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It's time for Kri'at Hatorah (public Torah reading) on a Monday. The shul's regular Ba'al Kri'ah is absent, and no one else in the shul can read from the Torah - not even the rabbi. It is not just a question of not knowing the trope or pronouncing the words - they can't read the Hebrew writing in the Torah.

The rabbi appoints someone from the minyan and says, "You will open the Torah and while I read from a Chumash with trope, you'll repeat after me and follow along in the Torah." And this is how the Torah reading is done that day.

Is this halachically acceptable for public Torah reading? It seems that the "reader" wasn't actually reading; he was just mimicking what the rabbi was saying and the Torah was there as a prop.

Instead of the mimicking, would it have been better just to skip the Torah reading altogether? If this was not a halchically acceptable method, did those who received aliyot make a bracha levatalah (blessing in vain)?


To clarify b/c of comments: - My browser won't let me add comments, and, in this case, it's better to edit the question):

The rabbi stands on the side of the Torah table with the Chumash. Another stands in front of an open Torah holding the yad- the reader. Person getting the aliyah makes the bracha. The reader opens the Torah. The rabbi reads a few words from his chumash with the trope. The reader repeats exactly what the rabbi said - the words and the trope. But the reader is not moving the yad and not following any of the words in the Torah itself. He knows where the parsha starts, but has no idea, when looking in the Torah where the pasuk ends, or where the sequence of words that the rabbi said ends. In short, the open Torah is there as a "prop". He's not really reading any words from the Torah as a normal B'al Kri'ah would.

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    I can't imagine that it would have been better to just do nothing at all. – Daniel Nov 18 '14 at 4:00
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    Sounds like the rav should have leyned. – Noach MiFrankfurt Nov 18 '14 at 4:46
  • Interesting question. I've seen this done, and I'm pretty sure it's fine if the guy reading actually reads, but I'm not sure enough to post an answer ;-) – Shokhet Nov 18 '14 at 16:50
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    The Rabbi can read the type in the Chumash but not in the Torah? – Double AA Nov 18 '14 at 17:46
  • Possible duplicate of Can a chumash be used for a public torah reading? – Alex Jun 26 '18 at 16:07
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Had it been that the one reading out of a chumash reads first, and afterwards the other reads out of the Torah, it should be fine. See Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim siman 141 siff 3.

For clarification, see the Biur Halacha who ends up explaining that the Makrei is the one reading out of a chumash, and the Olah is the one reading the Torah. He starts off by pointing out that we find in hilchos Megila siman 690 that one may not help the chazzan out of a chumash for fear of the listeners listening to the helper and not the reader, and we must therefore assume the makrei in our case is reading out of the Torah and not a chumash. But he then goes on to defend the idea that the makrei is reading out of a chumash by saying he is not reading at the same time as the Olah, and one need not worry about the aforementioned fear.

Your case as clarified is not called a Torah reading and no blessing should be made on it. In fact, if the one standing in front of the open Torah had actually been reading out of the Torah, but for some reason unable to be corrected from mixing up words like Cheilev and chalav, this too is not called a Torah reading according to some. But the Torah should be read anyway without a blessing, see Mishna Berurah siman 142 #7.

  • He doesn't describe anyone reading out of the Torah though. – Double AA Nov 18 '14 at 19:58
  • @Double who doesn't? – user6591 Nov 18 '14 at 20:04
  • The OP. You said "If done as you described where the one reading out of a chumash reads first, and afterwards the other reads out of the Torah, it should be fine." But the OP never described anyone reading out of a Torah. The guy couldn't even read Hebrew. He might be looking at a Torah, but he isn't reading anything. – Double AA Nov 18 '14 at 20:07
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    @DanF ^^^^^^^ wadya say? – user6591 Nov 18 '14 at 20:12
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    (See updates to question.) – Double AA Nov 18 '14 at 21:45
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The Mishna Berura (142:8) describes this practice and recommends it if no one in the shul knows how to lein.

Note that later commentaries on the Mishna Berura (I don't have this in front of me at the moment, so I can't quote the source) clarify that the reader must still look at every word inside the Torah - otherwise it is not considered reading.


Updated based on the question update

As I noted above, if the person who is repeating the words is quite clearly not "reading", that doesn't count. The accepted understanding of the Mishna Berura only covers actually seeing and following the words in the Torah.

  • -1 The Mishna Berura you cite does not describe this practice. Are people upvoting this after reading the source or before? – Double AA Nov 18 '14 at 19:40
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    @DoubleAA I just read it, AFAICT he does. Are we looking at the same Mishna Berura? – Shokhet Nov 18 '14 at 19:41
  • @Shokhet I can't know what you are looking at. The case in the referenced Mishna Berura is where the person is reading out of a Torah and needs help with the notes. Our case is a person parroting sounds while standing in the vicinity of a Sefer Torah. How are those remotely related? – Double AA Nov 18 '14 at 19:43
  • @DoubleAA "no one else in the shul can read from the Torah .... 'while I read from a Chumash with trope, you'll repeat after me and follow along in the Torah'" (from the question) – Shokhet Nov 18 '14 at 19:46
  • @Shokhet "they can't read the Hebrew writing in the Torah" (from the question) "It seems that the 'reader' wasn't actually reading; he was just mimicking what the rabbi was saying and the Torah was there as a prop" (from the question) – Double AA Nov 18 '14 at 19:57

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