Selected Halachos That Relate To Parshas Shemos
by Rabbi Doniel Neustadt
The following is a discussion of Halachic topics related to the Parsha of the week. For
final rulings, please consult your Rav.
And these are the names of the Children of Israel (Exodus 1:1)
Shnayim Mikrah Ve'echad Targum Each week, we read in shul the weekly Torah
portion - parshas hashovua. In conjunction with the public reading of the
parsha, our Sages require that every individual study it on his own and be
familiar with its basic meaning. To achieve this level of mastery, they
instituted a three-tiered review of the parsha: The text itself must be
read twice, followed by Onkelos' Sinaitic translation (1). Shnayim Mikrah
Ve'echod Targum, "twice the text and once the translation of Onkelos", is
the name of this mitzvah. A G-d fearing man should study Rashi's commentary
in addition to Targum. If one does not have time for both, however, most
poskim agree that Targum takes precedence over Rashi (2).
The origin of this mitzvah is unclear but it harks back to ancient
times (3). The Levush (4) writes that it is hinted at (remez) in the first
verse of this week's Parsha. The Hebrew letters of the verse "V'eila Shemos
Bnei Yisroel" are an acronym for: V'chayav Adam Likros Haparsha Shnayim
Mikra Ve'echod Targum Vze Chayavim Kol Bnei Yisroel". Let us review some of
As the wording of the remez proves, Shnayim Mikra Ve'echod Targum is not
just good advice; it is a full-fledged obligation. Shulchan Aruch, too,
when discussing this halacha, considers it an obligation. Even a Torah
scholar who is completely immersed in study must fulfill this obligation,
his other studies notwithstanding (5). In addition, a reward of long life is
promised to those who are meticulous in performing this mitzvah (6). It
seems logical, therefore, that fathers should be mechanech (teach) their
sons to observe Shnayim Mikra Ve'echod Targum. Women, though, are
There are four different time slots in which this mitzvah can be fulfilled
l'chatchilah. They are listed in order of preference: Reading the parsha
completely on erev Shabbos, or beginning it during the week and finishing
it on erev Shabbos (8). One may begin reciting the weekly portion
immediately after Mincha of the previous Shabbos (9); Completing the parsha
before going to shul Shabbos morning (10); Completing the parsha before the
Shabbos morning meal (11); Completing the parsha before Shabbos Mincha (12).
B'dieved, if one did not finish before Mincha on Shabbos, he may finish it
until Tuesday night of the following week. The previous week's parsha
should be completed before the new week's portion is begun (13). Other
poskim are even more lenient and allow one to make up an incomplete parsha
until the next Simchas Torah (14). Since both of these deadlines are "makeup
times," they are not to be relied on l'chatchilah (15). There are two basic
opinions (16) regarding the correct order of Shnayim Mikrah Ve'echod Targum.
Some prefer that each posuk be read twice followed by Targum.. This was the
custom of the Chofetz Chaim (17). The custom of the Vilna Gaon, however, was
to read a segment (parsha) at a time, read it again, and then follow it up
with Targum (18).
No matter which of the methods is followed, one should be careful to say
and repeat mikrah first, and then say Targum, although b'dieved one is
yotzei even if he said Targum before mikrah (19).
When completing the recitation of Targum, the last verse of mikrah should
be repeated (for a third time), since the final verse to be read should
always be from mikrah and not from Targum (20). While listening to the Torah
reading in shul, one can read the text along with the reader and count it
towards one recitation of mikrah. If one listened attentively but did not
read along with the reader, he should not rely on listening alone to
fulfill his mikrah obligation. B'dieved, there are some poskim who are
lenient and consider listening to the reader as fulfillment of one
recitation of mikrah (21).
1 The basic explanation given by the Levush for this Mitzvah is that we
should become fluent in the Torah. He does not, however, explain, why we
need to recite the text twice and the Targum once. See Aruch Hashulchan
285:2 and Emes L'yaakov AL Hatorah (Mavo pg. 11) for two original
explanations for this Mitzvah.
2 Shaarei Teshuvah 285:2; Biur Halacha 285:2; Aruch Hashulchan 285:12.
3 We do not find a reference to this in the Mishnah. The earliest source is
the Talmud in Brachos 8a. See Aruch Hashulchan 285:2 who says that surely
this was instituted by Moshe Rabbeinu.
4 OC 285.
5 Igros Moshe OC 5:17; Shmiras Shabbos Khilchasa 42:57 quoting Bnai Tzion.
6 Brachos 8b.
7 Since they are not obligated to listen to Krias Hatorah, see Mishnah
Berurah 282: and Aruch Hashulchan 282:11, they are also not obligated to
prepare for it.
8 Mishnah Berurah 285:8. Either of these options is considered mitzvah min
9 Mishnah Berurah 285:7. See footnote 13.
10 Mishnah Berura 285:9.
11 OC 285:4. According to some, this time is also considered mitzvah min
12 OC 285:4. Shmiras Shabbos Khilchasa 42:58 understands it to mean Mincha
Gedolah, since from that time and on the reading of the next Parsha can
13 Mahrsham 1:213; Ktzos Hashulchan 73:9.
14 OC 285:4. It must be finished before the reading of Bresihis on Simchat
Torah - Kaf Hachayim 285:26.
15 Mishnah Berurah 285:12.
16 Quoted in Mishnah Berurah 285:2. Either view may be followed.
17 Reported in Shu"t Shevet Halevi 7:32
18 Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky ruled that one should compromise between the two
views: The first time one should read a segment at a time, the second time
he should read each posuk with its Targum (see explanation in Emes L'Yaakov
Al Hatorah, Mavo pg. 11).
19 Mishnah Berurah 285:6 and Shaar Hatzion 10.
20 Magen Avraham 285:8; Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:11; Aruch Hashulchan
285:6. Mishnah Berurah, though does not quote this.
21 Mishnah Berurah 285:2; Aruch Hashulchan 285:3,13.
Weekly-Halacha, Copyright © 1997 by Rabbi Neustadt, Dr. Jeffrey Gross and
Project Genesis, Inc. Rabbi Neustadt is the principal of Yavne
Teachers' College in Cleveland, Ohio. He is also the Magid Shiur of a daily
Mishna Berurah class at Congregation Shomre Shabbos.
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