RRT 278-279



What is the basis of the custom not to call two brothers in succession to the Torah? (Asked by Rabbi Fredric Pomerantz, Closter, New Jersey.)


THE SHULCHAN ARUCH (Orah Hayyim 141:6) says plainly: “We may call two brothers in succession,” etc. If the Shulchan Aruch finds it necessary to insist that we may call them in succession, then evidently it is trying to contravene a widespread opposite opinion that we may not call two brothers, etc. Sure enough, the various commentators to the Shulchan Aruch say it is a widespread custom not to call them in succession because of the “evil eye.” So, also, the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (23:13) says plainly that we do not call two brothers to the Torah in succession because of the evil eye.

But this is folk custom, not law. Otherwise the Shulchan Aruch would not have presumed to gainsay it. By the way, the custom may also be based upon an older folk fear against doing anything by pairs, such as drinking two cups in succession, eating two things in quick succession; all this is mentioned in the Talmud in Pesachim 109b. There is also a relevant Midrash. When Jacob sent his sons to Egypt to buy corn, he warned them not to enter by the same door because people would give them the evil eye.