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In Midrash Tanhuma Yitro 15, we read that Rabbi Akiva was called to "read the Torah" (לִקְרוֹת בְּסֵפֶר תּוֹרָה) before the congregation, but refused "because I have not reviewed the chapter two or three times, and no one is permitted to recite the words of the Torah until he has reviewed them two or three times by himself."

Now, was he called upon just "to read", in Hebrew with the proper vowels and cantillation, or should we also assume he was asked to give a dvar Torah on the portion?

I am asking: Can we accept an aliyah if we can read from the scroll, in Hebrew with the proper vowels and cantillation, but may not understand in depth what we are reading, with its many levels of meanings and associated commentaries?

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    Tosfot indeed quotes this requirement for Leining in Megillah 31b – Double AA Apr 23 at 0:54
  • Why do you think it's odd that R Akiva would turn down reading an Aliyah if he hadn't prepared the Leining? – Double AA Apr 23 at 1:15
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    Maurice - indeed, Shulchan Aruch does mention that the oleh should know how to read Hebrew, at least. Keep in mind, that the original public Torah reading was done by each oleh, and much of Shulchan Aruch conveys this concept. The designated ba'al kri'ah (Torah reader) is a significantly later concept. As for becoming more lenient in the requirement that the oleh be able to read Hebrew - that may be in some teshuva somewhere - have to hunt for that. – DanF Apr 23 at 1:21
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    He may know how to read Hebrew but who said he knew the vowels or the cantillation? He hadn't prepared so he didn't read the Torah... – robev Apr 23 at 1:45
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    Who said otherwise? – robev Apr 23 at 3:33
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SA OC 139.1

במקום שנהגו שהעולה עצמו קורא בקול רם אם לא סידר תחלה הפרשה פעמים ושלש בינו לבין עצמו לא יעלה. ובמקום שהחזן קורא הוא צריך לסדר תחלה (בית יוסף): ‏

The Shulchan Aruch needs only fluency in reading {as a musician needs to repeat the Music sheet, velocity, rythm and just cantilation}.

We can add as an explanation that if he prepared the reading good enough to read syntactically correct (nikud and Taamim, sufficient speed), there is no difference for people who are listening.

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