I recently attended a weekday morning minyan where the Torah reader was reading simultaneously from a sefer Torah and a printed Chumash. It appeared that the person was mostly reading from Chumash and moving the yad to follow along in the sefer Torah. The usual liturgy before and after the reading was said as were the blessings before and after the aliyot. Is this a valid practice?

  • 2
    Are you sure he wasn't just checking often in the Chumash because he hadn't prepared the cantillation?
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 4:04
  • 1
    Could be. Is that valid? Previously I've only ever seen the gabbaim use a chumash. I'm wondering if the reader may use a chumash, whether as his primary or secondary text. Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 4:30
  • 2
    binyamin_tx, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks very much for the interesting question! I look forward to seeing your around.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 4:32

2 Answers 2


The Rama (OC 143:2) writes:

בחומשים שלנו, אפילו כל ה' ספרים ביחד אין לברך עליהם, ובמקום שיש ס"ת ואין ש"ץ הבקי בנגינה בעל פה, ראיתי נוהגים שהש"ץ קורא מן החומש בנקוד והעולה קורא אחריו מן הס"ת הכשר.‏
In our Chumashim [which are printed] even if all 5 Books [of the Torah] are included, one cannot recite a blessing over [reading from] them. In a place with a Torah Scroll but the leader doesn't know the cantillation by heart, I have seen a custom that the leader reads from a [printed] Chumash with vowels-points and the one receiving the Aliyah reads [word-for-word] after him in the kosher scroll.

I can't comment about the specifics of your case, but in general one may not recite the blessings and perform the standard Torah service using a printed Chumash[1]; however, when no one has prepared the reading, it's possible to have a prompter use a printed Chumash so long as it is read for real out of the kosher scroll.

[1] Reading from a written Chumash is a whole 'nother story, but you don't see those around too often anymore.

  • Thank you Double AA. You mentioned a prompter can be the one to use the chumash. But the quote from the Rama refers to the shatz himself reading from the chumash (printed) while the oleh reads from the kosher scroll. That's pretty much what I observed. Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 5:34
  • I assume what the Rama is talking about is the Shatz reading each word to the Oleh who reads it to everyone from the Scroll.
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 4, 2012 at 7:26
  • Keep in mind original Torah reading "protocol". Originally, each person read his own aliyah. This is generally what O.C. mentions pretty much throughout all the laws related to public Torah reading. Thus, in this law, it states that the shat"z reads from the chumash and the oleh reads from the scroll. Only years later did this job become designated to the Shat"z. Now, most shuls have designated Torah readers and the Shat"z only does tefillah.
    – DanF
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 19:22

R. Moshe Feinstein has a responsum that relates to this:

Igros Moshe O.C. 3:19

ובדבר הקורא שאינו יודע בע"פ את הטעמים ומניח החומש על השלחן ורואה בחומש כל מלה ומלה ואומר שאח"כ מביט בס"ת וקורא מהס"ת אין להניחו לעשות כן כי אין להאמינו לזה והוא בעצמו נמי א"א לו לידע זה שבקל יכול לטעות בזה שיהיה נדמה לו שקורא מהס"ת ובאמת קורא מזכירתו במה שראה בהחומש ויותר טוב לשמוע מבעל קורא השני שקורא מהס"ת ממש אף שאינו יודע את הטעמים ובלבד שיפסיק הפסוקים כראוי שיהיה ניכר סופי הפסוקים שאסור להפסיק במקום דלא פסקיה משה ואסור לחבר מה שפסקיה משה וכן טוב להחמיר באתנחתא אם אפשר וזה יכול איש אחר לעמוד על הבימה ולעיין בחומש ולהגיד לו סופי הפסוקים והאתנחתא כמו שעושין בכמה מקומות כשליכא בעל קורא טוב ובזה יהיה שלום בגבולם ושלום על כל ישראל

ואני מסתפק שאפשר שכל זמן שזוכרים כל בנ"א מראייתם בספר לקרא התיבות כמו שכתובין נחשב כקורא מספר ההוא אף שהוא אחר כדי דבור וממילא איכא חומרא שאם ראה בחומש לא יהני כלל מה שיראה תיכף בהס"ת שלכן אף אם נאמינו שראה בחומש תיכף אחר שראה בחומש אינו מועיל ואם הוא בתכ"ד מסתבר שודאי לא יועיל דהא תכ"ד כדבור דמי לכל התורה כולה ואיכא קולא מזה שאם ראה בס"ת ומאיזה סבה הוצרך לעצום עיניו שנחשבה קריאתו קריאה מהס"ת ובתכ"ד מסתבר שודאי יכול לקרא וצ"ע לדינא

As for the matter of the reader who does not know by heart the cantillations, and places a Chumash on the table and sees each word in the Chumash and claims that afterwards he looks in the Sefer Torah and reads from the Sefer torah, he should not be allowed to do this because he should not be believed for this. And he himself can't possibly know this because it is easy to make a mistake in this, with it appearing to him as if he is reading from the Torah while in truth he is reading from his memory of what he saw in the Chumash. It is better to hear [the reading] from a second reader who really reads it from the Tora heven though he does not know the cantillations, as long as he properly splits up the verses such that the ends of the verses are recognizable, for it is forbidden to stop in a place that Moshe did not stop and it is forbidden to join together what Moshe separated. It is also good to be stringent with regard to etnachta if possible. And you can have another man stand at the platform and look in the Chumash and tell him [the reader] the ends of the verses and the etnachta, as is done in many places when there is no good reader. With this there will be peace in their borders and peace on all of Israel.

And I am uncertain, for it is possible that as long as anyone remembers from seeing in the book how to read the words as they are written, it is considered as reading from that book even if it is after toch k'dei dibbur. Accordingly there is a stringency that if he saw it in a Chumash it doesn't help at all that he subsequently immediately saw it in the Sefer Torah, and therefore even if we were to believe him that he saw it in the Torah immediately after seeing it in the Chumash it wouldn't help. And if it is within toch k'dei dibbur it is logical that it would certainly not help because toch k'dei dibbur is like actual speech for the entire Torah. There is a leniency from this that if he saw it in the Defer Torah and for some reason needed to close his eyes, it would be considered as reading it from the Sefer Torah, and within toch k'dei dibbur it is logical that he can certainly read, and this requires more analysis for the actual law.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .