There is a common minhag to read the Simchas Torah reading repeatedly in order that all men get an aliyah, as opposed to the usual five prescribed for Yom Tov (Rema OC 282:1-2).

After mulling over the minhag during Yom Tov, I realized that there are potentially two ways to look at this minhag:

  1. Each set of five aliyos is its own reading, with Chasan Torah and Chasan Bereishis being added aliyos to the final set of five.
  2. It's one long reading, where the first five aliyos are the "main" reading, and the rest are extra aliyos being tacked onto the end of the original set.

I can think of two practical differences between these approaches. Amongst the "main" aliyos, a Kohen gets the first aliyah and a Levi gets the second (Shulchan Aruch OC 135:3). However, a Kohen or Levi is allowed to get an "additional" aliyah that's not one of the main aliyos (Rema, ibid. §10). As such, if the later aliyos are considered "extra" aliyos on the first five, then a Kohen or Levi could get any aliyah after the first five, regardless of whether it's the first/second of its five-aliyah cycle. However, if each set of five aliyos is a new reading, then a Kohen can only get the first aliyah of each set and a Levi the second of each set.

The second practical difference is a bit simpler to articulate: must you complete the set of five aliyos? If they're all extra aliyos, then there would be no issue of ending at any arbitrary point after the first five aliyos; however, if each set is its own reading, then one would have to complete the set of five aliyos, even if it means calling up people twice, as one may not decrease the number of aliyos (Shulchan Aruch, OC 135:1).

The way the Rema records the minhag seems to indicate that the minhag follows the second approach. In OC 282:1, he writes (translation and emphasis mine):

וכן נהגו במדינות אלו מלבד בשמחת תורה שמוסיפין הרבה

And thus is the custom in these countries [not to add aliyos on Yom Tov], except for on Simchas Torah when we add many [aliyos]

Likewise, in §2, he writes:

וכן נהגו במדינות אלו חוץ מבשמחת תורה שנהגו להרבות בקרואים ונוהגים כסברא ראשונה

And thus is the custom in these countries [for later aliyos not to repeat that which earlier aliyos already read], except for on Simchas Torah, when the custom is to add aliyos, where the custom follows the first opinion [that this is permitted].

From his wording of "increasing aliyos," it indicates like the second approach I posited earlier, that the later aliyos are extra aliyos being tacked onto the first five.

I saw later that Ta'amei HaMinhagim §831 quotes the Levush (§669), the Ashel Avraham (§665), and the Pri Megadim (§669), who all, in the contexts of calling a Kohen or Levi, or someone who already received an aliyah, for Chasan Torah/Bereishis, make the same point: the first five are the main reading, and the remainder are extras.

Is there anyone who holds of the first approach I posited earlier, that each set of five aliyos is its own reading?

You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .