Learn the Torah Blessings for an Aliyah
Have you been chosen to recite the blessings before and after the reading of the Torah? Perhaps you are a close family member or friend of a Bar/Bat Mitzvah boy or girl? Or maybe you are being honored at the high holidays for your contribution to synagogue over the past year? Whatever the case may be, it is a huge honor to be invited up to the bima for an Aliyah and recite the Torah Blessings.
The blessings before and after the Torah reading are easy to learn because the words are generally quite simple and there is a lot of repetition. However, the Torah Blessings do like to try to trip you up and can be successful at doing so. Let’s go over the 3 times the Torah Blessings try to get you to make a common mistake, so you won’t be that person who messes up while chanting.
1. Barchu vs Baruch
The first line of the Blessing before the Torah reading starts with Barchu not Baruch. Make sure to take note of this as you learn. You will say Baruch in every other instance, but you don’t want to get flustered at the start by pronouncing the first word of the Blessing before the Torah reading incorrectly.
2. Bachar vs Natan
You can pretty much guarantee someone given the honor of reciting the Torah blessings will mess this one up, so don’t let it be you! During the blessing before the reading of the Torah, you say “Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha’olam” and then recite the next line, “Asher BACHAR Banu.” I have Bachar underlined in red above so you can see exactly what I mean. Keep in mind that during the blessing Before the reading, you say Bachar. A little “B” alliteration for you.
After the Aliyah has been read, you will continue to recite the blessing after the Torah reading. Once again, you will begin with “Baruch Atah Adonai Eloheinu Melech Ha’olam,” but instead of saying Asher Bachar Banu, you say Asher NATAN Lanu. This is also noted in the above image as natan is underlined in red.
A lot of people go on autopilot and accidentally start to sing the before part of the blessings because the beginnings are the same for both. Just remember that alphabetically, the b in bachar comes before the n in natan, so you say Asher Bachar Banu before the Aliyah is read and Asher Natan Lanu after the Aliyah is read.
3. Atah vs. no Atah
You will have a chance to hear the congregation say it first, so don’t be surprised when you repeat the next line and there is no “atah” between Baruch and Adonai. Once again, autopilot kicks in; we are all so used to saying Baruch Atah Adonai. If you aren’t actively reading or thinking about the fact that this particular line reads Baruch Adonai Ham’vorach L’olam Vaed, you just might find yourself a beat behind everyone else when you accidentally say Adonai and the rest of the group is onto the word, Ham’vorach.
You can go ahead and download the Torah Blessings with its transliteration from the link above and you will be able to print out a copy of the Aliyah prayer in its entirety. I would suggest taking a pencil and marking your printed version of the blessings before and after Torah reading with the common mistakes just as I did above.
You can use the audio below to listen and learn how to chant the blessings. Remember that lines two and three are sung by the congregation and you will repeat what the congregation says in lines four and five before continuing on with the rest of the blessing before the reading of the Torah.
Are you looking to learn more blessings and prayers? You can listen to audio recordings and view the Hebrew text for Bar and Bat Mitzvah prayers.