Ask the Rov: If a mistake is found in a sefer Torah, what is the procedure for taking out a new one?
By Rabbi Chaim Hillel Raskin – Rov of Anash in Petach Tikvah
While there are rules of what makes a Torah kosher, rishonim debate whether a kosher Torah is at all necessary for krias haTorah.
In his responsa, the Rambam writes that one may read and recite a bracha on an unkosher Torah. Unlike other mitzvos, where the mitzva object — e.g., tefillin, lulav — is indispensable, here the mitzva is to read publicly, and the kosher sefer Torah is merely for kavod hatzibur.1 However, the Rosh and others disagree and contend that reading from an invalid Torah doesn’t count for krias HaTorah, and one who did must read again from a kosher Torah with all of the brachos. 2
The Mahari bei Rav offers the following compromise: If a mistake is found in the sefer Torah during kriah, one must stop and continue onwards in a kosher sefer Torah. Yet, the reading until that point, along with the oleh’s before- bracha, is counted, and he recites the after-bracha at the conclusion of the reading from the second Torah.3
The Mordechai stipulates that if the mistake is found at a point where stopping isn’t permitted — such as less than three pesukim into the aliya or less than three pesukim remaining in the aliya — one should continue reading from the first Torah until a permissible stopping point.
In practice, the Tzemach Tzedek rules as follows:
If a mistake is found during an aliya, one should end the aliya at the first possible stopping point. The oleh recites the after-bracha, and the Torah is switched before the next aliya. If the mistake was found during the final aliya, one should continue reading until the end of the kriah, and that oleh should read the haftorah (without an additional maftir).4
When there is no other sefer Torah, one should continue the kriah as usual (reading missing words from a chumash if needed). All the olim should recite the brachos, but shvi’i should double up as maftir. If the mistake is in a different chumash than the one being read, one may rely on the Rambam and even take out the sefer Torah to read from when no other sefer Torah is available.5
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From The Weekly Farbrengen by Merkaz Anash