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The Mishna in Yoma says that when the Kohen Gadol used to read from the Sefer Torah on Yom Kippur, he had to read two portions: one from Acharei Mos and the other from Emor. It says that he used to read Acharei Mos, then he used to say the reading from Emor by heart.

The Rambam explains that he couldn't

  1. Roll it to Emor - since it wouldn't be Kavod Hatzibur to have them stand and wait for the Kohen to roll the Sefer Torah.
  2. Read from another Torah - since it could cause people to suspect the first one to be not kosher.

So the Kohen had no choice but to read a portion of the Torah by heart (which is a generally prohibited).

Nowadays, we take out two Torahs whenever there are two readings in one day. Why are we not concerned for the honor of the first one?

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Those portions don't seem so far apart! – Double AA Feb 19 '12 at 5:19
@DoubleAA Maybe they had different column heights then? – Shmuel Brin Feb 19 '12 at 5:20
More likely they had sephardi style cases. – Double AA Feb 19 '12 at 5:25
up vote 8 down vote accepted

The Gemara there (70a) points out that there's a difference. In the kohen gadol's case, it would be one person reading from two different sifrei Torah; that would lead people to think that the first one was invalid. Where it's different people reading from different scrolls, though, it is fine. (The example the Gemara gives there - Rosh Chodesh Teves on Shabbos - involves three sifrei Torah; Mishnah Berurah 144:18 says that the same is true with two people and two scrolls.)

As for the underlying reason, Mishnah Berurah (:17) cites Magen Avraham that it is because calling up the next person makes it, in a sense, a new beginning of the Torah reading.

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