I'm mentioning 3 scenarios that may occur during public Torah reading.

1 - The only Cohen in the shul is in the middle of the silent Amidah. Should you wait for him to finish, and if so, how long? Or is any waiting, even 20 seconds considered torach tzibbur? If you don't wait, should you call a Levi or Yisra'el?

2 - The Cohen had his aliyah, the only Levi is in the middle of Amidah. Should the Cohen take the Levi Aliyah or should cong. wait for the Levi?

3 - The only Yisra'el in shul is in the middle of Amidah. AFAIK, a Cohen or Levi cannot take a Yisra'el aliyah. But waitig for the Yisra'el to finish might be torach tzibbur (say he's at the beginning). Do we still have to wait for him, or is there an exception to use a Cohen or Levi to sub for him?

  • If there's no Cohen, a Yisra'el may take his place. Thus, questions 1 & 3 are essentially the same.
    – user9643
    Apr 25, 2017 at 20:59
  • @Ploni Actually, 1 and 3 are NOT the same. In 1, technically, there is no Cohen, and, yes, Yisra'el can replace him. The question is if we should wait, anyway. Also, a Levi is available. Q 3 says that a Yisra'el is NOT available. Where do you see the similarity?
    – DanF
    Apr 25, 2017 at 21:03
  • they're both in the middle of the the Amidah, rendering them temporarily unavailable. The question is must the congregation wait for them to become available.
    – user9643
    Apr 25, 2017 at 21:07
  • @Ploni But it's still possible to argue that in 1 you don't have to wait for the Kohen while in 3 you have to wait for the Yisrael, because although you can have a Yisrael sub for a Kohen you can't have a Kohen sub for a Yisrael. And vice versa - in 1 you might have to wait because he is there and it's denigrating him to call up a Levi or Yisrael instead, while in 3 you might be able to move ahead because of the kavod of the tzibbur.
    – DonielF
    Apr 25, 2017 at 23:40
  • @DonielF Re your first point: I recall learning that in a minyan with only Kohanim they can get any aliyah. So whatever logic will apply in case one will be the same logic in case 3. Re your second point: regarding case 1 it says clearly in Shulchan Aruch that it's not a problem of denigrading him because everyone can see he's davening.
    – user9643
    Apr 25, 2017 at 23:53

1 Answer 1


To answer question 1:

Magen Avraham writes that they should not wait for the Kohen because of tirchah di'tzibbura (135:6) or because of the honor of the congregation (135:7).

If you don't wait, should you call a Levi or Yisra'el?

Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (23:10) writes that a Levi or Yisrael may be called in his place.

To answer question 2:

Once again there's an issue of tirchah di'tzibbura if they were to wait, so it would seem that the Kohen should take his place.

To answer question 3:

As above, there's the issue of tirchah di'tzibbura if they were to wait, so practically it should be considered that he's not there.

Regarding a city (or a shul) which inhabited entirely by Kohanim, Shulchan Aruch (135:12) writes:

עִיר שֶׁכֻּלָּהּ כֹּהֲנִים ... אוֹ שֶׁאֵין שָׁם יִשְׂרָאֵל כְּלָל, קוֹרֵא כֹּהֵן אַחַר כֹּהֵן, שֶׁאֵין שָׁם מִשּׁוּם פְּגָם, שֶׁהַכֹּל יוֹדְעִים שֶׁאֵין שָׁם אֶלָּא כֹּהֲנִים...‏

A city which is [inhabited] entirely by Kohanim ... or there is no Yisrael there at all, they call one Kohen after another, because there is no issue of pegam, since everyone knows that there are only Kohanim present...

If there are both Kohanim and Levi'im present, Mishnah Berurah (135:45) writes that they should alternate between the Kohanim and the Levi'im.

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