Question: When may a person start performing Sh’nayim Mikra for the upcoming parshah?

 Short Answer: While some rule that you may only start on Sunday, many allow you to start from the previous Shabbos after Minchah. There are also disputes whether this means after Z’man Minchah G’dolah or only after the individual himself davened Minchah, and whether this same rule applies when Yom Tov falls out on Shabbos.


I. The Weekly Parshah

The Gemara (B’rachos 8a-8b) states that “l’olam” (“always”) a person should recite Sh’nayim Mikra V’Echad Targum (“SMVT”) in order to “complete” the weekly Torah leining together with the community. But when does this obligation begin? May one perform SMVT for the entire year on Parshas B’reishis?

Tosafos (B’rachos 8b) writes that one may begin SMVT for the upcoming week from “the start that the upcoming parshah is read,” which Tosafos elaborates means “from the preceding Shabbos Minchah.” In other words, since we read the upcoming parshah at Minchah of the previous Shabbos, one may begin SMVT at that time. The Rosh (B’rachos) and the Hagahos Maimoniyos (Hilchos T’filah 13, shin) agree. It is unclear from the words of Tosafos, the Rosh, and Hagahos Maimoniyos whether one may start SMVT after the “time” that the upcoming parshah could be read, i.e., after Z’man Minchah G’dolah, or only after the community actually davened Minchah, or after the individual himself davened Minchah.

The Tur (285:3), on the other hand, rules that SMVT may only be started from “Yom Rishon” (Sunday) of the week the parshah will be read. Notably, the Beis Yosef cites the source of the Tur as Tosafos and the Rosh. This is confusing, as Tosafos and the Rosh ruled that one may even start on Shabbos afternoon. The Darchei Moshe (ibid) cites the source of the Tur as the Kol Bo, who holds that you may not start SMVT on Shabbos afternoon, as the previous week’s parshah was read earlier in the day.

II. Shabbos Afternoon

The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 285:3) copies the Tur, ruling that SMVT may only be started from Yom Rishon (Sunday) of the week the parshah will be read. However, the Mishnah B’rurah (7) and the Shaar HaTziyun (12) hold that the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch is “lav davka,” as the language of Tosafos and the Rosh are clear that SMVT may be started from the time that the upcoming parshah is read, i.e., Shabbos afternoon. Thus, the Mishnah B’rurah rules that one may start at Shabbos afternoon Minchah.

However, it is still unclear what “Shabbos Minchah” means. The Ohel Yaakov (SMVT, 5:1) cites numerous opinions on this issue. Rav Chaim Kanievsky zt”l ruled that in order to begin SMVT, the individual himself must have already davened Shabbos afternoon Minchah and heard K’rias HaTorah at Minchah. The Sh’miras Shabbos K’Hilchasah (42:60), on the other hand, rules that it is sufficient, according to these Rishonim who allow you to begin SMVT on Shabbos afternoon, that it has reached “Z’man” Minchah, a half hour after midday. Indeed, this was likewise the opinion of Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l.

The Ohel Yaakov ultimately rules, based on his conversations with various g’dolim, including Rav Avigdor Nebenzahl shlita, that one should not start SMVT until he himself already davened Minchah and heard K’rias HaTorah at Minchah. However, he cites the Riv’vos Ephraim, who allows one to start after Z’man Minchah if he knows he will not otherwise have time to recite SMVT that week.

Despite these lenient rulings, it should be noted that some poskim, including the Nishmas Shabbos (2:342) rule strictly and do not allow a person to start SMVT until Sunday.

III. Even Earlier

As an aside, there is an interesting Sephardic/Libyan minhag cited in the sefer Vayikra Avraham (Rav Avraham Adadi, d. 1874, Kuntres Makom SheNahagu 2). Immediately after “s’udas Shacharis” on Shabbos morning, the men would go back to shul to learn a set program, including SMVT for the upcoming parshah next week. It appears from the rest of the paragraph that this learning seder occurred before midday, implying that SMVT may even be recited earlier than chatzos ha’yom of the previous Shabbos. Rav Adadi himself disagrees with this minhag, as the Shulchan Aruch writes that one should not start SMVT until Sunday. Nevertheless, it is clear that some had the minhag to start SMVT before midday.

Interestingly, Rav Shmuel Kamenetsky shlita (Kovetz Halachos, Shabbos 1, 19:7) writes that a person who recites SMVT earlier than the proper time (i.e., before Shabbos afternoon Minchah), still fulfills the mitzvah b’dieved and does not need to repeat SMVT. This is based on another ruling of the Shulchan Aruch (285:4), that one may perform SMVT even later than some opinions in the Gemara intended. Thus, clearly, there may also be exceptions to the “earliest” time for SMVT.

IV. When Yom Tov and Shabbos Collide

But what about when there is Yom Tov or Chol HaMoed on Shabbos? May one start doing SMVT for the next parshah at the normal time (i.e., after Minchah, or the Sunday after, the first time that the parshah is read), even though the next parshah will not be read for two weeks (because Yom Tov or Chol HaMoed replaces the next week’s regular parshah Torah reading)? Or does he need to wait until after Yom Tov to begin SMVT for the upcoming parshah?

The Sheivet HaLevi (10:78:1) holds that one may start SMVT for the next parshah at the normal time even in this scenario, as the trigger for allowing SMVT is the fact that the new parshah has been recited at least once (at Shabbos Minchah). This is likewise the opinion of Rav Chaim Kanievsky (Kovetz Ma Tovu Ohalecha, Vol. 20, p. 73) and the Nishmas Shabbos (2:337). [Note, though, that in Gam Ani Odecha, siman 31, Rav Chaim Kanievsky was less absolute, ruling that “perhaps” you may start as normal].

Others disagree. Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv (cited in Kovetz Ma Tovu Ohalecha, ibid) rules that one may not start SMVT in this case until the actual week that the parshah will be read. However, he does permit one to start SMVT starting Shabbos afternoon (or Sunday) even if the last days of Yom Tov are during that week. Additionally, the K’nei Bosem (1:16) writes that when we read a different leining on Shabbos, i.e., for Yom Tov or Chol HaMoed, the upcoming parshah is not considered “this week’s parshah” yet until that actual week. However, he rules that you may start SMVT on Shabbos afternoon (or Sunday) of a week where Shavuos falls out mid-week.

Next Week’s Topic: If someone did not finish Sh’nayim Mikra V’Echad Targum for the previous week, should he first finish last week’s parshah or should he first do Sh’nayim Mikra V’Echad Targum for the current week’s parshah and then go back and finish last week’s 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..