Given that in the first century, Jewish boys were taught the Torah from ~6 to 10 in the synagogue, was there ever any likelihood of an exceptionally-literate and gifted pupil being selected to read from the Torah Scroll on the sabbath day?

As far as I'm aware, only adults got up to read the scroll. But is there a historical record of any child (even from an apocryphal or legendary source) being given the honor to read?

  • 1
    Why is this tagged christianity?
    – ezra
    Mar 8, 2018 at 23:08
  • @ezra because the question is asking about a story in luke where jesus got haftara, probably trying to prove that jesus was an adult
    – Double AA
    Mar 8, 2018 at 23:26
  • 1
    If it is a question about the mythology of that other religion it would be closed as not being about Judaism. Mar 8, 2018 at 23:37
  • 6
    What's a Moses seat?
    – Heshy
    Mar 8, 2018 at 23:48
  • 2
    "...Adults sat on the Moses-seat and got up to read the scroll, after which they would give a short little homily." How do you know this? Doesn't sound like normal synagogue procedure to me. And what is a Moses-seat? We stand while reading from the Torah.
    – ezra
    Mar 9, 2018 at 1:18

1 Answer 1


According to the mishna in Megila 4:6, a child is allowed to read from the Torah, and so it's safe to assume that it was done sometimes.

קָטָן קוֹרֵא בַּתּוֹרָה וּמְתַרְגֵּם, אֲבָל אֵינוֹ פּוֹרֵס עַל שְׁמַע, וְאֵינוֹ עוֹבֵר לִפְנֵי הַתֵּיבָה, וְאֵינוֹ נוֹשֵׂא אֶת כַּפָּיו.

A minor may read in the Torah [in the synagogue], and act as meturgeman, but may not publicly recite the Shema, nor act as minister at the tebah, nor [if a priest] say [by himself] the blessing of priests.

###on a side note:

The Bartenura says that there are some Geonim who say that a child may only read from the third Aliya and on:

קטן קורא בתורה:. ויש מן הגאונים שאמרו דוקא משלישי ואילך

But not everyone holds like the Mishna Le'halacha

Yachin on Mishnah Megillah says:

קטן קורא בתורה ומתרגם: וקיי"ל דאין הקטן רשאי להיות קורא בצבור עד שיביא ב' שערות. אבל שיהיה בכלל הקרואים, י"א דוקא אחר שלישי רשאי ואנן נוהגין דרק להיות מפטיר מותר [מג"א רפ"ב סק"ו]:

And we established that a child may not read from the Torah, until he has grown two [pubic] hairs. But to be part of the ones called to the Torah, there are those who say that he may do so. But we hold, that he may only be called for Maftir. (Translation is my own)

According to the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, (23:24) a child may not read from the Torah in public:

קטן לא יהיה הקורא, וגם אינו עולה לתורה.

A minor (less than thirteen years old) cannot be the reader and is not called to be an oleh.

  • And if it's Maftir/Haftorah, that's even clearer in the Mishnah.
    – Shalom
    Mar 9, 2018 at 0:22
  • @Shalom I'm not sure I'm following. Can you explain what you mean?
    – aBochur
    Mar 9, 2018 at 0:24
  • Any reason as to why eventually a child was excluded except for maftir? (BTW, I have NEVER seen this done) Does it have anything to do with kavod hatzibur?
    – DanF
    Mar 9, 2018 at 3:10
  • @DanF I've seen it once. I haven't found a reason as to why some say only Maftir can be done, but I remember hearing that it has to do with the fact that maftir is extra to the kriya.
    – aBochur
    Mar 9, 2018 at 3:21
  • @DanF a rebbe of mine said that when he was a child it was done weekly in his shul (ultra orthodox)
    – Hershy S.
    Mar 9, 2018 at 3:47

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