Reading the Parsha and the Targum

  2. Chazal tell us (and this is the halachah in the Shulchan Aruch) that a person should complete the parsha of the week (reading it twice) and the Targum (once) every week…and that those who do this will have length of days and years. By “always” they mean that even a person who is pressured by a heavy schedule of learning Torah and has no time—even he should be careful to read the parsha with the Targum as required. The repetitious “length of days and years” comes to suggest that his life will be good as well as long. Rav Bibi bar Abaye was descended from the children of Eli Hacohen, whose descendents were destined to live short lives. The Gemara tells us that since on Rosh Hashanah the books of life and death are open, and completing the parshas is a segula for length of days, he made a point of completing the reading of all the parshas of the year by erev Rosh Hashannah so that he might be inscribed in the book of life immediately.

  3. Even talmidei chochomim that are involved in learning are required to read the parsha (twice) and the targum every week.
  4. The best way to do this mitzvah is to complete reading the parsha before eating the Shabbos meal on Friday night. (This is one of the things that Rebbe commanded his sons before he died.) Nevertheless, it is clearly inappropriate to postpone the meal until after chatzos, especially if there are guests, in order to do this. Lechatchila, a person who has not yet completed the reading of the parsha and the targum should rise early and complete it before he goes to the synagogue on Shabbos morning.
  5. The parsha should be read carefully and with understanding. It should not be done as though it were a burden. Anything that is not understood should be examined in the commentaries. It has been said in the name of the Shlah Hakodesh that merely to read the parsha without understanding is not enough. A person should contemplate what he reads: The mitzvos, the mussar and the good midos that can be learned from the parsha.
  6. From the words of Chazal, it appears that the weekly reading of the parsha and the targum originates with them, but when Moshe Rabbeinu made the takanah to read the Torah, he certainly made the takanah that requires each person to read the parsha twice and targum (once), and when a person does so with understanding, he certainly fulfils the mitzvah of learning Torah.
  7. Even those who are accustomed to stand during the Torah reading may lechatchilah read the parsha and the targum sitting down.
MDhalachalMaase is written by HaRav HaGaon R’ Shammai Gross
Translated by Rabbi Tzvi Abraham