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This morning we read Parashat Mishpatim (Exodus 21:1 - 24:18) and the special reading of Parashat Shekalim (Exodus 30:11-16). The custom everywhere I have ever seen is to remove two Sifrei Torah from the ark for the two readings and to wrap up the first before reading from the second. This custom is very appropriate for other special second readings which are often far apart, as this saves time for the congregation instead of waiting while the scroll is rolled.

However, the readings this morning were only about 8 columns apart from each other! In my mind it is certain that rolling the scroll forward eight columns takes much less time than wrapping up the first Torah and opening the second. This is in fact our practice for the reading on a fast day, which skips from Exodus 32:14 to 34:1, a gap of approximately 2 columns, yet we only use one scroll.

Does anyone suggest using just one scroll when the second reading is this close?

I note that the same question applies to Rosh Chodesh on Parashat Chukat when the gap is from Numbers 22:1 to 28:9, also a gap of about 8 columns.

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3 Answers 3

up vote 13 down vote accepted

You are right. There is a Shita of the Meiri Bais HaBechira in Megila that says that on Parshas Shekalim you should only take out one Sefer Torah.

I imagine that the reason the Shulchan Aruch mentions that we use two Sefer Torahs is because of Lo Pelug.

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From what I see, he only suggests it, but says the minhag is otherwise. –  Danny Schoemann Apr 9 '13 at 11:52

Sefer HaToda'ah (The Book of Our Heritage) says that taking out multiple scrolls would seem unnecessary when the second portion is in close proximity to the first. Never-the-less, he says that the custom is to take out multiple Torahs.

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The entire point of reading Parashat Shekalim is to "announce" that Adar/Nissan are on the way, and as a reminder of the באחד באדר, משמעין על השקלים.

Taking out 2 Sifrei Torah forces people to take note.

Those who aren't following inside a Chumash would hardly notice anything amiss if one simply rolled a few columns and read a different Maftir and Haftara.

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An interesting idea, but quite a novel one too. If having two Torah's out is really such an integral part of the procedure, I'd expect that to be mentioned somewhere. –  Double AA Apr 9 '13 at 16:39
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@DoubleAA: Actually, the Meiri in Gershon's answers says that: והוצאת הספר נותנת היכר לכל על ענין הפרשה - on the 12th line. –  Danny Schoemann Apr 11 '13 at 8:16

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