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When we call up a Kohen (or when not present, a Levi or Yisrael) we use a special formula: ויעזר on Shabbat and yom tov (Shacharit) and ותיגלה on weekdays (and Minchah). In it, we request that the Kohen comes closer (relevant portion quoted from here):

כּהֵן קְרָב יַעֲמד (פלוני ב' פלוני) הַכּהֵן. בָּרוּךְ שֶׁנָּתַן תּורָה לְעַמּו יִשרָאֵל בִּקְדֻשָּׁתו:‏

Why do we ask the Kohen to come closer קרב but subsequent 'aliyot do not have such formulations?

  • Also, if there's no Kohen, the formula is אין כאן כהן יעמד פלוני בן פלוני לוי/ישראל במקום כהן. So קרב is not even specific to the Aliyah so much as the Kohen.
    – DonielF
    Dec 27, 2016 at 15:28
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    @DonielF, I didn't realise. Since I'm a Kohen, I don't hear that variant. Dec 27, 2016 at 15:31
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    Apparently, there is something specific to the 1st aliyah, which is normally given to the Cohen. All the other aliyot, have someone else (the previous oleh) standing on the side. There may be a concept of having 3 people on the bimah - previous oleh, gabbai and Ba'al Kri'ah - to symbolize a court. So, saying "approach" to the Cogen, may be a formality of invitation like "approach the court", as there are only 2 on the bimah (Gabbai and Ba'al Kri'ah), now. This is my surmisal. I have to research further, but, honestly, I'm not sure where to look to answer this one! Great question.
    – DanF
    Dec 27, 2016 at 22:35
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    Can you specify what Nusach this is? Do all nuschaot use this formulation?
    – Double AA
    Dec 28, 2016 at 14:20
  • Another thought - I think the bimah is similar to an altar. While Torah reading is not, per se, a substitute for sacrifices, tefillah (prayer) is. And the Torah reading is part of the overall prayer service. We know that Cohanim are the ones that place the sacrifices on the altar. So, perhaps the language is similar to "Cohen - approach the altar with the sacrifice."
    – DanF
    Dec 28, 2016 at 15:55

2 Answers 2


Areshes Sfasainu - Volume 3 - page 251 says that saying Kohain Kerav is based on the verse of Moshe telling Aharon to come near to the Mizbaiach.

ויאמר משה אל אהרן קרב אל המזבח

He gives other examples of how the word Kerav is connected with Kohanim.


I once heard a gabbai in a shul announce "kohen k'rav" then look around for a kohein to step forward, then he said "yaamod ..", It looked weird when he did it, but I think he's actually right. "kohein k'rav" is basically asking for a kohein to step forward, while by other aliyos the gabbai gets to choose etc. (I'm not sure why we don't say "levi k'rav" though..)

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