R. Yisrael Meir Kagan writes that every Jewish man needs to know the weekly Torah portion and understand it. He says that the reason why all of Israel reads the verses twice and the translation once (shenayim mikra v'echad targum) is that doing so leads one to understand the Torah. If that doesn't help you understand then you you have to understand it on your own; otherwise it does not count as learning:

Likutei Amarim Chapter 5

ומה שנהגו בכל ישראל לקרא שנים מקרא ואחד תרגום היינו משום שעל ידי זה יתבונן בהמקרא ויתן לב להבין אבל אם לא השיג ידיעה על ידי זה מחויב להתבונן ולדעת ואז יהיה נחשב לו שלמד מקרא דבלאו הכי אם לא הבין מה שאמר ומה שלמד לא נחשב ללימוד כלל

The choice of wording here is interesting. He describes shenayim mikra as נהגו בכל ישראל, which implies that it is a strong minhag (custom) but not a formal rabbinic obligation. While the language of the Talmud1 does not necessarily indicate that it is a formal obligation, it is codified as such in Mishneh Torah2 and Shulchan Aruch3.

Should we then assume that R. Kagan was simply being imprecise in his wording, and actually agrees with these codifications that it is an obligation (especially as Likutei Amarim is not a formal halachic work), or does he in fact hold that shenayim mikra is "just" a minhag? (There is not necessarily that much practical ramification whether it is a minhag or a chiyuv.)

1. Berachot 8b אמר רב הונא בר יהודה אמר רבי אמי לעולם ישלים אדם פרשיותיו עם הצבור שנים מקרא ואחד תרגום

2. Hilchot Tefilah 13:25 אע"פ שאדם שומע כל התורה כולה בכל שבת בצבור חייב לקרות לעצמו בכל שבוע ושבוע סדר של אותה שבת שנים מקרא ואחד תרגום

3. O.C. 285:1 אע"פ שאדם שומע כל התורה כולה בכל שבת בצבור חייב לקרות לעצמו בכל שבוע פרשת אותו שבוע שנים מקרא ואחד תרגום

  • Perhaps he is saying that it is not just codified, but is also widely practiced, unlike other laws which aren't "widely practiced". (before you ask what laws aren't widely practiced - off the top of my head lashon hara is something which many aren't careful about.)
    – user9643
    Jul 17, 2018 at 1:52
  • 5
    @Ploni I'm not convinced Shnayim Mikra would be my go-to "everyone does it" command.
    – Double AA
    Jul 17, 2018 at 2:02
  • Here's the context of this quote, BTW (including the preceding sentence which is omitted): dirshu.co.il/קריאת-שנים-מקרא-ללא-הבנה-אינה-נחשבת-לל Jul 17, 2018 at 2:04
  • @DoubleAA Agreed - I know many people who don't do it. But I was suggesting maybe he felt it was (in his location).
    – user9643
    Jul 17, 2018 at 2:06
  • @Alex tora-forum.co.il/viewtopic.php?style=1&t=454#p3340. Better approach than mine. Jul 17, 2018 at 2:06

2 Answers 2


The Mishna Berurah, which is also authored by the Chafetz Chaim, seems to imply that שנים מקרא ואחד תרגום is not a minhag, but is an obligation.

I am inferring this based on his comments in OC 285:2:4

Where the SA says that Rashi counts as Targum.

בפירוש רש"י - שהוא מפרש את המקרא כמו שמפרש התרגום ויותר ממנו, אבל אם קראה בשאר לעז שהוא מפרש רק את המלות לחוד לא יצא ידי חובתו במקום תרגום לפי שהתרגום מפרש כמה דברים שאין להבין מתוך המקרא:

Translation is my own:

“That is [Rashi] explains the verse like the Targum and even more so. However, if he [the reader] would read it in any other language, that is only translates the word, he has not fulfilled his obligation in place of Targum. Since the Targum explains many things that cannot be understand simply from the verse”

  • 4
    The Shulchan Arukh writes (664:6) אין אדם יוצא ידי חובתו בערבה שבלולב even though the arava is 'only' a minhag, so I don't think your proof is that compelling.
    – Double AA
    May 21, 2020 at 21:17

Sometimes the terminology of minhag describes the way in which people do something, not whether or not it’s an obligation. It’s clear from the gemara in brachos that it’s an obligation

  • Is לעולם ישליש אדם את מעותיו an obligation?
    – Alex
    Dec 23, 2019 at 19:09
  • @Alex pretty sure it’s just practical advice, I don’t think it’s a straight up Halacha.
    – user20488
    Dec 23, 2019 at 19:52
  • So why wouldn’t the same apply to לעולם ישלים אדם פרשיותיו עם הציבור?
    – Alex
    Dec 23, 2019 at 20:35
  • 2
    Your answer says that it’s clear from the Gemara in Berachos that it’s an obligation. If you mean instead that it’s clear from the Shulchan Aruch then I would recommend that you edit your answer accordingly.
    – Alex
    Dec 23, 2019 at 21:11
  • 1
    @Alex correct, that was what I originally meant
    – user20488
    Dec 23, 2019 at 21:21

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