Chanting the Torah takes skill and preparation, so traditional synagogues assign someone to chant the weekly biblical portion. Sometimes members take turns, while some synagogues hire a professional. Lion of Zion is one such professional who often writes about the intricacies of the cantillation symbols.
My husband has been chanting, or “leining” as it is known in Yiddish, since before his bar mitzvah. He has prepared every portion at least once and tries to review each week, since he never knows when he will be called on in a pinch.
A few weeks ago he arrived in the synagogue to learn that the neighboring synagogue sought him as a last-minute replacement. My husband declined, as he was scheduled to read in ours. But when the rabbi got up to speak before the Torah reading, my husband decided to check if he was still needed. He asked our son to run and get him as soon as the rabbi finished.
He got to the second synagogue just as they were taking out the Torah scroll. They were glad to see him. I don’t know whether he speeded up his pace or not [he just told me he did], but he returned in time to catch the last twenty minutes of the rabbi’s speech.(*) Fortunately the rabbi has what to say.
(*)Depending on the length of the weekly portion, reading can take 20-40 minutes.