When one is called to the Torah he must proceed immediately to the bima in the most direct way. One should not run, as it is considered disrespectful to the tzibur and torah to run in a Beit Knesset, rather he should walk quickly and not get distracted on way to the bima. If two directions are of equal distance then one should proceed from the route to his right. These halachot are meant to show respect and love to the torah, without causing any unnecessary bother to the tzibur.
Before the portion of the Torah is read the reader points to the first words to be read in order to focus the brachot of the Oleh (he who was called up to the torah) on the section which will be read. When the opening words of the section about to be read have been identified the Oleh must say “Barchu” in a clear and loud voice so that the tzibur can hear him. The purpose of the “Barchu” is to include all those present in the blessing of the Torah. Any member of the tzibur who does not hear the Oleh say “Barchu” should not reply “Baruch hashem hamevorach” even if he hears others respond. In such an event he may include himself in the Barchu by answering Amen to their response.
After saying “Barchu” the Oleh recites the blessing of Asher Bachar Banu. This blessing should also be said clearly and loudly. If the “Barchu” could not be heard it should be repeated, where as the blessing is not repeated even if it was said silently.
The Brayta in Megilah 32a presents a dispute between Rabi Meir and Rabi Yehudah whether the Torah should be closed when saying the blessing or not. The explanation given in the Gemarah is that the opinion requiring the Torah be closed sees this in the same light as having the reader say the Targum (a translation of the torah into Aramaic, which accompanied the reading of the torah at the time of the Tanaim). The reader may not say the Targum so that no one will be misled to conclude that the Targum is written in the Torah. Similarly the Oleh should close the Torah so that no one make the mistake of thinking he is reading the berachot from the Torah. On the other hand the opposing opinion feels that while people may think the Targum is written in the torah, no one would think the blessing is written in the torah. The poskim agree that there is no requirement to close the Torah but differ whether the Oleh is permitted to do so. Therefore each person or community may follow their own custom.
In our previous section we spoke about how one must approach the bimah when called to the Torah and how the opening bracha should be said. Let us proceed this time from that point in understanding the proper conduct of the Oleh La-Torah.
While reciting the Bracha proceeding the reading of the torah one should hold the sefer torah. This Halacha is associated to the pasuk “Lo yamush sefer hatorah ha-ze mi-picha”. Lo yamush means one should not be separated from the Torah. Though the pasuk does not mean a physical separation, holding the Torah is indicative of the aspiration not to be separated from Torah.
The Tur (oc\139) found a source for this Halacha in an interesting context. The Gemarah Sucah (41a) tells us that the people of Yerushalayim had a custom to hold their Lulav and Etrog during the entire tefilah. The only time they would put down their Lulavim was during Birkat Cohanim (for the Cohanim) and while reading the Torah. Explains the Tur, that since they needed to put down the Lulav it is clear they needed their hands to hold the sefer torah. When the Torah is read the Oleh should hold one of the handles (eitz chayim) of the sefer while the Baal Koreh holds the other. At the conclusion of the reading the Oleh should take hold of both handles to recite the concluding beracha. [With a Sfardi sefer Torah one would hold the round box containing the scroll of the torah.]
During the reading of the torah portion the Oleh should read quietly along with the Baal Koreh. Yet, he must be careful to keep his voice down so as not to disturb those listening to the reading of the Torah.
After the conclusion of the reading, the Oleh recites the bracha of Asher Natan Lanu Torat Emet. While reciting this bracha, the Sefer Torah should be closed. We distinguish between the first and last beracha [in reference to closing the Torah] as during the first beracha the delay caused by the opening and closing of the sefer constitutes a burden to the tzibur. Since, calling the next Oleh, during which the sefer must be covered, follows the later beracha, closing the sefer constitutes no particular inconvenience to the tzibur. At the conclusion of the Aliya, the Oleh should take the longer route proceeding without haste in the opposite direction from which he came. This Halacha is meant to show respect for the Torah and a hesitation to part with the Sefer Torah.