537. Reading the Curses Quietly

78:4 We do not make a break while reading the curses in parshas Bechukosai and in parshas Ki Savo. We must start the reading one verse before the curses begin; since we don’t start a section with fewer than three verses, that means that we start reading three verses before the curses. We also need to read at least one verse after the curses, but we must make sure to finish with not less than three verses to the start of the next section. In parshas Ki Sisa, we read the entire section of the golden calf for the Levi, up to “his attendant, Yehoshua” (Exodus 33:11). We do this because the Tribe of Levi was not involved in the incident of the golden calf. The practice is to read in a soft voice from “He gave Moshe” (31:18) until “Moshe pleaded” (32:11). We resume reading normally from “Moshe pleaded” until “Moshe turned and descended” (32:15). We go back to reading softly from “Moshe turned” until “Moshe would take” (33:7). We then resume reading in a normal tone of voice until the end of the parsha. The curses in Bechukosai and Ki Savo are likewise read softly. The verse “I will remember My covenant with Yaakov” (in Bechukosai, Leviticus 26:42) is read in a normal voice but the following verse, “the land will also be forsaken” (26:43) is read softly. From “despite all that” (26:44) until the end of the parsha is read in normally. In the parshas Ki Savo, we read the verse “so that you may fear the honored Name” (Deuteronomy 28:58) in a normal voice, then quietly through “and no one will buy you” (28:68). In parshas Beha’aloscha, it is customary to read quietly from “the people were like murmerers” (Numbers 11:1) until “the manna was like coriander seed” (11:7), which shows that the people regretted their misdeeds. Everything that is read softly must nevertheless be read loud enough for the congregation to hear. If it is not loud enough to hear, the people will not fulfill their obligation to hear the Torah read. A break should not be made when reading the 42 journeys in parshas Masei as these correspond to G-d’s 42-letter Name.

78:5 The Torah scroll must be rolled closed in between aliyos but it need not be covered. However, it should be covered with its mantle before Maftir because then Kaddish is recited and that’s a long interruption. Similarly, the Torah should be covered whenever there is a long interruption, like when songs are sung for a groom at his aufruf. This would seem to be the case also when the “mi shebeirach” prayer is lengthy.

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