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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Obligation to Review the Weekly Parsha


The Gemara1 relates: Rav Huna the son of Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rebbe Yonah who said in the name of Rebbe Ami: One should always finish the Parsha with the congregation, reading the text (Mikra) twice and the Targum once, and even “Atros and “Divon”. And one who finishes the Parsha with the congregation, his days and years will be extended. 

Atros and Divon are names of cities2 . Rashi explains their significance is that they have no Targum. Hence the Gemara is telling us that even words which have no Targum must be recited three times.  

The Rosh3 asks: if the only significance is that they have no Targum, why couldn’t we just say Reuvain and Shimon? Answers the Rosh, Atros and Divon have a Targum Yerushalmi and in some editions have Targum as well, so since there is an aspect of translation you need to have the Targum. However Reuvain and Shimon and other name that have no Targum at all would not have to be read three times. This is also the opinion of Rabbeinu Yonah. However, the Rosh concludes, the custom is like Rashi and therefore
we have to read everything three times.

What – Rashi vs. Targum 

The Rosh and Tosfos quote an opinion that any translation works, it doesn’t have to be Targum. They argue however and say that the Targum is more than a translation; it also explains things that would not be understood from the Torah itself. However if one learns Rashi then he would not need to say the Targum.  The Beis Yosef 4quotes the Smag in the name of the Gaonim as saying that even so one should say the Targum because it was given on Sinai5 . The Beis Yosef concludes that a
G-d fearing person should say both the Targum and Rashi and in the Shulchan Aruch6 he says that one fulfills his obligation with either one but a G-d fearing person should say both.7

[The Biur Halacha8 takes issue with the Beis Yosef’s understanding of the Smag, and says that the Smag was never contrasting Rashi to Targum rather he was contrasting other translations to Targum like the Rosh and Tosfos. He concludes however9, that one should read both like the Psak of the Beis Yosef, because although Rashi explains more, there are many Pesukim that don’t have Rashi on them.] 

One who has trouble understanding Rashi can read a comparable sefer in a language he understands that incorporates Rashi and Chazal’s explanation of the Possuk.10 

How to Read 

The Mikrah has to be said. Therefore one cannot say the Mikrah once and the Targum and rely on hearing the second Mikrah (without verbally reading along) from the Ba’al Koreh. If one has done this it is a dispute amongst the Achronim if he has fulfilled his obligation.11 If, however, he verbally reads along with the Ba’al Koreh he has fulfilled his obligation.12 (This however is neither the ideal way nor time to do Shnayim Mikrah as will become clear in the following paragraphs.) 

There are several opinions amongst the Achronim as to what is the best way to do Shnayim Mikrah V’echad Targum:

  1. Each Possuk twice and then the Targum13
  2. Each “Parsha” (paragraph) twice and then the Targum14
  3. Possuk, Targum and then the Possuk again in order to finish off with Torah15

The Mishna Berura16brings the first two opinions and says that either way is good. 

One who is able to should read from a Sefer Torah.17

If one doesn’t have the Targum, he should read the Mikrah twice and when he gets the Targum read it then.18

It should be read in order.19

It is forbidden to interrupt in the middle of a “Parsha”20

It is proper and praiseworthy not to interrupt the reading at all.21

An interruption for this purpose is idle speech, One is permitted to make a beracha.22 



Usually, one may begin to read from the time that one is allowed to daven Mincha on the preceding Shabbos (when the following week’s Torah portion is begun).23

The ideal methods are to either: 

a) Do the entire Shnayim Mikrah V’echad Targum on Friday.24 This was the custom of the Arizal.

One should cut their nails before beginning.25

[There are various opinions as to when on Friday.  Some say before midday and some say after. Some say that those who are accustomed to go to the Mikvah should go beforehand, and some say it is better to go afterward.]26 

b) Do it incrementally throughout the week.27 The practice of the Vilna Gaon was to read a portion of the Sedra every morning after Shachris and finish on Friday morning.

If one has not completed the Parsha on Friday, it should be completed by the Shabbos morning Seuda28 (and preferably before davening Shabbos morning)29. The meal should not be delayed past Chatzos30 nor should guests be kept waiting31 in order to finish the Parsha.

If one didn’t finish before the meal he should finish by Mincha, for that is when the next week’s portion is begun. If he didn’t finish by Mincha he has until Wednesday, and if he didn’t finish by Wednesday his last chance is Simchas Torah. 32 Once the next week has begun, he should do that weeks portion and then go back to the ones that he missed. Ideally however it should be finished by Shabbos as we explained earlier. 

The students of the Arizal write that Targum should not be read at night.33 

The Steipler Gaon would read the last Possuk after Krias HaTorah, before the Seuda. This was his understanding of “with the congregation”.34 


There is no obligation to read the Haftorah, however it is customary to do so, in case one is asked to lain the Haftorah.35 



A teacher of children who teaches the Parsha and explains (not just translates) it, does not have to read it again.36 

Yom Tov 

The Yom Tov readings do not require Shnayim Mikrah, for they are read over the course of the year. (There is a Chasidic Minhag to read the “Four Parshios” Shnayim Mikrah V’echad Targum).

However, Vezos Habracha, the final Parsha in the Torah, which is read on Simchas Torah, must be read. The proper time for this is on Hoshana Raba or Shmini Atzeres (outside of Israel).37 If it is read before Hoshana Raba one has not fulfilled his obligation.38 


For Further Study 

Igros Moshe Vol. 8:37

[1] TB Berachos 8a

[2] Bamidbar 32:34

[3] Berachos Chapter 1:8

[4] OC 285

[5] Megilla 3a

[6] 285:2

[7] It is said in the name of the Baal Shem Tov that this can be understood that “learning Rashi causes one to become a G-d fearing person

[8] 285

[9] Biur Halacha Ibid, MB 285:6

[10] MB 285:5

[11] MB 285:2

With regard to being Yotzeh with someone else reading SMV"T and having intent to be Motzi, the Aruch Hashulchan says it’s forbidden, and the Ridvaz quoted by the Chida and Shaarei Teshuvah are of the opinion that it works, much the same as Megilla or any Bracha. However, one cannot fulfill his obligation by listening to a recoding of SMV"T, for there is no intent to be Motzi. (RDF)

[12] OC285:5 and MB there

[13] Magen Avraham and Lechem Chamudos

[14] GR”A

[15] Mishnas Chasidim (brought by Baer Haitiv), Shulchan Aruch HaRav

[16] MB 285:2

[17] MB 285:2

[18] MB 285:6

[19] MB 285:6

[20] Shaar Hatzion 285:11 writes very harsh things about one who does so

[21] MB 285:6

[22] Kaf Hachaim 285:15

[23] MB 285:7. The exception to this is when Yom Tov comes out on Shabbos; according to some one may only begin from Sunday. (Piskei Teshuvah footnote #18) RDF holds that even so it is permitted to begin from Mincha time

[24] MB 285:8

[25] Beer Haitiv 285:1

[26] See Piskei Teshuvah

[27] MB Ibid in the name of the Mateh Yehuda and others

[28] OC 285:4. One may make Kiddush and have a snack before finishing. /font>

[29] MB 285:9

[30] MB 285:9

[31] Shar Hatzion 285:14

[32] OC 285:4

[33] Shaarei Teshuvah 285:1

[34] Orchos Rabeinu

[35] Rema 285:7 and MB ad loc.

[36] OC 285:6

[37] Shaarei Teshuvah 285:4

[38] Shu"t Kaneh Bosem vol. 1:16, as quoted by the Piskei Teshuvah. And although Vezos Habracha has already been read on the Shabbos prior at Mincha, it will not help in this instance to be called “Im Hatzibur” (with the congregation). See footnote 23 earlier, it would seem that RDF would argue here as well.

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Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch HaberRabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber is sought after by all who know him for his Halachic and practical advice. His keen ability to put complicated matters into a digestible perspective coupled with his ability to get the facts, make him the perfect blogger to help us all “Do It Right”.

A native of Buffalo, NY, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Haber spent his childhood globetrotting with his family. His pioneering spirit first surfaced in Melbourne, Australia, where he was excited to be a member of the opening class of Mesivta Bnei Torah. From Australia the Haber family settled down in Monsey, NY. Ever the maverick, Tzvi promptly left home to study in Yeshiva Ohr Hameir in Peekskill, where he became a mainstay of the Yeshiva, and inspired his younger brothers as well as several friends from the Mesivta in Melbourne to follow him. He then joined his chaburah in Jerusalem, first at the Mir Yeshiva and then at the Bais Medrash of Rav Dovid Soloveitchik, a senior scion of the famed Brisk dynasty. As his globetrotting family returned to Jerusalem, Tzvi returned to the US, to freeze in the famed, yet comparatively chilled Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood.

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