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Halacha Weekly ~ Parshas Korach: The Aliyah of the Levi when there is no Kohen

Halacha Weekly ~ Parshas Korach: The Aliyah of the Levi when there is no Kohen

07-05-2019

“וידבר אל קרח ואל כל עדתו לאמר בקר וידע ה’ את אשר לו ואת הקדוש והקריב אליו ואת אשר יבחר בו יקריב אליו” (ט”ז,ו’)

Rashi says “בקר וידע ה’ את אשר לו” – לעבודת לויה, “ואת הקדוש” – לכהונה, “והקריב” – אותם אליו.  The meforshim try to understand from where we see that Korach also disagreed with the separation of the לויים.  The Maharal explains that the יחוס וקדושה of the לויים is dependent on that of the כהנים.

The Gemara in Gittin (נט:) discusses the order to call people up to the Torah.  First the Kohen, then the Levi, then the Yisroel.  אביי says נקטינן אין שם כהן נתפרדה החבילה – if there is no Kohen to be called up then the bundle is unraveled.  There are three שיטות in the Rishonim how to understand “נתפרדה החבילה”. Rashi brings two approaches.  In the first explanation, Rashi says נפסק הקשר – איבד הלוי את כבודו בשביל חבילתו הנפרדת ואינו קורא כלל – most meforshim הר”ן בסוף) מגילה,דרכי משה בשם האגור,ב”ח,ט”ז,פר”ח)  understand this to mean that when there is no Kohen, the Levi is not called up at all.

The ערוך השלחן explains that I would think to say that since the Kohen goes before the Levi and the Levi before the Yisroel, even when there is no Kohen the Levi should still go before the Yisroel.  On this the Gemara says נתפרדה החבילה, that the Torah only gave קדימה when there is a Kohen.  When there is no Kohen, the יחוס of the Levi doesn’t obligate him to go before the Yisroel.  This can be learned from the passuk “הכהנים בני לוי” (דברים כ”א,ה’) that they only have a דין קדימה as a Levi when there is a Kohen.  We also can’t call him up after the Yisroel because at the end of the day he has more kedusha than a Yisroel.  We also don’t want to call him up first, in place of the Kohen, because people will think you are obligated to do so, therefore the Levi doesn’t get an aliyah at all.

The second explanation of Rashi says שאין סדר לדבר להקדים לוי לישראל ומי שירצה יקדים” – the Levi and Yisroel can be called up in any order.  The ערוך השלחן explains this opinion that the Torah only gave קדושה to the Levi when there is a Kohen.  If there is no Kohen then the Levi and the Yisroel are equal and can be called up in any order just like two Yisroelim.

The third opinion is that of the רא”ש, that the Yisroel can only be called up before the Levi if he is greater.  However if the Levi is greater or they are both equal, then the Levi is called up first.  The ערוך השלחן explains this opinion that the Levi has more קדושה than the Yisroel even if there is no Kohen as the passuk says “בעת ההיא הבדיל את שבט הלוי” – they are קדוש by themselves.  That is why when they are equal in greatness the Levi goes first.  However it is not the same מעלה like a Kohen who is called up first even if the Yisroel is greater than him.

The מחבר (סימן קל”ה סעיף ו’) writes דאם אין כהן בבית הכנסת קורא ישראל במקום כהן ולא יעלה אחריו לוי.  The רמ”א adds אבל ראשון יוכל לעלות – the Levi can be called up first.  It seems that the opinion of the מחבר is the first שיטה of Rashi that the Levi doesn’t get called up at all. The רמ”א is like the שיטת הרא”ש that the Levi is called up first. The ערוך השלחן rules like the רמ”א that the Levi is called up first.  Some Poskim are of the opinion that even the מחבר agrees to the רמ”א.   If this is the שיטת הרא”ש then this only applies if they are at least equal, but if the Yisroel is greater than he is called up first.  The מנהג though is not to call up the Levi after the Yisroel.  In regard to this, we go like the first שיטה.

The מור וקציעה paskens that the Levi should not be called up first when there is no Kohen.  על פי קבלה Kohen, Levi, Yisroel correspond with חסד גבורה ותפארת, the laining should not start with מדת הגבורה.  However להלכה we pasken that a Levi can be called up first, but there is no חיוב to do so.

The אור לציון says that the מנהג הספרדים is that a Levi can be called to the Torah first when there is no Kohen.  As we mentioned before, the מחבר may also agree to this.  The כף החיים rules that שב ואל תעשה עדיף and the Levi should not be called first.  הג”ר משה אריה פריינד זצ”ל was מקפיד that the Levi is not called up first.  However if the Levi is a חיוב then the יביע אומר says that even according to the מחמירים he should be called up first otherwise he won’t be able to get an aliyah afterwards.[1]

Prepared by R’ Avrohom Yehoshua Ziskind

[1] Sources:ערוך השלחן,פסקי תשובות,הקריאה בתורה והלכותיה,חבצלת השרון

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