Question: May you fulfill part of Sh’nayim Mikra V’Echad Targum (“SMVT”) by either listening to (or reading along with) the baal k’riah?

Short Answer: Many poskim allow a person to fulfill part of SMVT by reciting along K’rias HaTorah with the baal k’riah. There are some poskim who simply require listening to the baal k’riah to count towards SMVT, but most poskim disagree.


I. Quiet During K’rias HaTorah

The Gemara (Sotah 39a) rules that it is forbidden to talk when the sefer Torah is open (i.e., being read). The Gemara (B’rachos 8b) recounts that Rav Sheishes would turn his head to the side and learn during K’rias HaTorah.

At first glance, these Gemaros are contradictory. How could Rav Sheishes learn during K’rias HaTorah if it is forbidden to talk during K’rias HaTorah? Many answers to this question are set forth by the Rishonim (as cited in the Tur and the Beis Yosef, Orach Chayim 146:1). Perhaps Rav Sheishes was permitted to learn because he turned his head to the side when learning. Perhaps Rav Sheishes was only learning silently, as only loud talk is forbidden. Perhaps there were ten other men listening to K’rias HaTorah when Rav Sheishes was learning. Perhaps Rav Sheishes, who was blind, was not obligated to listen to K’rias HaTorah. Perhaps Rav Sheishes is different from other people, as “toraso umanuso” – Torah learning was his livelihood and his full-time activity.

II. SMVT During K’rias HaTorah

Both the Mordechai (B’rachos siman 19) and the Haga’os HaAshri (B’rachos 1:7) rule that regardless of how the previous sources in the Gemara are reconciled, everyone holds that a person may recite SMVT during K’rias HaTorah. The Beis Yosef (ibid) cites other poskim who agree.

However, the Hagaos Maimoniyos (Hilchos T’filah 12:7) notes that the Rambam would wait to recite SMVT in between aliyos and was silent during K’rias HaTorah. Since nowadays we don’t have anyone who is “toraso umanuso” like Rav Sheishes, it is forbidden to learn (or recite SMVT) during K’rias HaTorah.

III. The Halachah

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 146:2) paskens like the Mordechai and the Hagaos HaAshri, permitting a person to recite SMVT during K’rias HaTorah. However, the Shulchan Aruch concludes that it is “correct” for everyone to focus exclusively on K’rias HaTorah.

The Mishnah B’rurah (11) explains the lenient opinion of the Shulchan Aruch, that it is permitted to perform SMVT during K’rias HaTorah, even if the very words of SMVT are not precisely what the baal k’riah is reading at that exact moment. Additionally, the Biur Halachah (ibid) cites a machlokes whether one may recite SMVT during K’rias HaTorah where there are less than ten people listening to K’rias HaTorah without him. The Biur Halachah concludes that it should only be recited when there are ten other people listening to K’rias HaTorah.

Further, the Mishnah B’rurah (15) cites a machlokes regarding the practical halachah. He first cites the P’ri Chadash, the Magen Avraham, and the Vilna Gaon, who hold that a person really should only listen to the baal k’riah during K’rias HaTorah and should not perform SMVT at the same time. However, the Mishnah B’rurah concludes by citing the Matei Moshe (cited in the Magen Avraham) who rules that a person should recite word-for-word with the baal k’riah.

Indeed, many Acharonim, including Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky (Kovetz Halachos, Shabbos 1) and Y’chaveh Daas (2:37), adopt this lenient ruling and allow a person to perform SMVT during K’rias HaTorah, especially when he is reading word for word with the baal k’riah.

IV. Another Application

But, can you be yotzei one of the two times you must read Mikra for SMVT by simply listening to the baal k’riah during K’rias HaTorah?

The Magen Avraham (285:2) cites an opinion that you may be yotzei one time the Mikra for SMVT in this manner, but he writes that one should ideally not perform SMVT in this fashion. See Mishnah B’rurah (285:2). On the other hand, the Prishah (cited in Ohel Yaakov, SMVT, 6:3) disagrees and rules that one is not yotzei SMVT in this fashion.

The Ohel Yaakov (ibid) cites the Avnei Yashfe (6:54) who explains the machlokes is based upon whether you need an actual “k’riah” (reading) to perform SMVT. The Prishah requires a reading, while the Magen Avraham entertains the possibility that because SMVT is largely based on the mitzvah of Talmud Torah (see Article #1), it may be performed through listening.

Interestingly, another ramification of this machlokes is whether a person may be yotzei SMVT by listening to his friend read SMVT. The Ohel Yaakov (SMVT 6:4) cites Rav Chaim Kanievsky and Rav Yosef Lieberman who rule that one may not be yotzei SMVT by simply listening to his friend. On the other hand, Gam Ani Odecha (SMVT, Siman 9) cites Rav A. Kulik who notes that the Kaf HaChayim disagrees and allows a person to hear SMVT from his friend.


Next Week’s Topic: When may a person start performing Sh’nayim Mikra V’Echad Targum for the upcoming parshah?

Rabbi Ephraim Glatt, Esq. is Associate Rabbi at the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills and a practicing litigation attorney. Questions? Comments? Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..