a

The reason: This is done in order so the person knows the area of the reading that his blessing is being said on. [M”B 139:16]

[5] See Michaber 143:5 “A Shul which only contains one person who knows to read is to have him receive all the Aliyos, and say a blessing before and after each Aliyah” and 144:4; Rama 282:5; Admur 282:18; Bach 143; Elya Raba 282:4; Avnei Tzedek 27; Piskeiy Teshuvos 144:2

Other opinion: Some Poskim rule that one is not to receive two Aliyos even in a time of need, such as communities that give the Rav Shelishi and Maftir by Shabbos Chazon. [M”B 282:31]

[6] See Admur ibid; Rama 282:5; Darkei Moshe 282:5; Or Zarua Shabbos 43

[7] It does not suffice for the Baal Korei alone to have a Minyan, as the Olah is in essence considered the Chazan at the time of his Aliyah, and therefore he too must have a Halachic Minyan by him, which requires him to be able to see all nine people who are on their porches.

[8] See Admur 55:16 and 55:17 [that when in two different areas, such as two balconies, then the Chazan can be Mitzaref them if he sees them all, even though they do not see each other]

[9] See Michaber 195:1; Taz 195:2; Admur 195:1 [By Zimun two groups that have Derech Harabaim between them do not join even if see each other]; Kaf Hachaim 195:11 [applies even if see each other]; P”M 55 A”A 12 [the same applies by Minyan for Davening]; Mishneh Sachir ibid; Minchas Yitzchak ibid

[10] See previous footnotes!

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