Shnayim Mikra v’Echad Targum During Kriyas HaTorah

Before we address the specifics of Shnayim Mikra v’Echad Targum, let us discuss the basic concept of learning during the public reading of the Torah (kriyas haTorah).

There are two opinions as to fundamental nature of kriyas haTorah. The first is that every Jewish male over the age of bar mitzvah is obligated to hear the weekly Torah portion read from a kosher scroll on Shabbos morning. In order to fulfill this this obligation, one must pay attention to every word that is read. (See, for example Magen Avraham 146:5.) According to the second opinion, kriyas haTorah is a communal obligation, i.e., a minyan of at least ten adult males must read the weekly Torah portion from a kosher scroll on Shabbos morning but it is not an obligation on any individual per se (Ramban, Ran, Megillah 5a).

The position that an authority takes on this question has a number of halachic ramifications. Most germane for our purposes is the question of whether one may study Torah (for example, Daf Yomi) while the parsha is being read. According to the first position, each individual must pay attention to every word of the Torah reading, with the result that davening or learning at this time would be prohibited, even b’dieved (after the fact). According to the second position, there is room for leniency so long as a minyan is paying attention to the Torah reading.

The Shulchan Aruch (OC 146:2) writes:

Once the reader begins to read from the Torah, it becomes prohibited to speak – even words of Torah and even between aliyos. … There are those who permit learning silently and some say that if there are ten paying attention then it is permitted to speak words of Torah. There are those who permit it (only – MB 146:9) for one whose occupation is Torah study, and those who permit it for one who turns aside before the Torah is opened in order to indicate that he is not listening to the Torah being read. … To review Shnayim Mikra v’Echad Targum during kriyas haTorah is permitted. All this doesn’t apply to parshas Zachor and parshas Parah, which are Torah obligations for one to pay attention and hear from the reader. It would be appropriate for a meticulous person to act carefully and pay attention to hear every Torah portion from the reader.

We see from this that acting stringently in this matter may be advisable but doing so is not necessarily indispensable. Mishnah Brurah (146:15) and Aruch HaShulchan (146:6), however, are stringent that each person pay attention to every word of the Torah reading. (The aforementioned Mishnah Brurah mentions that to learn Shnayim Mikra v’Echad Targum or Chumash with Rashi between aliyos is permitted even according to the stringent opinion.)

Which brings us to Shnayim Mikra v’Echad Targum.

The Shulchan Aruch (OC 285:5) is explicit that one is permitted to review Shnayim Mikra v’Echad Targum during the public reading of the Torah. The understanding is that one may do so even if one is not following along with the reader per se. The reason for this is because one who is reviewing Shnayim Mikra v’Echad Targum is nevertheless involved with the same subject matter.

The Mishnah Brurah (285:14) cites the Magen Avraham and others that everyone must hear the Torah read by the shaliach tzibbur. He likewise quotes the Gra that one must hear every letter and follow in a Chumash (and not “help” the shaliach tzibbur by reading along out loud). He then cites the Shivlei Leket, Hagahos Maimoni (AKA Hagahos Maimoniyos) and other authorities with what he considers to be the “main” position: that reviewing Shnayim Mikra v’Echad Targum is only permitted between aliyos. The Mishnah Brurah continues that it seems to him that there’s no reason to be stringent about following along silently with the shaliach tzibbur word-for-word since one’s intention in doing so is both to review Shnayim Mikra v’Echad Targum and to hear each word of the weekly Torah portion. The Mishnah Brurah concludes by citing the Magen Avraham that this is actually the way one should do things, an opinion with which many Achronim concur.

Some authorities (Magen Avraham, Chayei Adam) maintain that one fulfills his obligation in Shnayim Mikra v’Echad Targum by listening to the Torah reading but others (Rambam, Beis Yosef) are of the opinion that one who does so doesn’t fulfill his obligation even b’dieved (after the fact), making it advisable to act stringently in this matter. Aruch HaShulchan (285:3) concludes that reading the parsha word-for-word with the shaliach tzibbur fulfills one of a person’s two reviews of the text.

As with the question of when to review Shnayim Mikra v’Echad Targum, there are many opinions about the specifics of how (and if) to do so during kriyas haTorah. We should view these many opinions as opportunities to find an approach that works best for one’s own completion of the text and translation each week. Of course, when in doubt as to how to proceed, one should always turn to his own rabbi for guidance.