Refusing an Aliya after being called up

Refusing an Aliya after being called up:

One who is offered to read the Torah and refuses to read it, his days are shortened.[1] One is thus not to refuse an Aliyah once he has been called up.[2] [Some Poskim[3] however rule this only applied in previous times when the Olah would also read the Torah, however today that he simply recites the blessings and another person reads the Torah, this warning does not apply. Other Poskim[4] however rule it applies even today.[5] Practically, one is to be stringent.]

Was not yet called up by name: The above only applies once the person has been called up, however prior to being called, it is permitted for one to leave the Shul between Aliyos, even if he knows that they plan on calling him.[6] Furthermore, this only applies if one was called up by name, while if he was [privately] asked to go up by the Gabaiy, it does not apply and he may refuse the Aliyah.[7] [If, however, he was publicly motioned to go up, then even if his name was not mentioned, he may not refuse.[8]]

Justifiable reasons for refusal:[9] The above prohibition only applies if there is no justifiable reason for refusing the Aliyah. If, however, there is a justifiable reason for why he does not want the Aliyah, then it may be refused.[10] For example, one may refuse the Aliyah for any of the following reasons:

  1. If there is a Halachic problem with him getting an Aliyah, such as his father/brother received the previous Aliyah.[11]
  2. He must make a large donation after receiving the Aliyah and does not have the money to do so and will be publicly shamed.[12]
  3. He does not know how to properly say the blessings and is embarrassed to go up.[13]
  4. He is sick and cannot say the blessing loud enough for others to hear.[14]
  5. He needs to use the bathroom and cannot wait.[15]
  6. He is refusing the Aliyah in order to prevent Machlokes and have someone else take it.[16]
  7. He has a stutter and is embarrassed to say the blessings.[17]
  8. He is a Baal Keri and is stringent to not say any blessings until he immerses in the Mikveh.[18]

Nevertheless, in general, one is not to come up with excuses for refusing the Aliyah and is to push himself as much as possible to receive it once he has been called up.[19]

 

Summary:

One is not to refuse an Aliyah once he has been called up by name or publicly motioned to go up. If, however, there is a justifiable reason for why he does not want the Aliyah, then it may be refused.

Q&A

If one was called up for Maftir and does not know to read the Haftorah, may he refuse the Aliyah?[20]

No. He is to receive the Aliyah, although is to have another read the Haftorah in his place.

 

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[1] Brachos 55a, brought in M”A 53:22; Elya Raba 139:2; Peri Chadash 139:1; P”M 53 A”A 22; Levushei Serud 138; Lev Chaim 3:12 [See there that one time a person was called to the Torah and he ran out and he was later burnt to death within 30 days, as the Torah is called fire]; Toras Chaim Sofer 139:1; Aruch Hashulchan 139:4; M”B 139:1; Kaf Hachaim 139:3; 428:40; Tzitz Eliezer 14:34; It is however omitted from the Rambam, Tur and Michaber/Rama [see Elya Raba and Toras Chaim Sofer ibid for explanations of this omission] See also Levush 428 and M”B 428:19 who omit this

The reason: As the Torah is called our life, and one who refuses it is refusing life. [Brachos ibid]

[2] M”A ibid; P”M ibid; Machatzis Hashekel 53:22; Aruch Hashulchan ibid

[3] Elya Raba ibid in explanation of why this statement of the Gemara was omitted from the Tur/Michaber

[4] Implication of M”A, P”M, and Machatzis Hashekel ibid [See M”A and P”M ibid who write regarding an Olah that he may not refuse the Aliyah, thus implying it refers to all cases, even when the Olah does not read from the Torah, as is the custom today, brought in Rama 140:1 that the Olah does not read.]; Toras Chaim Sofer ibid; Aruch Hashulchan ibid; However from other Poskim ibid it is unclear if they refer even to the Aliyos today or only of the Aliyos back then, when the Olah would read the Torah.

[5] The reason: As one who is called up for an Aliya is considered as if he himself is reading the Torah. [Taz 140:2]

[6] Machatzis Hashekel ibid

[7] Chaim Sheol 1:13; See there that it is for this reason that the Sephardim are accustomed not to call up by name, as if one is called up by name and refuses his life is shortened, Hence, to avoid this from occurring they instituted not to be called up by name

[8] So seems Pashut, as what difference does it make if he was publicly called by name or publicly motioned to go up; See also Chaim Sheol ibid that to avoid this problem the Gabaiy would walk over to the person and privately ask him to go up.

[9] Torah Leshma 95 and 428; See Tzitz Eliezer 14:34; Piskeiy Teshuvos 139:1

[10] The reason: As the danger is only when the person is belittling the Torah, as it is not important in his eyes, however when he does so for a justifiable reason he does not belittle the Torah. [ibid]

[11] Torah Leshma ibid; See Shaareiy Efraim 1:33; M”B 141:18

[12] Torah Leshma ibid

[13] Piskeiy Teshuvos 139:1

[14] Piskeiy Teshuvos 139:1

[15] Piskeiy Teshuvos 139:1

[16] Piskeiy Teshuvos 139:1

[17] Piskeiy Teshuvos 139:1

[18] See Piskeiy Teshuvos 88:1

[19] Tzitz Eliezer ibid, based on M”A ibid who says he should go up even if he has an enemy in the congregation and it is thus a danger for him

[20] Levushei Serud 138

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