I see some discussion on Trope and the cantillation symbols, but little has been addressed by way of why you lein. I read Deuteronomy 31:29 in Scripture today and it made me wonder, Is it possible that in your heritage Torah has always been sung and that this verse is why Torah leining is taught to your children?

I had always thought the song here referred to only a portion in Deuteronomy. But I saw Deuteronomy 31:29 cited as the reason you copy your own torah scrolls, and it connected Torah leining with this verse in my mind. I imagine, that if Moses turned any portion of it into song you would remember it throughout your generations, song just does that!

Deuteronomy 31:19

וְעַתָּה, כִּתְבוּ לָכֶם אֶת-הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת, וְלַמְּדָהּ אֶת-בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל, שִׂימָהּ בְּפִיהֶם: לְמַעַן תִּהְיֶה-לִּי הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת, לְעֵד--בִּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. ‏

Deuteronomy 31:22

וַיִּכְתֹּב מֹשֶׁה אֶת-הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת, בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא; וַיְלַמְּדָהּ, אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. ‏

I was wondering if this was WHY you lein and why leining Torah is part of preparing your children for bar mitzvah and bat mitzvah--helping them become sons of commandment and and daughters of commandment.

Related question.

  • 1
    The song in that verse is the "Haazinu" song found a couple verses later in Chapter 32. Note especially the last verse in Chapter 31.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 19, 2016 at 14:34
  • 2
    See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Song_of_Moses It's 32:1-43.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 19, 2016 at 14:36
  • 2
    If you'd like to ask what the referent of that verse is (a reasonable question given the evidence you have) you should ask that separately. Better not to clog this question with too many issues.
    – Double AA
    Commented May 19, 2016 at 14:43
  • 1
    A few items - The term "shira" is usually translated as "song". However, it does not necessarily mean using musical notes. What makes something a "shira", generally, is the use of language and form. Usually, there is a "balance form", i.e. verbds used at the beginning of the verse may be used at its end in reverse format. That's one of many forms. 2 - The origin of using cantillation is Masoretic, but it was primarily for grammar. I'm not sure when the requirement of music came in, and that's definitely something I should research. At any rate, this verse is not the source of it AFAIK.
    – DanF
    Commented May 19, 2016 at 14:48
  • 1
    @Sarah Ancient books and stories were always passed down via song. Adding a melody to something always helps people remember it. The same is true from native american cultures, to bedouin cultures, to islam, and to Judaism and ancient Christianity. However, at some point Torah "leining" drifted away from music for the point of memorization, to music for the sake of performance as everyone was able to read books, and books became plentiful
    – Aaron
    Commented May 20, 2016 at 19:02

1 Answer 1


It appears as though Rambam does not cite specific Scriptural references, but in Sanhedrine 29b, the Mitzva for each person to copy Torah for themselves is connected to Deuteronomy 31:19 http://www.yctorah.org/component/option,com_docman/task,doc_download/gid,653/

Your tradition draws upon this verse as the source of the mitzva for each person to copy Torah. Thus it extends the reach of the verse beyond the song of Moses in their understanding or application.
See related Q & A

While it might seem logical that the passage may also have extended in their understanding or application as the origin of Torah leining, this is not what Jewish tradition maintains.

In regards to chanting torah it seems an entirely different passage comes to bear. My Jewish Learning attributes the practice of chanting Torah to Ezra and cites Sanhedrin 99a.

  • the first link is not good can you fix it
    – kouty
    Commented Dec 18, 2016 at 2:55
  • Sorry kouty. I cannot find it. Thank you for pointing this professor ut though. Amd thank you for your edit to the question.
    – user2411
    Commented Jan 15, 2017 at 16:27
  • I've definitely heard that the cantillation comes from tradition passed down from Moshe though. The Gemara on Nedarim 37: is possibly discussing that. And Machzor Vitri Siman 429. However, not based on the verse you mentioned.
    – andrewmh20
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 9:26
  • See also he.wikipedia.org/wiki/…
    – andrewmh20
    Commented Jan 17, 2017 at 9:31

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