Torah and Talmud discuss the role of the Levi in the temple. There seems to be no source for the role of the Levi (going up to the Torah second, after the Cohen) in today's Torah service. Where did this come from?

  • lps, welcome to Mi Yodeya, and thanks for bringing your question here! I look forward to seeing you around.
    – Isaac Moses
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 13:47
  • I don't know if this may be related to the answer, but all Cohanim are Levi'im. So, technically, a "Levi" gets two aliyot!
    – DanF
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 14:11

1 Answer 1


It's an explicit Mishna in Gittin 5:8

וְאֵלּוּ דְבָרִים אָמְרוּ מִפְּנֵי דַרְכֵי שָׁלוֹם. כֹּהֵן קוֹרֵא רִאשׁוֹן, וְאַחֲרָיו לֵוִי וְאַחֲרָיו יִשְׂרָאֵל, מִפְּנֵי דַרְכֵי שָׁלוֹם ‏

These were instituted in order to keep things peaceful: The Cohen gets called up to the Torah first, and then the Levi and then the Yisrael.

The Talmud in Gittin 59b finds various hints to the concept of the Levi being second after the Cohen, from verses in the Torah.

מנא הני מילי? ‏
אמר רב מתנה "דאמר קרא {דברים לא-ט} ויכתוב משה את התורה הזאת ויתנה אל הכהנים בני לוי, אטו אנא לא ידענא דכהנים בני לוי נינהו? אלא כהן ברישא והדר לוי". ‏
רבי יצחק נפחא אמר "מהכא {דברים כא-ה} ונגשו הכהנים בני לוי, אטו אנן לא ידעינן דכהנים בני לוי נינהו? אלא כהן ברישא והדר לוי".‏
רב אשי אמר "מהכא {דברי הימים א כג-יג} בני עמרם אהרן ומשה ויבדל אהרן להקדישו קדש קדשים". ‏
ר' חייא בר אבא אמר "מהכא {ויקרא כא-ח} וקדשתו לכל דבר שבקדושה". ‏
תנא דבי רבי ישמעאל "וקדשתו לכל דבר שבקדושה, לפתוח ראשון ולברך ראשון וליטול מנה יפה ראשון.‏

  • When we say "keep things peaceful": in theory we should give the first aliyah to the greatest person in the room and descend from there, but BOY would that make fights! Instead, the sages said to give out the first two by ancestry.
    – Shalom
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 15:04
  • @Shalom I guess there's nothing like yichus!
    – DanF
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 18:26
  • Suggestion, if possible. Link and / or list the Torah locations mentioned. If you can link to a site having English translation (Mamre or Sefaria, etc.) I think that would help other M.Y. readers who want an English reference. G'mar Chatimah Tovah!
    – DanF
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 18:29
  • @DanF if we did it by greatness, we would fight over who's a greater person/scholar. This way, we're saying "we are making zero assessments concerning the personal achievements of anyone in this room. Katz and Levy just happen to be lucky genealogically."
    – Shalom
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 20:40
  • @Shalom I agree with this system. (There's a reason they call these guys in the Gemarah, Chachamim.) Of course, that doesn't help the guy (in the joke) who says that he's willing to pay the rabbi to become a Cohen.
    – DanF
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 20:44

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