I am working in a Jewish school (it is NOT a halachically oriented school). And I am responsible for running tefillot for 6,7 and 8 grades. At present there are not yet enough students to comprise a minyan. The administration still wants the Torah read on Mondays and Thursdays. Is there any precedent where I can have the Torah read and consider it as Talmud Torah? What would need to omitted from the Torah service?

Please send sources.

Thank you.

Answer:

The best solution is to read from a chumash, and not from a Torah scroll. Barchu and the Berachos are not recited.

If the administration insists on reading from a Torah scroll, there is some room for leniency. However, Barchu and the Berachos before and after the reading should be omitted.

Sources:

The Mishnah (Megillah 23) writes that the reading of the Torah requires a minyan of ten.

Rishonim dispute why this is the case. The Ran, among others, writes that this is because of a rabbinic enactment, whereas the Rambam (Tefillah Chap. 8) writes that it is because reading from the Torah is considered a davar she-bikdusha. According to this (the opinion is cited by the Mishnah Berarah 55:2) it appears that it will be forbidden to read from the Torah without ten men, just as all devarim she-bikdushah.

However, a number of commentaries understand that the reading from the Torah is considered a davar she-bikdushah specifically because of the recitation of Barchu and the blessings before the Torah. This is stated by the Meiri, by the Kesef Mishnah, and by others.

According to this, reading from the Torah without Barchu will not be a problem, even where ten men are not present.

In addition, even if we explain that the very reading from the Torah is considered a davar she-bikdushah, there is certainly no prohibition on learning Torah from a Torah scroll, so that the issue of davar she-bikdushah will only arise where the reader is fulfilling the obligation of others by reading. It is possible that if Barchu and the Berachos are not recited, this is sufficient indication that the reading is not a full Torah reading, and that there is no intention to fulfill the obligation of reading from the Torah.

In spite of this reasoning, the matter is not entirely resolved, so that it is best to avoid the question by reading from a chumash rather than from a Sefer Torah. However, if this is not possible, one can rely on the opinions above and read from a Sefer Torah, provided that Barchu and the Berachos are not recited.

Best wishes.

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