How Many Torah Scrolls Do We Use Next Week? Originally published November 30 – December 1, 2018.

If you’ve always wanted the honor of gelilah, next week is a good opportunity!

Next Shabbat is Rosh Hodesh Tevet, coinciding as it often does with Shabbat Hanukkah, one of the few days of the year when we use three Torah scrolls – three sifrei Torah

The parashah next week will be Mikkets, pronounced to sound like “deflates,” or “wie gehts” if you speak German, and not to rhyme with “rickets.”  First we will remove three scrolls from the ark.  Then, from the first scroll we will read six aliyot from Mikkets, comprising Bereshit (Genesis) verses 43:16 through 44:17.  Next we will place the second scroll on the reading table next to the first scroll, and close up the first. 

From the second scroll we will read from Parashat Pinehas, as we usually do for Rosh Hodesh and other special days, because that parashah describes how to attend to the various special days.  We will read one aliyah from the second scroll, Bemidbar (Numbers) verses 28:9-15, and then lay the third scroll next to the second, for the Hatzi Kaddish and Mi Sheberakh (prayer for anyone in need of healing).  Then we close up the second Sefer Torah and open the third.

From the third Sefer Torah we read – as we do each morning of Hanukkah – from Naso, only this day we read less of the parashah.  We read Bemidbar (Numbers) verses 7:42-47, only half as much as on the other days.  This is the maftir aliyah, the aliyah given to the person about to chant the haftarah.  (You will recall from previous columns that the honor of “aliyah” is a calling up to witness the reading of a section of the Torah portion of the day.  There are other honors conferred during services, but no other honor is called an “aliyah.”)

So next week there will be a bit more pomp and circumstance with the three Sifrei Torah, but there will still be seven aliyot plus the maftir aliyah.  No excuse to tell Mom you can’t go to shul because the Torah reading is too long – it simply comes from three different scrolls!

Next week’s column:  What exactly is gelilah?