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Anything different about the High Holiday Torah readings?

by Rabbi Naftali Silberberg


Library » Torah » Reading of the Torah | Subscribe | What is RSS?


Yes, in fact the High Holiday readings are unique in several ways:

• The melody (trop) used to read the Torah on these days is different than the tune used throughout the year. See What is the origin of the Torah-reading melody (“Trop”)?1

• It is customary to give an Aliyah to the one who blows the Shofar as well as the Musaf cantor. This custom only applies if the aforementioned are volunteering for the job -- not if they are being paid for their services.

In many congregations, it is traditional to auction off the aliyot to the highest bidders
• The inexorable rule of supply and demand certainly applies to the High Holidays. Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur Aliyot are in high demand, but relatively few in number. In many congregations, it is traditional to auction off the aliyot to the highest bidders. The auctioning normally occurs immediately before the Torah reading, and usually offers a few minutes of entertainment -- a nice respite from the somber nature of the services.

• Normal holiday readings consist of five aliyot (plus the Maftir) -- and the same applies to Rosh Hashanah. The Yom Kippur reading has six aliyot (plus maftir). When a holiday falls on Shabbat, the same holiday reading is read, but is divided into seven aliyot. 


  • 1. According to Chabad custom, the special High Holiday Torah reading melody is only used for the reading of the main section of the morning Torah reading. It is not used for the Maftir reading or the mincha Torah reading of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. [On Rosh Hashanah, the Torah is only read at the Mincha service if it falls on Shabbat.]


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Shabbat » Reading of the Torah » Torah Reading
Holidays » Yom Kippur » The Prayers
Holidays » Rosh Hashanah » The Prayers

(pl: Shabbatot). Hebrew word meaning "rest." It is a Biblical commandment to sanctify and rest on Saturday, the seventh day of the week. This commemorates the fact that after creating the world in six days, G-d rested on the seventh.
Torah is G–d’s teaching to man. In general terms, we refer to the Five Books of Moses as “The Torah.” But in truth, all Jewish beliefs and laws are part of the Torah.
Rosh Hashanah
The Jewish New Year. An early autumn two day holiday marking the creation of Adam and Eve. On this day we hear the blasts of the ram's horn and accept G-d's sovereignty upon ourselves and the world. On Rosh Hashanah we pray that G-d should grant us all a sweet New Year.
Yom Kippur
Day of Atonement. This late-autumn high-holiday is the holiest day of the year. We devote this day to repentance and all healthy adults are required to fast.
The horn of a Kosher animal. The Shofar is sounded on the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, and is intended to awaken us to repentance. Also blown to signify the conclusion of the Yom Kippur holiday.
Literally means to rise up. Has two popular meanings: 1. Being called up to the Torah scroll and recite the blessings when the Torah is being read. 2. To emigrate to the Holy Land.
The additional prayer service added (after the morning prayers) on Sabbath, Biblically mandated holidays and the first day of the Jewish month.
Plural form of Aliyah. The honor of being called up to the Torah scroll when the Torah is read is called an aliyah. The Shabbat Torah reading has seven principle aliyot (plus the maftir aliyah).
A short reading from the Torah at the conclusion of the Sabbath morning and holiday Torah readings. The one honored with the maftir aliyah then chants the Haftorah -- the reading from the Prophets.