For the week ending 16 July 2005 / 9 Tammuz 5765

The "Aliyah Business"

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Question: In the synagogue which I attend on Shabbat it is the custom to call for aliyot to the Torah those who offer the most money to the synagogue fund. This seems rather mercenary to me and I am sometimes tempted to protest against doing business with something so sacred as the Torah. What is the right thing to do?

Answer: The custom of selling aliyot is very widespread and is based on two very solid reasons.

First of all, it is impossible in many synagogues to subsist without the income realized from the sale of aliyot. Perhaps you are not aware of the expense involved in paying for utilities, cleaning and salaries of personnel.

Secondly, a Jew demonstrates how precious the Torah is to him by how much he is willing to spend for the privilege of making blessings on the Torah. The halachic authorities point out that this is particularly important during the Yamim Noraim (High Holy Days) when we are all being judged by Heaven and need all the merits we can gather.

So dont protest, but do your best to outbid all the rest.

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