Elie's Expositions

A bereaved father blogging for catharsis... and for distraction. Accordingly, you'll see a diverse set of topics and posts here, from the affecting to the analytical to the absurd. Something for everyone, but all, at the core, meeting a personal need.

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Friday, October 13, 2006

End/Beginning of Torah Cycle Trivia

In honor of upcoming holiday of Simchas Torah (one of those newfangled inventions, but kind of fun for us traditionalists anyway), here's a new trivia question relating to laining [torah reading], as well as a couple of reruns:

1) In most shuls, it is now customary to read the first portions of the Simchas Torah laining, parshas V'Zos Haberacha, over and over again, so that every adult male (and in some places, boys as well) can be given an individual aliyah. Of course, this is not universal and certainly not mandatory - nor is the custom of laining Simchas Hatorah night - so "officially", the parsha of V'zos Haberacha is read just once a year, on Simchas Torah day. However, there are exactly two sections of the Torah that are read more than ten times each Jewish year. What are these? Answer after the holiday.

2) And then there is the first aliyah of Parshas Shmini, whose name means "eighth". And in fact, in some years that first portion of Shmini is actually read exactly eight times. How is this possible? Answer here, comment #2.

3) How many parshas are read more than 50% on days other than their regular Shabbos, and which parsha(s) - not counting V'zos Haberacha of course, which is entirely read on Simchas Torah - has/have the highest percentage read on non-Shabbos days? Answer here, item #1.

Have a good yom tov!

And for you litvaks out there, try not to freeze in your sukkahs tonight!


At 10/13/06, 12:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Answer to #1:

Rosh Chodesh Laining (at least 11 times [not counting RC Tishrei] and when Pinchas is read).

Laining for Ta'anis Tzibur:
Lained twice on fast days (excluding Yom Kippur), plus when KiSisa is read (and portions of it are also read on Shabbos Chol HaMoel.

(NB: I've been a ba'al kriah every week for the last 18 1/2 years, so I may have had an unfair advantage).

The Wolf

At 10/13/06, 2:44 PM, Blogger Knighted Vorpal Sword said...

Not happy about this sukkah thing tonight. If S"A is supposed to be a seperate chag, then why do we still use the sukkah. What's almost as bad as freezing tonight is the specter of an awfully long davening tomorrow - Hallel, Kohelet, Yizkor, Geshem, and 7 aliyot instead of 5.

At 10/13/06, 3:26 PM, Blogger Elie said...

Brooklyn Wolf: Correct - that was quick! To be exact:

- The Rosh Chodesh laining is read between 17 and 21 times a year, as follows. There are no fewer than 16 and no more than 20 days of Rosh Chodesh each year, depending on whether the year is chaser or maleh and whether it's a leap year. Of course all these lainings occur whether Rosh Chodesh is a weekday or Shabbos - in the latter case the reading is as maftir. The 17th/21st time is when parshas Pinchas is read.

- The Yud Gimmel midos section from parshas Ki Sissa is read 11 or 12 times a year, as follows. It's read nine times on fast days - once at Tisha B'Av mincha, and twice each (shacharis and mincha) on the four minor fasts. Then it's read once on chol hamoed Pesach - whether Shabbos or not - and once of course when parshas Ki Sissa is read. That makes 11; the 12th possible time is Shabbos chol hamoed Sukkos, which doesn't occur every year - e.g., it didn't this year!

At 10/13/06, 3:31 PM, Blogger Elie said...


Agree completely. The reason my father Z'L always gave for our not eating in the sukkah on SA night is that "Shmini Chag HaAtzeres HaZeh" is said in the kiddush at night, and it would be contradictory to make such a kiddush in the sukkah. Which is why, in this minhag, the daytime kiddush, which doesn't mention the specific holiday, is made in the sukkah, as a way of saying goodbye to it.

I'm always very happy when it rains on SA night - then I know all of us are following the same minhag... for at least that one year!

Anyway, when you make aliyah (as per your own blog) you won't need to worry about sukkah on Shmini Atzeres. Or you could just adopt the chassidish custom now! ;-)

At 10/16/06, 3:13 PM, Blogger Jack's Shack said...

I am a happy Litvak. It is relatively warm out here in LA.

At 10/16/06, 3:27 PM, Blogger Elie said...

Jack: Weather aside, everyone should follow their family minhag on this one. Glad that in your case, it's pleasant to do so! But maybe my closing line about litvaks freezing on SA night was a bit too flippant. After all, I was happy to sit in the sukkah for the previous seven days of Sukkos proper, despite our blustery NJ weather. Us real men like eating in the cold!


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