Question: When minyanim are allowed, should we make up the parshiyos that we missed; and if yes, how?
Short Answer: Many contemporary poskim have ruled that there is no need to make up any of the missed parshiyos, but it is virtuous to do so.
I. Missing a Week
The Rama (Orach Chayim 135:2), based on the Or Zarua, rules that a tzibur that misses a week of k’rias haTorah must make up the missing parshah by reading two parshiyos the following week. Presumably, the first three and half aliyos would span last week’s parshah, while the last three and a half aliyos would be for this week’s parshah. This is the same pattern as a double parshah.
However, there are numerous exceptions and rules:
First, the Mishnah B’rurah (6) cites a machlokes whether a tzibur that misses numerous weeks should make up all the parshiyos or just the previous week’s parshah. The Maharam Mintz and the Vilna Gaon rule that only the previous week’s parshah is read, while the Eliyahu Rabbah rules that all missed parshiyos are read.
The Shaar HaTziyon (8) explains that this machlokes is likely based upon whether this make-up operates in the same halachic fashion as making up Sh’moneh Esrei. If yes, then since only the previous Sh’moneh Esrei has tashlumin, so too only the previous parshah may be made up. If no, then presumably all missed parshiyos may be made up. [Another ramification of this machlokes is where only one week’s k’rias haTorah is skipped, but that week was a double parshah. May the double parshah be made up next week? See the Mishnah B’rurah (7)]
Second, the Shaarei Efrayim (cited in Mishnah B’rurah 7) rules that if most people in the shul that missed a week heard the k’rias haTorah in a different shul, then the shul that missed a week does not need to make up the missed parshah the following week.
Third, the Shaarei Efrayim (7:39) rules that a tzibur need not make up a missed parshah where they only missed the parshah because there was no minyan. The only situation where they must make up the parshah is where they missed it because of some “ones” who prevented it from being read, such as a fight over the k’rias haTorah or there was no Torah, etc.
II. Practical Application
The Mishnah B’rurah appears to follow the Vilna Gaon, and would not require making up more than one parshah. Notably, he does not discuss the Shaarei Efrayim’s point of “ones.”
The Aruch HaShulchan (135:6), on the other hand, adopts the Eliyahu Rabbah and rules that it is an obligation to make up multiple weeks. Additionally, the Vilna Gaon (see Tosefes Maaseh Rav, 34) himself was stringent and personally made up four parshiyos that he missed while in jail. Similarly, the Chazon Ish (see P’eir HaDor 3:33) was stringent and made up multiple parshiyos that he missed.
III. Piskei Corona
Many great contemporary poskim have recently published their p’sak on this topic:
Rav Hershel Schachter shlita (Piskei Corona #32) writes that “[t]here is no requirement to make up the missed parshiyos,” but “there is value in doing so [based on the Vilna Gaon]” Rav Schachter bases his ruling on the fact that we have missed more than one parshah, and that the Shaarei Efrayim would likely not require such a make-up as it was not “ones” that caused us to miss the parshiyos, but rather the fact that we had no minyanim.
While Rav Schachter also writes that if a shul is going to make up the previous week’s parshah (which Rav Schachter feels is unnecessary but virtuous), the first aliyah should read the entire previous week’s parshah, as well as the first aliyah in this week’s parshah. The reason for this is that according to the Shaarei Efrayim, no make-up of any parshah (even the previous week’s parshah) is necessary, as there was no “ones.” Thus, last week’s parshah is not really part of this week’s “obligation” and thus does not “count” to the seven aliyos.
Rav Schachter also suggests that if a shul wants to make up all the parshiyos (again, unnecessary, but virtuous), two sifrei Torah can be removed, and from the first Torah, the regular parshah can be read, and then for the Maftir, the tzibur can read from the second sefer Torah – either all (or each week, some) of the missed parshiyos.
Rav Asher Weiss shlita also has a t’shuvah on this topic (dated 28 Nisan 5780). He writes that the tzibur should NOT make up the missed parshiyos, based on the Shaarei Efrayim (not “ones”), as well as the Maharam Mintz (that we never read more than two parshiyos) and the other Shaarei Efrayim (that it is possible that a majority of the minyan heard the k’rias haTorah already at rogue minyanim). He also cites a Sh’vus Yaakov who notes that the only time that we make up parshiyos is where a tzibur misses parshiyos as a one-time mistake (even if they miss a few weeks because of this mistake). Since the coronavirus situation is fluid and it is likely (Rachmana litzlan) that we will have to close our shuls again after they reopen, we do not make up the parshiyos.
Because of these issues, and the fact that reading extra parshiyos unnecessarily will cause the first three aliyos to read the wrong parshah, he paskens that NO parshah should be made up.
Notably, Rav Weiss does not discuss whether the tzibur should read the previous week’s parshah, because he is writing before Tazria-M’tzora, where the tzibur was anyway reading two parshiyos. Thus, this author is unsure what Rav Weiss would hold in a situation where we go back to shul for a single parshah. Should we read (as Rav Schachter suggests we can) the entire previous week’s parshah in the first aliyah?
Rav Yitzchak Yosef shlita also ruled on this issue in a t’shuvah dated 28 Nisan 5780. After listing all the poskim on both sides, Rav Yosef ruled that one must repeat all the parshiyos that are missed, as the Eliyahu Rabbah and the Aruch HaShulchan – and poskim who agree with them – are the majority. Similarly, he rules that it does not make a difference why the parshiyos were missed, as the whole takanah was to read the entire Torah yearly. [See also the B’Tzeil HaChochmah 1:7]
IV. Final Consideration
Rabbi Dr. Avraham Steinberg, in a recent pamphlet that he published regarding coronavirus questions, notes that there is another factor to consider. Since our first week of minyanim will likely be under very specific and limited circumstances, with an understanding that davening should be as short as necessary to avoid extra and unnecessary risks, there is an added incentive to pasken leniently, and not to make up any parshiyos.
Next Week’s Topic: How should the aliyos for k’rias haTorah be divided up in minyanim that adhere to social distancing?