Question Should the person who gets an aliyah to the Torah also layn (read from the Torah)? Answer
1. Hazal intended that the person called to the Tora recites the b'rakha and reads from the Tora. All Rishonim acknowledge this fact (see Rambam, for example) which is beyond any doubt or discussion. Most Jewish communities, with the exception of the Temanim, no longer act in this manner. The reason given is so as not to embarrass someone who cannot read himself. This is not the common practice in most minyanim, but this is indeed the practice at Beth Midrash Machon Shilo's Nusah Eress Yisrael minyan.
2. Rav Sa'adhya Gaon, Rambam z'l and other authorities who relate only to the original and correct practice do not indicate what one should do where things are done differently. I am unaware of even a single Rishon who suggests that one should not accept an aliya where things are done as is common today.
3. One may and should answer amen to the b'rakha of someone called to the Tora who does not himself read. One may be called to the Tora even if one will not be able to read. I do not recommend turning an aliya down for this reason.
4. It is not logical that the person getting an aliyah should make the bracha for another person to read. We can and should strive to make people aware of these facts. Perhaps, one day, some people will be willing to give Hazal's way a try. It all depends on whether people are motivated and interested in grappling with the issue.
Rabbi David Bar-Hayim
Tuesday, 16 December 2008