Reading the Parsha and the Targum
- Chazal tell us (and this is the halachah in the Shulchan Aruch) that a person
should complete the parsha of the week (reading it twice) and the Targum (once)
every week…and that those who do this will have length of days and years. By “always”
they mean that even a person who is pressured by a heavy schedule of learning
Torah and has no time—even he should be careful to read the parsha with the Targum
as required. The repetitious “length of days and years” comes to suggest that
his life will be good as well as long. Rav Bibi bar Abaye was descended from the
children of Eli Hacohen, whose descendents were destined to live short lives.
The Gemara tells us that since on Rosh Hashanah the books of life and death are
open, and completing the parshas is a segula for length of days, he made
a point of completing the reading of all the parshas of the year by erev Rosh
Hashannah so that he might be inscribed in the book of life immediately.
- Even talmidei chochomim that are involved in learning are required
to read the parsha (twice) and the targum every week.
- The best way to do this mitzvah is to complete reading the parsha before eating
the Shabbos meal on Friday night. (This is one of the things that Rebbe commanded
his sons before he died.) Nevertheless, it is clearly inappropriate to postpone
the meal until after chatzos, especially if there are guests, in order
to do this. Lechatchila, a person who has not yet completed the reading of the parsha
and the targum should rise early and complete it before he goes to the synagogue
on Shabbos morning.
- The parsha should be read carefully and with understanding. It should not
be done as though it were a burden. Anything that is not understood should be
examined in the commentaries. It has been said in the name of the Shlah Hakodesh
that merely to read the parsha without understanding is not enough. A person should
contemplate what he reads: The mitzvos, the mussar and the good midos that
can be learned from the parsha.
- From the words of Chazal, it appears that the weekly reading of the parsha
and the targum originates with them, but when Moshe Rabbeinu made the takanah
to read the Torah, he certainly made the takanah that requires each
person to read the parsha twice and targum (once), and when a person does so with
understanding, he certainly fulfils the mitzvah of learning Torah.
- Even those who are accustomed to stand during the Torah reading may lechatchilah
read the parsha and the targum sitting down.