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In a small community without a learned ba'al koreh, it can be difficult to assemble enough readers to read the entire weekly parsha to a suitable degree of proficiency. Is there any provision in halacha for reading less, provided the entire torah is read over the course of the cycle (which will take more than a year in this case)?

I understand that some have a triennial cycle instead of the annual one (I've heard this said of Israeli communities in particular). I have the impression, perhaps mistaken, that those communities have a received tradition of the triennial cycle; they didn't just do it for expedience. Here I'm asking about a community that would otherwise read the entire parsha and complete the cycle in a year, except that they don't have enough good-enough readers. Short of fixing their ba'al koreh deficiency, what can such a community do?

  • This seems like an answer to your question (perhaps even more of an answer to this question than the one it's posted on) – Daniel Jan 25 '15 at 22:59
  • Also, I'd be interested to see more information about Israeli communities reading a triennial cycle. Do you have a link to look at? Do they follow the triennial cycle that was followed in the Temple, or the modern triennial that is mostly employed in Conservative synagogues where 1/3 of the weekly parsha is read each week, so the Torah is completed in 3 years, but out of order? – Daniel Jan 25 '15 at 23:01
  • @Daniel that answer fits here better than there (where, while useful, it doesn't actually seem to be an answer). I left a comment there suggesting he answer here. I don't know a lot about the Israeli cycle; I've heard that some do it but I don't know which sort it is. – Monica Cellio Jan 25 '15 at 23:04
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I heard from R. Nota Greenblatt, the posek of the South that if the baal korei has trouble reading the whole thing you can further subdivide the parsha, as the original enactment of krias hatorah wasnt to finish it each year.

Related answer.

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A couple of other tweaks (though not the one you're discussing):

  • Divvy up the parsha among many readers -- seven is the floor, not the ceiling. This is huge, instead of exhausting one poor baal kriah week after week.

  • Have someone prompt the baal kriah with what to say -- or even have him pause and someone whispers each verse to him. (Some places have developed hand signals for all the trop -- if you've got the system down, good for you!)

  • Many moons ago, there was a rabbi in a small community who was tasked with the weekly reading, and his short-term memory just wasn't up to the job. His proposal was to put down a plastic transparency sheet (or series of sheets) on top of the Torah scroll, with the trop and vowels on the sheet. (Mind you, it must take a lot of time to make such a plastic!) He asked Rabbi Moshe Dovid Tendler about this, who asked Rabbi Moshe Feinstein -- it wasn't super-ideal, but for the poor guy in a pinch, it was allowable. (The late Rabbi Herschel Schacter, who had managed new-rabbi pulpit placements for many years, heard this and remarked: You've just saved the American rabbinate!)

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    Was 3 documented anywhere? – Shmuel Brin Jan 25 '15 at 23:25
  • @ShmuelBrin not that I know of (maybe it's in the Igros Volume 9?). It's something I was told (reliably), not something I read. – Shalom Jan 26 '15 at 0:56
  • I have to research where I found a comprehensive article that discusses the original triennial system. The one used commonly, now, by Reform and some Conservative shuls is really following the annual system, but reads 1/3 of it each year. If you were Conservative or Reform, technically, you can follow that system. From your question, I assume this is not the case. Correct me if I assumed wrongly. Beyond this, this answer seems the best approach. Divide the parsha among several people. Or, seriously, think of hiring a "professional" Torah Reader. My bias as I am one, myself :-) – DanF Jan 26 '15 at 2:30
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    Continuing - Your problem is becoming somewhat common, I think. Many shuls rely on yeshiva boys to lain. The shuls are trying to save money. Problem is, these boys go away on Shabbaton, go to summer camp, Israel yeshiva, college, move away, etc. and then the shul is stuck scrounging for replacements. I feel that a safer way is for a shul to hire an older married prof. guy who lives on the neighborhood & won't move away to quickly. If your shul can't find one, train someone in the shul to do the job. It's a much smarter long-term move. Don't be myopic to save money. – DanF Jan 26 '15 at 2:36
  • @DanF My question is not "what can a community do if it isn't stringent about halacha?" but "what does the halacha say about leniencies?". Though I see how my final sentence clouds that; oops. – Monica Cellio Jan 27 '15 at 1:10

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