Is the obligation to read the Torah (or hear it read) an individual or communal obligation?

A possible nafka mina might be if one missed the Torah reading -- does he need to assemble a minyan to read it later? Or was it enough that the congregation read it?


3 Answers 3


The Chayei Adam (31:11) writes:

צ״ע אם כלם שמעו קריאת התורה ויש איזה ב״א שלא שמעו אם מותר לקרות עוד הפעם בשבילם ול״ד לפריסת שמע בסי׳ ס״ט דהתם כל יחיד מחויב אותה ברכה אבל הכא החיוב רק שישמע קריאת התורה וחכמים תקנו שיברך משום כבוד הצבור וי״ל דלא תקנו אלא כשכל הצבור חייבין בקריאה אבל לא בשביל יחיד וצ״ע.

It seems that קריאת התורה is an individual obligation, yet we only read the Torah if there is a minyan of men who all did not yet fulfill their obligation. (The Biur Halacha (143:1), however, cites the Ran in Megilla as implying that the Torah may be read so long as at least most of the minyan still needs to fulfill the obligation.)

When I was in yeshiva, I recall being part of a minyan assembled in the afternoon so that the Rosh Yeshiva, who had just arrived from Israel, could hear קריאת התורה.

  • There can also be an option of findind another Minyan that has not yet done Kriyas HaTorah. May 17, 2011 at 20:06

The answer to this question lies in Meseches Megillah. There is a Mishnah there that can possibly be interpreted as saying it is an individual obligation However, another Mishnah implies the opposite, and in fact, the Ramban there (in Milchamos haShem), explicitly says it is only a communal obligation.

R' Chaim Soloveitchik held it was a individual obligation and would often assemble a minyan to recite kerias haTorah. When his Mechutan, R'Eliyahu Feinstein, pointed out this Ramban to him, he attempted to re-interpret it.

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    Can you cite which mishnyahos in particular? Or a reference to the Milchamos?
    – Curiouser
    May 17, 2011 at 20:14
  • The Mishna doesnt imply that is an individual obligation. The Mishna lists obligations that need a minyan and doesnt list Megilla reading. The Baal Hameor infers that unlike Rav (Megillah 5a) we dont hold that a minyan in necessary. The Ramban in Milchamos says that the Mishna isnt a conclusive proof, since perhaps it omitted Megilla reading not because it doesnt need a minyan but because it is a personal obligation as opposed to other mitzvos in the Mishna which are communal obligations. Included in the Mishna is Torah reading, so Ramban holds that Torah readng is a communal responsibility.
    – mevaqesh
    Apr 6, 2015 at 20:07
  • Which Mishna do you feel implies that Torah reading is a personal obligation?
    – mevaqesh
    Apr 6, 2015 at 20:09

According to the Gemara, Ezra Hasofer established the practice of reading the Torah on Monday and Thursday mornings and Shabbos afternoons. These days were picked because Monday and Thursday were traditionally days that the Jews would go to the nearest towns to shop and trade. Also, this way the people would never go for more than three days without getting spiritual sustenance from the Torah.

Harav Moshe Feinstein ZATZAL rules that even B'Dieved one does not fulfill his obligation if he misses a word and he must find a way to make up what he missed.(Igros Moshe O.C. 4:23; 4:40-4-5)

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