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On Shabbat morning I was leining torah1 when, not long into an aliyah, I started having temporary but ill-timed vision problems that made it difficult to read. As a result I made many mistakes (despite being well-practiced) that had to be corrected, which was embarrassing to me and probably not very pleasant for the kehal. I wondered whether I should abort but was not sure (a) whether that was appropriate or inappropriate or (b) if appropriate, how to implement it correctly. I strongly suspected that stopping mid-aliyah to ask for guidance would be a problem.

I have a question pending with my rabbi for the local ruling, but I am wondering what the general halacha is if something impedes a ba'al koreh during the reading. If he absolutely can't continue then, well, he can't, but what about a case like mine, where it was technically possible to continue (it's not like I fainted or something) but in a very problematic way?

1 For purposes of this question can we please grant that this was a setting where a woman reading torah is ok? I'd rather not get sidetracked by that, and considered asking the question in the third person to obscure that detail. However, I thought it was more important to be able to answer any questions that come up about the nature of the impairment, should that matter.

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    I once saw a case where two ba'alei kriah intentionally split a long aliyah, each reading half with no pause. The rabbi present didn't object. – Scimonster Oct 19 '15 at 15:12
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    @Scimonster, I wonder if it's important, in such cases, for the person making the berachot to be aware ahead of time that he's going to have two agents for his reading. – Isaac Moses Oct 19 '15 at 15:14
  • The printed aliya breaks are (nearly always) not sacrosanct. Just end the aliyah early. – Double AA Oct 19 '15 at 15:51
  • 1st of all - I hope that you are feeling better. As a Torah reader, I want to research this, a bit further. The 3 verse minimum rule, seems to be addressed on some level in the answer. I'm more inclined to think that the combo of a precise reading together with your own health concerns trumps everything else, and, I think you would be allowed to leave the reading immediately and end an aliyah wherever you are - even if you haven't met the 3-verse minimum. If you made a critical mistake in the reading (have to define what "critical" means), you'd have to repeat the verse, anyway. You couldn't! – DanF Oct 19 '15 at 16:46
  • (This comment is based on your link to the Health SE question.) Perhaps try rapidly looking way up, then way down, then way up, then way down. I find that that sometimes helps clear floaters. – msh210 Oct 19 '15 at 18:01
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I have had a similar situation occur. Once, many years ago when I got sick in the middle and another when the doctor who was leining (in a hospital) got an emergency call. In both cases, the leining (since it was after the minimum number of pesukim) was ended at the next pasuk, and the new person took over for the next aliyah. This was because the specified locations are based on rules created by minhag but are not required. If necessary one can stop the aliyah after the minimum three pesukim.

In the case of the hospital, a local chabad rabbi was there and was consulted. However, since it was in the hospital, there was no "official" shul rabbi present.

Note that I am not sure what would happen if only one or two pesukim had been read as I have never seen that case occur. Usually, the first person is able to finish the third pasuk By logic, I would think that the new person could take over, but I would try to avoid that situation if at all possible.

  • What about if it was before 3 psukim were read? – Scimonster Oct 19 '15 at 15:20
  • @Scimonster I am not sure. I would be inclined to say that the new person should start from the end of the second pasuk since the first one or two would have been read correctly and the person called to the aliyah did say the bracha. However, since I have never seen the actual case occur, this is logic only and should be CYLOR. – sabbahillel Oct 19 '15 at 15:31
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    This answer would be more valuable if you could edit in information about how and in what context these decisions were reached. Can you identify the communities you were in? Did the local rabbi direct the switch? If so, can you identify him, and did he explain his reasoning/sources? If not, who made the call, and on what basis? Was there a "gabbai's handbook" available that specified what to do? – Isaac Moses Oct 19 '15 at 15:41
  • "Minhag" is a pretty strong term to use in this context. More like: common convention. – Double AA Oct 19 '15 at 15:52
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    "This was because the specified locations are based on rules created by minhag but are not required. If necessary one can stop the aliyah after the minimum three pesukim." Doesn't it have to be either at a parasha break or more than two p'sukim away from every parasha break? – msh210 Oct 19 '15 at 18:15

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