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Rabbi's Blog

rabbi 05 smallsf badge lgRabbi Joel Landau  (rabbi@adathisraelsf.org) has been the Rabbi of Adath Israel since May 2013. He was ordained by the Chief Rabbinate in Jerusalem and has served previously as a congregational Rabbi in Charleston, South Carolina and Irvine, California. A full biography of Rabbi Landau is available here.


This coming Shabbat we seemingly are going to have a first in the history of Congregation Adath Israel of San Francisco. A nine year old boy is going to receive the aliyah of Maftir, which he is going to read and then he will lein the Haftorah. This information has raised a few eye brows. Some people have asked “is this some sort of Landau shtick? Is it really kosher? Therefore, I share with you a translation of Chapter 79:9 of the  Kitzur (abridged) Shulchan Aruch regarding  The Recitation of Maftir: “A minor who has reached the age of "Chinuch" (that is, the age at which his parents begin to train him to perform Mitzvot (1), and he knows to whom the blessings are directed, and how to pronounce the letters correctly - may receive the Aliyah of Maftir, except for the portions "Zachor" and "Parah" (2). It is customary, however, that a minor not be given Maftir on Shabbat "Shuvah" (3) and on the Seventh day of Pesach, when [David's] song [of praise] is recited as the Haftorah (4). Similarly, on the first day of Shavuot, when Ezekiel's vision of the Divine chariot is read as the Haftorah (Ezekiel 1:1-28 and 3:12), an adult who is a Torah sage is called for Maftir. On Shabbat "Chazon", it is customary to call the Rabbi as Maftir (5)”.

FOOTNOTES:

(1) Generally, the age at which a child is introduced to a particular Mitzvah depends on both the child's level of maturity and the type of Mitzvah he or she is to perform.

(2) Parshat "Zachor" (Deut 25:17-19) is read as the Maftir on the Shabbat before Purim in order to remember what the nation of Amalek did to us; this serves as a fitting prelude to the holiday of Purim which celebrates the saving of the Jews from the plot of Haman the Amalekite.

Parshas "Parah" (Numbers 19:1-22) is read as the Maftir on the second last Shabbos in the month of Adar. The portion deals with the process of purification from the impurity contracted from a human corpse, using the ashes of the "Parah Adumah" ("Red Cow").

The obligation to read Parashat"Zachor" is Biblical in origin, and there are those who hold that Parashat Parah is also a Biblical obligation (Taz 282:13) - therefore a minor cannot read them because he cannot fulfill the obligation on behalf of the congregation.

(3) The Shabbat between Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is called "Shabbat Shuvah" because the Haftorah for that week begins with the word "Shuvah" (Hoshea 14:2-10). It is a call to the Jews to repent and therefore is read during the "Ten days of Repentance." A minor is not called to read this Haftarah because it would be humiliating to the congregation for a minor to admonish them.

(4) David sings a song of praise to Hashem for delivering him from the hands of all his enemies (II Samuel 22:1-55).

(5) On the Shabbos before the fast of the 9th of Av, we read the vision ("Chazon") of Isaiah (1:1-27); it consists mainly of criticism of the behavior of the Jews, and therefore, like Shabbat Shuvah, it would be inappropriate for a minor to read it.