Q&A on Kerias Hatorah on Shavuos and Mivtza Aseres Hadibros

* This article is an excerpt from the above Sefer

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The Mivtza of hearing Aseres Hadibros on Shavuos:

A. The reading of Aseres Hadibros on the first day of Shavuos:[1]

On the first day of Shavuos, five men are called up for Aliyos and [a portion from] the Parsha of Yisro is read, which includes the reading of the Aseres Hadibros. One reads from the words “Bachodesh Hashlishi Latzei until the end of the Parsha.[2]

Standing during Aseres Hadibros:[3] It is an old custom amongst many communities to stand during the reading of Aseres Hadibros.[4] Some Poskim[5], however, rule one is not  allowed to stand during Aseres Hadibros.[6] Practically, the Chabad custom is to stand, facing the Sefer Torah.[7] If the entire congregation is standing then one is obligated to stand together with them, even if in general he is accustomed to sit.[8] 


B. Having all men, women and children come to hear the reading of Aseres Hadibros:[9]

It states in the Psikta that G-d told the Jewish people “When you read the Ten Commandments each year, I consider it as if you were standing on Mount Sinai accepting the Torah.” For this reason, all members of Jewry are to attend the Torah reading of the Aseres Hadibros. This includes men, women and children of all ages, including even infants who were just born; just as was the case by Matan Torah.


C. Making additional Minyanim for the above purpose:

May one make additional readings of Kerias Hatorah for people who have yet to hear it by Shacharis?[10] Yes. Although there is no obligation to do so, nonetheless it is proper to do so and so is the custom.

Until what time may one read the Keria for Aseres Hadibros?[11] The Yom Tov Torah reading may take place anytime throughout the day [until sunset]. Thus, a congregation which did not read the reading by Shacharis, may do so by Mincha and call up five Aliyos, just as is done by Shacharis.[12]

How many people are needed for the Minyan of Kerias Hatorah?[13] One may not read from the Torah [with its blessings] with less than ten adult men above the age of Mitzvos.[14] Many Poskim[15] rule that if at least six people amongst the ten have not yet heard Kerias Hatorah and still need to be Yotzei, one may perform Kerias Hatorah with its blessing.[16] See our Sefer “The laws and customs of Kerias Hatorah” Chapter 1 Halacha 3 for the full details of this subject! If a Minyan is not available, it is permitted for one to take out the Sefer Torah and read the Torah portion from it without its blessings.[17]

May six people who already heard the reading join for the Minyan if they had in mind to not be Yotzei? Some Poskim[18] rule that one who has in mind to not be Yotzei, is considered still obligated to hear the reading, and thus they may join for a Minyan to make a new reading of Kerias Hatorah. They can also make a stipulation that if they will be needed for another Minyan then they have in mind to not be Yotzei.[19] [Accordingly, those involved in Mivtza Aseres Hadibros on Shavuos, may have in mind by the Torah reading to not be Yotzei with the reading just in case they are needed for a reading later on. Nonetheless, initially, if a Minyan for the reading is already scheduled to take place later on, then it is better for the participants to exit the Shul prior to the reading in the morning, than to remain and intend to not be Yotzei.[20]] See our Sefer “The laws and customs of Kerias Hatorah” Chapter 1 Halacha 3 in Q&A for the full details of this subject!

D. May one remove a Sefer Torah from a Shul in order to read for others in a different area?[21]

No. One is to arrange that people come to Shul for the Torah reading. It is forbidden to remove the Sefer Torah and bring it to the area the people are found, unless one prepares an Aron for the Sefer Torah in its new location and it is brought there some time prior to the reading, and the Sefer Torah will remain there for 1-2 days, and one will read from at least on three different occasions.[22]

People stuck in a hospital or old age home: If there are ten adult Jewish men stuck in a hospital, or old age home, and all cases of the like where they do not have permission to leave, then they may have a Sefer Torah brought to them for Kerias Hatorah. It is permitted to be brought there even temporarily for the sake of the reading and returned. See our Sefer “The laws and customs of Kerias Hatorah” Chapter 1 Halacha 8 for the full details of this subject!

E. The reading:

May one read just the 10 Commandments? No. One is to read the entire reading with five Aliyos.[23] However, if a Minyan is not available, it is permitted for one to take out the Sefer Torah and read the Torah portion from it without its blessings.[24]

When making an additional reading outside of Shacharis, should one recite the regular prayers of Ata Hareisa, Vayehi Binsoa, etc? One may do so, and so is the custom.

When making another reading must the Maftir and Haftorah also be read? If there are six people present who did not yet hear the Maftir/Haftorah, or who heard but had in mind to not be Yotzei, then it is to be read.

Must one have a Mechitza between the men/boys and women/girls by the reading?[25] Yes.

F. Prizes and raffles for the children:

May one do a raffle to distribute prizes for the children who come to the reading?[26] To avoid all halachic issues, if one desires to have a raffle by a children’s gathering, then one is to make sure before Yom Tov to cut the raffle tickets that will be distributed, and to only do the raffle after Yom Tov, in which case the children will be able to call and discover the winning numbers and claim their prize, and so is done amongst many Frum organizations that have children gatherings. One is not to do the raffle on Yom Tov itself. Nonetheless, those who are lenient to do so for the sake of garnering the children’s interest and attention in order to teach the children Torah and Mitzvos, may have upon whom to rely especially on Yom Tov, and especially if they don’t use raffle tickets but rather a chosen number, even though initially, as we stated, all raffles should be deferred until after Yom Tov. [Another alternative followed by many, is that rather than doing a raffle, one should simply distribute a prize such as an ice cream to each child who was present for the reading.]

May one distribute ice cream immediately after the reading to the children who are present if they will most certainly not wait for Kiddush in order to eat as by that time it would melt? It is permitted for a child to eat or drink before Kiddush until the age of Bar/Bas Mitzvah, if they desire to eat.[27] Accordingly, there is no issue to distribute ice cream to the children even if they may come to eat it before Kiddush. As for those whose children who due to being close to the age of Mitzvos took upon themselves to no longer eat before kiddush, the solution is for one of them to make Kiddush in a side room and then eat it.


[1] Admur 494:4

[2] The reason: As this Parsha discusses the matters that occurred on Shavuos, which is the giving of the Torah. [ibid]

[3] See Kaf Hachaim 146:23; Piskeiy Teshuvos 146:6; Beit Maran [Rav Yitzchak Yosef]; Bayit Neman [Rav Meir Mazuz] No. 14; 51; 65; 100; 113

[4] Ledavid Emes 7:5; Tov Ayin 11; Shaar Efraim 7:37; Shalmei Tzibur 290; Kaf Hachaim 146:23; Ketzos Hashulchan 84 footnote 22 that so is custom of world; Igros Moshe 4:22; Shemesh Umagen 57; Mishneh Halachos 11:118

[5] Teshuvas Rambam 46 [Makitzei Nirdamim 263]; Maharikash in Ohalei Yaakov 33; Machazik Bracha 146:8 based on Arizal, brought in Kaf Hachaim 146:23; Opinion in Ledavid Emes 7:5 [He originally writes that it is improper for the entire congregation to stand, and then brings from his Sefer Machazik Bracha that even individuals should not stand, and then concludes that in some communities everyone stands, and ends up defending the practice]; Yechaveh Daas 6:8 rules not to stand and that the custom to stand is to be abolished; Toldos Hair Kavna p. 229 that so ruled the Raavad, Rav Leib Shapiro, to abolish the custom; See Beir Moshe 8:60

[6] The reason: As it is forbidden to single out a section of Torah, such as the Aseres Hadibros, due to it leading people to believe that only it is the true part of the Torah. [Poskim ibid; See Admur Basra 1:9, Kama 1:10; Rama 1:5; Brachos 12a; Rashba 1:184] However, others negate this worry by stating that the worry is no longer applicable today and does not apply here as one anyways stands for more than just the ten commandments. [See Ulidavid Emes ibid; Shaareiy Rachamim on Shaar Efraim ibid based on Levush 494 and Machatzis Hashekel 429]

[7] Hayom Yom 24th Shevat; 1st day Chag Hashavuos; 13th Menachem Av; Sefer Haminhagim [English] p. 61; See Shulchan Menachem 1:262 footnote 11 and Chikrei Haminhagim 1:62

[8] Tov Ayin 11; Shaareiy Efraim ibid; Kaf Hachaim 146:23; Ketzos Hashulchan 84 footnote 22; See Kneses Hagedola E.H. 62; Ikarei Hadaat, and other Poskim brought in Kaf Hachaim ibid; Yechaveh Daas ibid concludes that in such a case he is to stand already from the beginning of the reading; Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid [see there that the same applies vice versa, that if the entire congregation is accustomed to sit then one is not to stand, however, see Ledavid Emes and Kaf Hachaim ibid who write that individuals may stand and see Q&A below!];

[9] See Likkutei Sichos 23:251; 256; 28:315; Toras Menachem 5784 3:1833; Sefer Mivtzaim Kehilchasam 2:169-184; Nesivim Besedei Hashlichus 2:4-7

[10] See Toras Chaim Sofer 135:4; M”B 135:7; Shaareiy Rachamim 7:16; Ketzos Hashulchan 84:11 footnote 18; Piskeiy Teshuvos 135:5

[11] Digul Merivava 135; Mahariy Asad 51; Goren David; Maharshag 2:92; Teshuvah Meahavah 1:28; M”B 135:1 and 5; Ketzos Hashulchan 25:14; Kinyan Torah 4:17; Piskeiy Teshuvos 135:3; See Peri Hasadeh 3:1; Beis Yisrael 20; Betzel Hachochma 4:17; Shevet Halevi 4:15; 5:16; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:145; Yabia Omer 4:13; Tzitz Eliezer 13:27

[12] Digul Merivava ibid; Shaareiy Efraim 7:39; M”B ibid; Ketzos Hashulchan ibid

[13] Michaber 143:1

[14] Michaber ibid; Rambam Tefilla 2; Ketzos Hashulchan 26:14

[15] Biur Halacha 143:1 “Bepachus” based on Ran; Ashel Avraham 69; Maharsham 1:175; 2:97; Lev Chaim 2:25; Levushei Mordechai 1:39; Ketzos Hashulchan 26:14; Keren Ledavid 16; Har Tzevi 1:52; Shaareiy Teshuvah 566:4 in name of Machazik Bracha regarding Taanis Tzibur  that 6-7 people fasting suffices; See Yabia Omer 8:14; Mishneh Halachos 3:17

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that one may only perform Kerias Hatorah with its blessing if at least ten people have not yet heard Kerias Hatorah and still need to be Yotzei. [Chayeh Adam 31:11 questions this matter; Aruch Hashulchan 69:14; Binyan Shlomo 35; Igros Moshe 1:38] Other Poskim rule that one may perform Kerias Hatorah with its blessing if at least seven people have not yet heard Kerias Hatorah and still need to be Yotzei. [Kaf Hachaim 143:3 in name of Lev Chaim 2:25] Other Poskim rule that by a reading of three Aliyos, such as on Monday, Thursday, and Mincha of Shabbos, it suffices to have three people who have not yet heard Kerias Hatorah and still need to be Yotzei. [Peri Hasadeh 2:97; Shaareiy Rachamim 7:18; Toras Yekusiel 51; Daas Sofer 1:8; Daas Torah 69 although concludes with Tzaruch Iyun; Mahariy Asad 51; So rule regarding a fast: Bach in name of Aguda; Meiri Megillah 2a; Orchos Chaim [Lunil]; Leket Yosher 114 in name of Terumos Hadeshen; Aruch Hashulchan 566:7; Maharsham 2:97; Daas Torah 69; Sdei Chemed 1 Klalei Haposkim 13:7; Sefer Haminhagim [English] p. 26; Piskei Dinim 566; Shut Tzemach Tzedek Shaar Hamiluim 8, brought in Shaar Hakolel 9:17; Igros Kodesh 16:313; Luach Kolel Chabad; Hiskashrus 1024 footnote] Other Poskim imply it suffices to have even one person who did not yet hear the Torah. [Implication of Maharil end of Shabbos that he once missed Kerias Hatorah and read it to himself after the Minyan. See Daas Torah ibid] Other Poskim rule one may repeat the reading even if everyone already heard the Torah. [See Noda Beyehuda Tinyana O.C. 15; Birkeiy Yosef, brought in Daas Torah ibid]

[16] The reason: As whenever majority of a Minyan is obligated in a matter, we allow the recital of a Davar Shebekedusha. [See Admur 55:3; 69:4-5]

[17] Elya Raba 143:2; Makor Chaim 143 of Chavos Yair; Shaareiy Efraim 7:38; Piskeiy Teshuvos 143:1

[18] Noda Beyehuda Tinyana O.C. 15; Daas Torah 69; Toras Yekusiel 51; Levushei Mordechai 1:19; Piskeiy Teshuvos 143:3

Other opinions: From some Poskim, it is evident that one cannot intend to not be Yotzei Kerias Hatorah as it is a congregational obligation. [See Aruch Hashulchan 69:8 and all Poskim who rule that it is a congregational obligation, seemingly would also hold that it does not suffice to intend to not be Yotzei; Rav Raskin in name of Rav Gedalia Leiberman sides that making this Tnaiy does not help; See reply of Rebbe recorded in Igros Kodesh 3:4, brought in the next Q&A, from which it is possible to learn that having in mind to not be Yotzei does not suffice, although this is not imperative, as perhaps the case there refers to a case where the listeners had nothing in mind!]

[19] See Admur 46:9 in parentheses; 489:12; Michaber 489:3 as explained in Taz 489:6; M”A 489:7 according to opinion that Mitzvos need Kavana; M”B 489:16; See Birchas Habayis 46:15 footnote 41; Piskeiy Teshuvos 489:13 footnote 62; Piskeiy Teshuvos 296:17; Yalkut Kerias Hatorah p. 1321

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that making a Tnaiy is useless, as one cannot questionably join the fulfillment of a Mitzvah. [Taz 489:6] It is thus questionable whether he has fulfilled his obligation even if he made a Tnaiy and remembered later on. [P”M 489 M”Z 6]

[20] This is in order to suspect for the stringent opinions brought above

[21] Michaber 135:14; 584:3; based on Yerushalmi brought in Beis Yosef 135 “In all places we say one must go to the Sefer Torah and not have the Sefer Torah come to him”;

[22] See Rama 135:14 [one to two days]; M”A 135:22 [Makom Kavua]; Aruch Hashulchan 135:32 [three times]

[23] Birkeiy Yosef 685:3

[24] Elya Raba 143:2; Makor Chaim 143 of Chavos Yair; Shaareiy Efraim 7:38; Piskeiy Teshuvos 143:1

[25] Likkutei Sichos 23 footnote 56

[26] See Shevet Halevi 9:78; SSH”K p. 242; Piskeiy Teshuvos 322:10; Shut Hashluchim 1 p. 205

See regarding the raffling prohibition: Michaber 322:6; Admur 338:6; M”A 322:9; M”B 322:24; Ketzos Hashulchan 146:32 footnote 70 [lenient regarding using Sefer or by heart]; Piskeiy Teshuvos 322:10; See regarding raffling for the sake of a Mitzvah on Shabbos and Yom Tov: M”A 322:9 forbids on Shabbos, and even on Yom Tov if could have done the day before; Nezer Hakodesh, in name of Shevus Yaakov, brought in M”B 322:24; Tzemach Tzedek 26; Ketzos Hashulchan 146:32 footnote 70-71 [is lenient by all needs of Mitzvah]; Piskeiy Teshuvos 322:0

See regarding the prohibition of gifting: Admur 306:15-16; 323:1; 8; 252:12; 261:2; 444:9; 448:16; 517:1; 527:28; Kuntrus Achron 444:2; M”A 306:15 in name of Beis Yosef 527 and Mordechai Beitza 676; Elya Raba 306:19; Tosefes Shabbos 306:20; M”B 306:33; See Mahariy Asad 83; Kesav Sofer 59; Toras Chesed 27; Binyan Shlomo 17; Aruch Hashulchan 306:17; Pischeiy Teshuvah Even Haezer 45:1; Kaf Hachaim 306:44; SSH”K 29:29; Beis Meir E.H. 45; Maharam Shick 24; Piskeiy Teshuvos 306:22;

See regarding gifting for the sake of a Mitzvah: Admur 444:9; 448:16; Kuntrus Achron 444:2; 261:2 rules one may not make a Kinyan on Shabbos even for the sake of a Mitzvah, even during Bein Hashmashos. Likewise, Admur 306:15 rules that one may not make something Hekdish on Shabbos, thus implying it is forbidden to do so even for the sake of a Mitzvah. Likewise, the ruling in 306:16 implies that an Esrog may only be given on condition to return. These rulings contradict the above statement of Admur. See Hearos Ubiurim 822 p. 54; M”A ibid in name of Beis Yosef 527 and Mordechai ibid; Elya Raba ibid; M”B ibid; Aruch Hashulchan ibid; Hagahos Chasam Sofer on M”A 306:15; Piskeiy Teshuvos 306:22; Toras Chesed 27

See regarding the allowance for gifting the raffle tickets: Piskeiy Teshuvos 323:6

Background: Doing a raffle on Shabbos and Yom Tov for the sake of distributing prizes touches upon two possible prohibitions, one being the prohibition against giving presents out on Shabbos and Yom Tov, and the second being an intrinsic prohibition against doing raffles. Now, while the first prohibition against giving out presents is waived in the event that the present is a food which can be eaten on Shabbos, such as if one is raffling a chocolate bar, [and the same seemingly applies to any item which has a Shabbos use for the child such as a game or toy which can be used on Shabbos], nonetheless, the second prohibition still applies, as the sages prohibited one against doing raffles on Shabbos even to food items being that it is similar to gambling and doing business which is forbidden to be done on Shabbos. Now, although the above is being done for the sake of a mitzvah, to garner the attention of the children for the sake of involving them in a Torah activity, nonetheless, according to most Poskim, we do not waive the raffling prohibition even when done for the sake of a mitzvah, if one is raffling out an actual item. Likewise, it is not clear and unanimous amongst the Poskim that the gifting prohibition is unequivocally waived for the sake of a Mitzvah when the item being gifted is not Shabbos need, even though there are authorities who indeed rule this way. Furthermore, even if we were to agree that the prohibition is waived, it is unclear if the allowance would apply when the item being gifted is not intrinsically a necessary mitzvah item. The above applies equally to Yom Tov, just as it applies to Shabbos. Accordingly, due to all the above, obviously the best route to follow is to simply have the raffle be done after Shabbos and Yom Tov and avoid all the possible Shabbos prohibitions, although nonetheless, those who are lenient, we cannot say that they have nothing to rely upon if it is considered done for the sake of a mitzvah. This leniency especially applies on Yom Tov when there are authorities who hold that a raffle may be done for items that could not have been raffled the day before. Likewise, this leniency especially applies if the raffles been done by simply choosing a number as opposed to choosing a raffle ticket.

[27] Admur 269:3 regarding Kiddush in Shul; 343:7; 106:3 regarding eating prior to Shacharis; 471:10; 472:23; M”A 106:3; 269:1; M”B 269:1“It is permitted to feed children food on Shabbos morning prior to Kiddush and it is forbidden to oppress him”

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