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Weekly Halacha

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 the halachos:

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 exempt (7).

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 hamuvchar.

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 hamuvchar.

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 take place.

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.

The Weekly-Halacha Series is distributed L'zchus Hayeled Doniel Meir ben Hinda. Weekly sponsorships are available--please send email to the moderator, Dr. Jeffrey Gross

The series is distributed by the Harbotzas Torah Division of Congregation Shomre Shabbos, 1801 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, Ohio 44118--HaRav Yisroel Grumer, Marah D'Asra



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