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Reviewing the Weekly Parsha

By Rabbi Yair Hoffman

Sukkos is over, and Bereishis has begun once agin.

It is time to take seriously the Mitzvah – the obligation rather, of doing the weekly Torah portion with the Tzibbur.

The purpose of this article is to make available, in an easily understood format, the laws of “Shnayim Mikreh VeEchad Targum -Reviewing the Weekly Parsha” in order to spread the observance of this Mitzvah. It is an unfortunate reality that this particular Mitzvah is still neglected, even during these times, when Boruch Hashem, we are experiencing a resurgence of Torah observance.

The Mitzvah of Shnayim Mikreh VeEchad Targum is an important one. It is one of the few Mitzvos where our Chazal assure us longer life if we but perform it. It is a Mitzvah that, according to many authorities (Netziv, Sheiltos, Meseches Sofrim), including the Aruch HaShulchan, was, for the most part, ordained by Moshe Rabbeinu himself, later being augmented by Ezra.

The Bach (Orech Chaim 685) writes that a Takanas Moshe, an enactment of Moshe Rabbeinu, has the status of a Mitzvah DeOraisa, a Biblical Mitzvah.
According to this view, Shnayim Mikrah is a biblical Mitzvah. Although the halacha is not in accordance with the Bach on this, it does not need to be stated that a Takanas Moshe carries a high degree of significance.

It is also a Mitzvah that has a deep qualitative effect upon our commitment to Torah and to Hashem. The Chofetz Chaim writes (chapter 21 of Zachor LaMiriam) that the performance of this Mitzvah strengthens Emunah -faith. In a similar vein, the Taamei HaMinhagim (page 160 of Kuntrus Acharon) writes that one who grooms himself for the Shabbos and completes the Shnayim Mikreh VeEchad Targum before midday is assured that he will not come to an Aveirah Chamurah the entire week.

It should be noted that this Mitzvah should not be performed in a perfunctory manner. Great care and attention should be placed to every verse and every Rashi or Targum. The Chsam Sopher writes in a responsa that his comments on Chumash were primarily conceived while he was reviewing the weekly Parsha. The Chofetz Chaim states that one who performs it should be very careful in reading the words of Rashi, as it states (Shmos 15:26), “And you shall listen to His Mitzvos” and Rashi explains, “Turn your ear to study it most carefully.”
In this booklet, the Aruch HaShulchan’s comments on these Halachos, found in the Orech Chaim section of Shulchan Aruch chapter 285, have been translated. The Aruch HaShulchan was written by Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein zt”l and was published piecemeal by his daughter, the impoverished widow, Rebbitzen Breina Wolobrinsky.

The text of this translated section has been re-paragraphed and paragraph headings were inserted to facilitate greater readability. The Mishna Brurah’s opinions and the rulings of other Poskim were added in the footnotes.


1] The Gemorah (Brachos 8b) states:

A person should always complete the weekly parsha with the Tzibbur. It should be done twice with the text and once in Targum, One must even recite the names of the cities “Atros” and “Divon.” . For everyone who completes the parsha with the Tzibbur, twice with the text and once in Targum, his days and years are extended.

In other words, before the congregation reads the parsha in Shul, a person should read it in his home, whether it be on that Shabbos itself in the morning or throughout that week. However, he may not read it earlier than that week. Some individuals have the custom to read a small section of it each day of the week, and they complete it on Shabbos (Talmid Rabbeinu Yonah).

Therefore, even though every person hears the Torah portion read publicly each Shabbos from the reader, there is, nevertheless, an obligation to read to oneself, each week, the parsha of that week twice in the text and once in Targum . [The Levush cites an allusion to this in the Torah. It states,”VeAileh Shmos Bnei Yisroel” and Shnayim Mikrah VeEchad Targum in abbreviation spells Shmos..And those that are obligated are all Bnei Yisroel .]


2] The reason for it is not known, but certainly when Moshe Rabbeinu ordained that we read the Torah , he ordained this edict as well , that each person read it twice in the text and once in the Targum.


The Levush writes that the reason is to ensure that everyone be proficient in the Torah, but as is understood this reason is insufficient [6].


It would seem that the obligation in Torah is listening and studying as we say in the blessing of Ahava Rabba, “To listen and to study.” The listening is [to be done] on Shabbos from a kosher Sefer Torah written properly and according to Halacha. Therefore, one should study it beforehand from a Chumash [7] and one should ascend in holiness to listen to it from a Sefer Torah.
It is stated in Sotah (37b) that the generalities and the specifics [of the Torah] were said at Sinai and were repeated a second time in the Ohel Moed and were repeated a third time in Arvos Moav (refer there). We must therefore study it three times, even a verse that does not have a Targum (as will be explained) corresponding to these three [times that the Torah was taught]. However, where there does exist a Targum they chose that the third time be in Targum so that he will understand what he is studying. The [language of] Targum is similar to Lashon HaKodesh and was given at Sinai, as we say in Nedarim (37b), “And they shall read it in the Torah of Hashem mefurash” – Mefurash is Targum, and it was given at Sinai as explained there. However they had forgotten it and Unkeles returned it and re-established it as we say in the beginning of Megillah [I saw it similarly stated in the Ohr Zaruah in the name of the Maggid Mishna but it was not sufficiently explained].


Some say that it [Shnayim Mikrah VeEchad Targum] corresponds to the two readers [of the Torah as it is being read] and the one translator.[Raavan] [8]


3] There is to wonder whether we specifically require that it be read twice in the text and [only] afterward it be read in the Targum or whether he also fulfills the obligation if he read it once in the text, then the Targum and then [the second time] in the text.

From the words of the Levush it is clear that this [the second way] is his opinion. For he wrote:

“It appears to me that if a man read once the text and once the Targum alone, and afterward when they read the parsha in shul he read it with the Chazan word by word, he has fulfilled the obligation of Shnayim Mikrah VeEchad Targum.”

We see that he writes explicitly that the Targum could be in the middle. Even though he writes that our Master the Beis Yosef does not agree that he fulfills his obligation in this manner, that is because he holds he cannot fulfill his obligation through the Shliach Tzibbur, but not because the Targum is in the middle.

The Gedolim have already written that even the Beis Yosef does not disagree with this, rather, he is referring to [mere] listening where he does not fulfill his obligation, but if he recites it with the Chazzan word by word he does fulfill his obligation [Prisha and Ohr Zaruah] [9].


There is an opinion that even regarding listening he fulfills his obligation [Magen Avrohom subparagraph 8 quoting the Lechem Chamudos]. Similarly there is an opinion that if he heard the Shnayim Mikrah VeEchad Targum he also fulfills his obligation if he made sure to hear it (word by word) [10] [Shaarei Teshuvah citing the Radbaz].

According to my humble opinion [11] we require specifically learning and not listening as we have written and see paragraph 13.


4] There is an opinion that states that the reading of Shnayim Mikrah VeEchad Targum is in the following manner: To read each parsha, that is every psucha or stumah two times, and then afterward the Targum [Magen Avrohom subparagraph 1 quoting the Maharshal and Shla] [12].


It would appear so logically [that the method should be to stop at each Parsha in the Sidra], because the Holy One blessed be He related to Moshe each parsha at one time, and between each parsha there was a break, as it says in Toras Kohanim in the beginning of VaYikra (1:1):

“What purpose did the interruptions have? In order to give Moshe a period to reflect on each parsha.”

Rashi cites it in his commentary on Chumash.

Perhaps because of this reason, they commanded us to read Shnayim Mikrah VeEchad Targum, for it says in the Midrash [Yalkut Shimoni Iyov 28], “Each and every item that the Holy One Blessed be He told Moshe, He would say twice in His heart and afterward he told it to Moshe. What is the reason? [Az Raah Vayisaprah Haichina VeGam Chakrah] – “He saw it then and recited it” [is] one time [“He prepared it and also inquire into it” [is] another time and afterwards it states, “and He said to the man..” – this is Moshe] etc [13]. Nevertheless, the Holy One Blessed Be He did relate to Moshe each Parsha by itself.

In the beginning of Megillah [4a] they state, “I will review this Parsha and teach it..” refer there. Parsha is defined as a psucha or a stumah, and that which is referenced in the Chumashim, “third [aliyah] or fourth [aliyah] is not considered with any significance. [And in Brachos 8a where they state that a person should always complete his parshios with the congregation, which indicates that each sidrah is called a parsha, this is not so. For this is the explanation: – the parshios of that sidrah.]


5] However according to this, there would be a question when there is a new parsha in the middle of a posuk. As in Pinchas, “And it was after the plague (BaMidbar 26:1).” And in Parshas VaYishlach, “And the sons of Yaakov were twelve..(Bereishis 35:22)” And in Dvarim, “..from Eilat and from Etzyon Gvar (Dvarim 2:9).” What should be done? If he stops there and reviews the Parsha, he is in the middle of a Posuk!

Nevertheless, it appears that he should do this [14]. And if a problem is raised of, “any verse that Moshe did not stop at, we do not stop at..” [15] here, Moshe did, [in fact], stop. Similarly in regard to the ten commandments in “Do not murder (Shmos 20:13)” there is a parsha etc., refer there [16].


6] There are those that wrote to read each verse twice and afterward the Targum [17], [Arizal and Maadnei Yom Tov] and at the end of the Sidrah he should also read a posuk after the Targum so that he will end with Torah [Magen Avrohom ad locum].

A proof to this is found in the language of the Gemorah, “Two times [Shnayim] Mikreh and one time Targum” the language is in masculine and Parsha is feminine while Posuk is masculine. However, there is to answer that it is referring to the man, for the man says two times Mikreh and one time Targum.

It appears to me that this depends on the reasons. For according to the reason that we wrote in paragraph 4, it is certainly referring to the Parshah, and so too according to the reason that we wrote in paragraph 2 [See “Aruch HaShulchan’s Reason.”] However, according to the other opinion at the end of paragraph 2 [“Raavan’s Reason”], it certainly is referring to each posuk.


7] There are those that read the entire Sidrah and afterwards a second time, and afterwards the Targum. And it is somewhat indicative that this is the correct method from the language of Rashi in Brachos there, and from the Gemorah where it states that Rav Bibi Bar Abaye wished to complete the parshios of the entire year before Yom Kippur etc. The reference is to all the sidros, after which it says he wished to say them early. Rashi explains that he wished to do all the parshios on one Shabbos, see there. So we see explicitly that he calls a sidrah “parsha.”

And so it is seen from the words of the Ohr Zaruah HaGadol (Siman 12): “He wished to complete all the parshios of the year.” Rabbeinu Chananel had the text “the parshios of the Kallah (semi-annual gathering for study purposes)” that is the four parshios that we read in Elul and the four that we read in Adar.” We see that he calls a Sidrah “parsha.”


Therefore, it would seem to my humble opinion that there are no restrictions [18], and that one may perform it in whichever manner that one wishes, as each of them have halachic backing.

It is also possible that at times one may perform it one way and at times the other way. And if you might think that there would be a restriction to perform it in one particular way, the early Rabbis would not have refrained from stating this [19].


There is an opinion that wrote that if he is fluent in the taamim [20], he should read it from a Sefer Torah [21], and he should immerse after reading it and cut his fingernails before the reading [Magen Avrohom there]. And this is a Midas Chassidus, and it follows the opinion of those who read it on Friday.


There is an opinion that it is prohibited to speak during the reading of Shnayim Mikreh VeEchad Targum [Be-er Haitev subparagraph 1]. And it is strange to say this, for without a blessing of what significance is an interruption, as the Tosfos have written in Brachos [14a “Yamim”] in regard to Hallel? And if it is because it is prohibited to interrupt Torah study for mundane things, this is inapplicable to Shnayim Mikreh VeEchad Targum, for it may be assumed that he is stopping for an important matter. And furthermore those that read the Parsha each day, they are interrupting repeatedly. Therefore, there is no halachic significance to this [opinion] [22].


8] What is called, “With the assembly?” The Tur writes:

“The entire week from day one onward is considered with the assembly [23], since we start the parsha on the Shabbos at Mincha [and this is considered “with the congregation” in other words, “that the congregation begins]. And it is a Mitzvah Min HaMuvchar to complete it before he eats [24] on Shabbos [The Ohr Zaruah writes that we suspect that on account of abundant eating he may not read at all]. If he did not complete it before he eats, he should complete it after the meal before Mincha, but from that point on since we begin the next one, the time for this one has passed.”

9] It is clear from his words that there is no importance in completing it before the reading of the Torah, just before eating. For this is referred to as “Mitzvah Min HaMuvchar – the ideal manner in which to perform the Mitzvah.”

It is also clear from his words that after Minchah the time has already passed, as the congregation already began the next one and it is no longer called “with the congregation.”

It is further clear from his words that when he completes it on Friday it is not considered “Mitzvah Min HaMuvchar.” And so wrote the Mordechai in the first chapter of Brachos that it is only [a Mitzvah Min HaMuvchar] on Shabbos morning before the meal, refer there [see further the Bach].


10] However, there are those that wrote that the essential Hiddur is on Friday. Some say before midday and some say after midday. And so was the custom of the AriZal to read in a Sefer Torah on Friday after davening24b [see Be-er Heitev and Shaarei Teshuvah #1]. Some say that the Mitzvah Min HaMuvchar is to read a little bit each day and to complete it on Friday, as is printed in the book, “Chok LeYisroel.”


Similarly, there are those who said that one who did not complete it on Shabbos may complete it until Wednesday [25], for this is called after Shabbos as we say at the end of the seventh chapter of Gittin.

Some say that he may further complete it until the end of the year until the completing of the Torah [26]; in Israel this is Shmini Atzeres and outside of Israel this is Simchas Torah, and then all the sidros that he did not read he reads Shnayim Mikreh VeEchad Targum [27].

And so it appears from the words of our Rabbis, the Shulchan Aruch and the Achronim, and this is how we should conduct ourselves [28].


11] The statement of the sages has already been explained that everything requires a translation. Even verses with names such as Reuvain and Shimon require translation; and not on account of translation, for also in the language of the Targum the words are equivalent to the words in the Hebrew. Rather, it is because we require it to be read three times in accordance with the reasons we have explained. In the Gemorah it states, “even Atros and Divon”, and with this there is a greater insight, as Rabbeinu Bachya wrote, that in the Targum they are names of places of idolworship, and I would have thought that it would be better not to mention them, therefore it teaches us that this is not the case. [And the commentaries struggled much in this matter [29] see TaZ, Mogen Avrohom, Tur, and Talmid Rabbeinu Yonah. However, according to what we wrote it is understood beautifully.]


12] The Tur writes:

“If he studied the Parsha with the explanation of Rashi it is considered like Targum [30]. For the intent of Targum is only to understand the matter. However, if he reads it in another language [31] it is not considered [like Targum].”

The reason for this is that other languages do not reproduce the meaning as it was handed down from Sinai [32], but Targum explains it in accordance with the way it was given from Sinai as we have written in the end of paragraph two. Similarly, the explanation of Rashi is based upon the expositions of our Rabbis of blessed memory, which is the clear truth as if it was from Sinai.

Our Master the Beis Yosef in paragraph two (Shulchan Aruch 285:2) wrote that a G-D-fearing individual should read [both] Targum and Rashi’s explanation [33]. For the Targum was given at Sinai, and Rashi’s explanation [should be read] to understand the Parsha properly.

The Gedolim have agreed that only the Targum of Unkeles [may be used] and one does not fulfill the obligation with anything else [34]. For the Targum is holy and was given at Sinai. This is also [the ruling] according to the wisdom of the Kabbalah. And this is the custom of all Israel. And Heaven forbid to deviate from this.


If at the present time he does not possess a Targum, he should recite the text twice and when he obtains a Targum he should say it [Mogen Avrohom subparagraph 4]. If he does not anticipate that he will be able to obtain a Targum it appears to my humble opinion that he must read the text three times according to the reasons that we have explained [35].


13] He may read the Shnayim Mikreh and Echad Targum at the time of the reading of the Torah. So wrote the Beis Yosef [Shulchan Aruch] in paragraph five [36]. And the explanation is that he may say the Shnayim Mikreh and Echad targum at the time of the reading of the Torah even though he does not say it in unison with the reader. And the reason is explained in the Mordechai there, that it is because he is dealing with the same matter, refer there. There is an opinion that even if he merely hears it, he has fulfilled his obligation, but we have already written [end of paragraph 3, see notes there as well] that this is not so [and so wrote the Knesses HaGedolah and the Olas Shabbos].


Teachers of children that read the Sidrah each week with the children a few times fulfill through this their obligation of reading. And if they read with them the targum or Rashi, they also fulfill their obligation of targum, and see what is written in paragraph 12. Similarly, anyone who studied the Sidrah in the middle of the week twice, does not need to go back and read the Parsha on Shabbos.


The Haftoras do not need to be read by an individual [37]. However, it has become the custom to read it after Shnayim Mikreh VeEchad Targum. Similarly, what we read on Rosh Chodesh, the holidays [38], and the Yomim Noraim, the individual does not have to read [in Shnayim Mikreh VeEchad Targum], for each one was read on its Shabbos. The Ramah writes that on a Shabbos of a Chasunah (wedding) he should read the Haftorah of Shabbos and not “Sos Asis (Yishaya 61:10).” For in his days there was a custom to read for a bridegroom “Sos Asis”, but in our days we do not know of such a custom. [All that the Mogen Avrohom wrote in subparagraphs 11 and 12 we do not know of such customs. Also, that which he wrote citing the Knesses HaGedolah that “One who reads Shnayim Mikreh VeEchad Targum should read the haftorah of .the parsha and not the haftorah of the four parshios..” requires further scrutiny.]

AriZal Pri Eitz Chaim
Shaar HaShabbos chapter three

The Mitzvah of Shnayim Mikreh VeEchad Targum in its time is on Friday after midday. For it is in this time that the Klipah – the outer shell separates from the realm of Kedusha. With the secret of Shnayim Mikreh VeEchad Targum we remove the outer shell from the holiness. After which, with the proper intentions of immersion we effect the light of the holiness of the Shabbos.

Piturah DeAbba
Erev Shabbos
Chapter Ten

The custom of my teacher my Rabbi of blessed memory (the AriZal), was immediately after the Friday morning prayers, he would go to the synagogue or to his house of study, if there was a Sefer Torah there he would take it out and read in it the Parsha twice in the text and once in Targum. He would read the text from the Sefer Torah and he had a student that would read to him the Targum from the book of the Targum and he would repeat it after him.

This is what he would do for each and every verse until the end of the Parsha. He would not do as others brazenly read the whole Parsha in the text entirely one time, and then read it again a second time and then read it entirely in the Targum a third time. Rather, he would read each and every verse by itself, twice in the text and once in the Targum.

He would exert himself to read it on Friday and would say that this is the fundamental principle behind “And it shall be on the sixth day that they prepare what they shall bring.” Otherwise, if some great emergency would happen he would read the Shnayim Mikreh Echad Targum on Shabbos after the morning prayer and before the meal, as Rabbeinu HaKadosh commanded. He did not do it like those that do it in the middle of the Shabbos morning service.

After reading the Parsha he would immerse himself with the Friday immersion etc. My teacher and Rabbi used to say that once a person read the Parsha he has the strength to accept upon himself the additional holiness of the Shabbos. He would not immerse until he finished the Parsha.

III. Maharal Nesivos Olam I
Chapter 13

One may ask, why twice in the text and once in translation? The answer is that we find that the Torah was given at Mount Sinai, taught once again in the Ohel Moed, and a third time in Arvos Moav. At Arvos Moav, the Torah was explained, as it is stated (Dvarim 1:5), “Moshe initiated the explanation of the Torah” – Rashi adds “into seventy languages.” We, therefore, do it twice in the text and once in translation – which is an explanation of the Torah, for there is no need for seventy languages, rather each person should understand it in his own tongue, and the language of the multitude of Israel was Targum [Aramaic]. Therefore it must be done twice in the text and once in the Targum.

One must understand the fundamental principle behind the matter. Shnayim Mikreh VeEchad Targum corresponds to the three worlds. Torah is from the celestial world, and therefore one should read it twice in the text corresponding to this world and to the middle world. The third one is Targum which corresponds to the celestial world.

And do not wonder how it could be that Targum,which is insignificant,is a more lofty language than the Holy Tongue, for this is not the case. The language of Targum is not a private language specific to any one nation, rather it is all-encompassing to everyone. The Targum teaches to the entire world, encompassing all. On account of this, the Torah was given to everyone.

This also teaches why the third time it should be read in Targum, which is all-enclusive -the Torah belongs to everyone. However, the nations of the world did not wish to accept it. This is the significance of the loftiness of Torah, when it is for all. Thus, on account of the fact that the Torah comes from the celestial world to the lower world to Israel, we are therefore obligated to read it simultaneously with the congregation [of Israel] twice in the text and once in Targum. This is the essence of why the Torah was given at Sinai, retaught at the Ohel Moed and taught a third time in Arvos Moav in seventy languages. And understand this, for the matter is quite clear.

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