Jan 202018

My cousin in the U.S. is planning a bar mitzvah. He wants to keep the bar mitzvah very low-key, with an aliyah during the Torah reading on Thursday morning, rather than Shabbos. Sounds simple, right? But he has twin boys, and they are kohanim, so when he started laying out plans with the gabbai of the local Chabad shul, he discovered it would be a sticky situation. Who would get the aliyah?

The problem is that a kohen has to be called up for the first aliyah, and cannot receive a non-kohen aliyah, because we are concerned it could lead people to question his kohen status.

I have a friend who I figured would be highly qualified to come up with a viable solution. He is a kohen himself, and he’s also a gabbai and a talmid chacham. But when I ran the question by him, he agreed that it was a sticky situation. The only solution he could come up with was to break the minyan up into two.

Meanwhile the Chabad rabbi consulted with a senior Chabad rabbi, who came up with two solutions. One was the same, breaking up the minyan, and the other option was to hold an all-kohen minyan.

If neither of these options is doable, I think the older twin should get the aliyah and the younger one should do hagbah, if the Torah scroll isn’t too heavy. But if it comes down to that, the father should definitely make sure the younger twin is okay with that plan, keeping in mind that in Sefer Bereishis we find several accounts of major disasters that started from jealousy among brothers.