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The Rosh Chodesh Torah reading comes from the first 14 psukim of Bamidbar 28. These verses are split into 3 sections in the Torah, but we have to split them into 4 aliyot for leining. The three sections are through 8, 10, and 14.

There are various rules about how exactly psukim can be split up, but essentially, each aliyah must be at least 3 psukim, and we shouldn't start or stop within three psukim of a paragraph break. [In case someone comes in and sees that they started 2 after the break, they could assume we read 2 psukim for an aliyah, and vice versa for someone walking out.] See, for example Megilah 22a.

The common way of splitting the 4 aliyot is as follows (inclusive indexing): 1-3, 3-5, 6-10, 11-14. [We go back and read the third pasuk again.] The second aliyah starts at #3, so that seems to be a problem for the people coming in!

There is another opinion (Gra?) that does as follows: 1-3, 4-8, 6-10, 11-14. True, we now end up reading 6-8 twice, but at least we avoid the other problem.

What basis is there for the first method? Why is it the more common one, as opposed to the second?

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The first method is mentioned in Shulchan Aruch (OC 423:2), and the second one is indeed the Gra (ibid.). The first method is more common, probably because, as the Biur Halachah writes (s.v. ולוי) in the name of the Ramban:

אלא שאין ליגע במה שהונהג ע"פ הגאונים וכ"ש בזה שאין במנהג שלהם משום איסור וכבר שנינו אל ישנה אדם מפני המחלוקת

But [we] should not touch that which became the custom based on the [opinion of] the Geonim, and certainly in this [matter], which there is no prohibition in [practicing] their custom, and we already learned, "One should not change because of the [resulting] disagreement".

Additionally, the first method has a repetition of only one pasuk, whereas the second has a repetition of three pesukim. Rema (OC 282:2) writes that the custom is not to repeat pesukim unnecessarily from one aliyah to another (except where it is not possible otherwise --Gra).

Thus, it would seem that the first method would be preferred according to the Rema (and the Gra does not argue with his ruling).

  • I think your very much misreading the Rama. He says we don't give Aliyot that have already read content (unless there's a pressing need when we rely on the opinions who allow it). How many verses are reread is totally irrelevant. You either are relying on the opinion that it's fine or your not. If he wanted to skimp on verses, why not split Deut 33:1-6 into two Aliyot on Simchat Torah? – Double AA Jul 13 '18 at 18:58
  • @DoubleAA See Sha'ar Hatziyun 28. – Ploni Jul 13 '18 at 19:53
  • Not sure what your point is. Does someone hold the number of repeated verses matters (once it's already greater than zero)? The number of new verses matters but it's two either way. – Double AA Jul 13 '18 at 20:08

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