Twenty Questions Part 2: Simchas Torah, Yom Tov on Shabbos, Americans in Israel and More

11. May one review the Targum before the Mikra?

I don’t know why one would want to do this but this question is indeed addressed. From the Gemara’s phrasing of the obligation – to review the parsha twice in the original text and once in the Aramaic Targum of Onkelos – it would appear that one must review the text before the translation. Mishnah Brurah 285:6 says that one must read the Mikra before the Targum l’chatchila, i.e., at the outset. The Aruch HaShulchan (OC 285:3) cites the Levush that one may fulfill his obligation by reading Mikra-Targum-Mikra, even l’chatchila, though most authorities differ.

12. When should one review Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum for parshas v’Zos HaBracha?

Generally speaking, a Torah portion is read on Shabbos and Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum should optimally be completed by Friday of that week. Parshas v’Zos HaBracha, however, is read on Simchas Torah, which can fall on a number of different days, requiring a different approach. Optimally, Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum for parshas v’Zos HaBracha should be reviewed on Hoshana Rabbah, though one still fulfills his obligation by doing so on Shemini Atzeres (Mishnah Brurah 285:18). There is an opinion that one does not fulfill his obligation in Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum for parshas v’Zos HaBracha earlier than Hoshana Rabbah (see Piskei Teshuvos 285:4) but other authorities disagree.

13. May one start reviewing Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum for parshas Bereishis before Simchas Torah?

We normally start the week’s Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum counting from mincha of the previous week’s Shabbos, which is when we start the new parsha. Since parshas v’Zos HaBracha is read on Simchas Torah, which can fall on a number of different days, one may (and probably does) have far less than a week from the holiday until the Shabbos on which we read parshas Bereishis. The question is how this affects one’s starting point.

The Mishna Acharona (285) writes that one may start reviewing Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum immediately after Chasan Bereishis has been read and, if Simchas Torah is also Shabbos (which can happen in Israel where Shemini Atzeres and Simchas Torah are a single day), then there is no need to wait until mincha. (In this case, one actually has more time to review Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum than in a regular week!)

14. When does one start reviewing Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum when yom tov falls on Shabbos?

When yom tov falls on Shabbos, there’s a “skip week” between the normally-read weekly Torah portions, with the result that there are actually two weeks from the Shabbos mincha on which a sedra is begun and the Shabbos on which it is read. The Mishna Acharona (ibid.) explains that even when this is the case, the time one may begin his review is the Shabbos mincha when the next parsha is started. Since the new parsha has been introduced, he explains, this is considered completing it with the community. He acknowledges, however, that some authorities say the proper time to begin reviewing Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum is on the Sunday following yom tov.

15. How should a foreigner in Israel for yom tov behave?

If the second day of yom tov observed only outside of Israel should fall on Shabbos, Israel would read the regular weekly Torah portion that week and the rest of the world would read the yom tov portion. A foreigner in Israel who plans to return home after Shabbos should not review Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum the same as his Israeli hosts do. Rather, he should wait for his return home; if he plans to remain in Israel for another week, then he should review Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum as the Israeli residents do. Conversely, an Israeli outside of Israel who plans to return home before the next Shabbos should read as they do in Israel, but not if he plans to remain abroad another week. (Mishna Achrona, ibid.)

16. What should one do if he misses a week?

If one misses a week’s review of Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum, the appropriate course of action is first to review the previous week’s sedra (i.e., the one that he missed), followed by the current week’s sedra. (In other words, one should continue to review the Torah portions in their proper chronological order.) Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ztz”l wrote that if one began reviewing the current sedra before completing the previous one, he may finish it.

17. What about the haftarah, special maftirs, yom tov Torah readings, etc.?

A person is not obligated to review the haftarah of the weekly Torah portion, though there is a widespread custom to do so after reviewing Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum (Rema OC 285:7; Magen Avraham 285:12).

The special readings for Rosh Chodesh, yom tov, etc. need not be reviewed Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum the weeks they are read because one does so the weeks that they appear in the regular Torah reading (Mishnah Brurah 285:18).

18. What about the pasuk of Shema?

The Mishna (Brachos 5:3) tells us that a shaliach tzibbur who says “modim, modim” (“we give thanks, we give thanks”) is silenced. The Gemara (Brachos 33b) explains that the reason is because one who does so appears to be addressing two deities (God forbid). Rabbi Zeira adds that the same rule applies to a person who says “Shema, Shema.” The Gemara then quotes a braisa (a teaching contemporary with the Mishna) that doubling Shema is a disgraceful practice but not that one need be silenced for doing so. The Gemara concludes that the braisa is discussing a case where one repeats each word, while Rabbi Zeira is discussing a case where one repeats the entire verse. We see from this a general prohibition against repeating the verse of Shema, codified in halacha in Orach Chaim 61:9. This being the case, how can one review it Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum?

Despite the general prohibition against repeating Shema, this does not pose a problem in reviewing it Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum. Since one is repeating every verse twice, not just Shema, it’s obvious that one’s intention is not to address two deities (God forbid).

19. What should one do when a parsha ends mid-pasuk?

This question may not make much sense to many readers, so let’s explain it.

We may colloquially refer to the weekly Torah portion as a “parsha,” but it’s not really a parsha; it’s a sedra. A parsha is a section in a Torah reading, either “open” or “closed.” A sedra contains many parshas.

With this understanding, the question arises as to what to do about Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum when a parsha ends in the middle of a verse (pasuk). This is a rare occurrence but it does happen – see parshas Vayishlach (Genesis 35:22), parshas Yisro (Exodus 20:13), parshas Pinchas (Numbers 26:1) and parshas Devarim (Deuteronomy 2:8) – you’ll recognize the end of a parsha by a freestanding letter pei or samech printed in the middle of the pasuk.

The problem is that if one is learning section by section, he will stop reading the text and start reading the translation in the middle of a pasuk. The reason this is a problem is because the Talmud tells us (Taanis 27b, Megillah 22a) that we’re not permitted to split a pasuk by stopping anywhere other than where Moshe stopped. Nevertheless, it appears that we should stop at the aforementioned junctions because Moshe did in fact stop at these points (Aruch HaShulchan 285:5).

20. What’s this I hear about repeating the last pasuk?

Many authorities are of the opinion that if one reviews Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum by parsha (section), then he should read the last verse of the sedra a third time in order in order to complete his review with Mikra rather than with Targum (Magen Avraham 285:1, Kaf HaChaim 285:3, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch 72:11, et al.).

Aruch HaShulchan 285:6 says that the last verse of the sedra should be repeated even when reviewing Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum by pasuk (verse).

There is also a less-common practice to repeat the last verse of the sedra twice (Morah B’Etzba [Chida] 131).