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Question: If a person was ill on Shabbos and unable to go to shul to hear Keri’at haTorah, must he have someone read it to him in shul upon his recovery?

Isaac Greenberg



Answer: Rabbi Weiss (in his Minchas Yitzchok) writes: “Now, indeed, Keri’at haTorah is without doubt a rabbinic requirement considering that it exists due to the enactments of Moses and Ezra (as we find in the Gemara, Bava Kamma 82a, and Rambam, Hilchot Tefillah 12:12). However, it is a congregational requirement. As regards to an individual, though, we might say that the necessity of Keri’at haTorah is not comparable to that of tefillah. So it would seem to me.”

He continues: “I have found in the sefer Leket Ha’kemach Ha’chodosh (90:52) that its author also deliberated about this matter but did not reach a definitive conclusion. We might, however, prove from the Mishnah Berurah (Orach Chayim 135:14 and in his commentary Biur Halacha op cit., s.v. ‘ein meivi’in’) that the reason we do not bring a Sefer Torah to prisoners is because we say that the obligation to hear Keri’at haTorah, according to the letter of the law, is not incumbent on the individual when matters beyond his control prevent him from going to shul.”

The Mishnah Berurah in his Biur Halacha commentary states as follows: “It also seems evident that when someone is absolved from any obligation to go to shul, it follows that is he absolved of any need to organize a minyan to come to him in prison, even if doing so entails little or no effort. Only when there is already a minyan of prisoners are we to bring them a Sefer Torah.”

(A side note: We know that it is common practice nowadays to bring a Sefer Torah to a house of mourners. However, we only do so because in most instances there is a specific Sefer Torah designated for that purpose. Furthermore, and perhaps more importantly, a minyan specifically assembles in a house of mourners, not only to console them, but to assure that they are able to recite the Mourner’s Kaddish on behalf of the departed soul. Rabbi Yechiel Michel Tukaccinsky [Gesher Ha’Chayyim Vol II. 8:3] maintains that we would not bring a Sefer Torah to a mourner’s home if the minyan consists entirely, or even mostly, of mourners. Such a minyan need not hear Keri’at haTorah.)

Concerning tefillah b’tzibbur, the Mechaber (Orach Chayim 90:9) states: “If due to matters beyond a person’s control he is prevented from joining the congregational prayer, he should align his tefillah with that of the congregation and pray at the very same time they pray.” The Magen Avraham adds: “This leniency only applies if gathering a minyan entails a measure of difficulty; otherwise we always opt for strictness in regards to tefillah b’tzibbur.”

We thus see that when confronted with a choice between the tefillah b’tzibbur and Keri’at haTorah, we should opt for the former.

(To be continued)


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Rabbi Yaakov Klass is Rav of K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush; Torah Editor of The Jewish Press; and Presidium Chairman, Rabbinical Alliance of America/Igud HaRabbonim.