Shabbos - An Island in Time
Chazal (Megillah 32) made a takkanah that Parshas Ki Savo always be read before Rosh HaShanah so that 'tichlah shanah v'kililoseha.' Let the previous year and its curses conclude, and the new year begin with its blessings. However, we do find in this week's parsha some wonderful brachos as well, and it is worth paying attention to them and seeing what we can do to bring them into our lives.
"U'va'oo alecha kol ha'brachos ha'ayleh v'hisigucha, ki sishma b'kol Hashem Elokecha. Baruch atah ba'ir, Baruch ata ba'sadeh .."
"And all of these blessings will come upon you and reach you when you listen to the voice of Hashem your G-d. You will be blessed in the city, you will be blessed in the field."
The Pasuk first says a general statement: 'All these blessings will come upon you . if you observe Hashem's Mitzvos ." Then the p'sukim go on to specify in detail the particular brachos. And while all mitzvos certainly bring a person Hashem's brachos, the S'fas Emes suggests that 'ki sishma .' means especially the mitzvah of observing Shabbos. Because, as we say in Lecha Dodi "Likras Shabbos l'chu v'nailecha, ke he m'kor hab'racha." 'Let us go forth towards the Shabbos, for it is the source of blessing." All the blessings that we look for and hope for during the week come to us through Shabbos. Shabbos is the source of all blessings.
That is what our pasuk means. If you observe Hashem's mitzvos - in particular the one of Shabbos, then 'kol h'brachos ha'aileh' - all these blessings - will come upon you. And as the six days of the week unfold, you will be blessed in the city and in the field . your children and your livestock etc. This is why there are six brachos after the general bracha. The general all-inclusive bracha comes on Shabbos, and that is followed by six brachos, one for each day of the week. This is also why we say these p'sukim in "V'yitain lecha" at the end of Ma'ariv on Motza'ai Shabbos. That is exactly what they are talking about. Do you want to get Hashem's brachos? The way to get them is through Shabbos. Shabbos is the source of all blessings.
One of the fascinating brachos of Shabbos is described in Meseches Shabbos Daf 113. The Gemara tells us that taking large steps (pesiyah gassah), removes 1/500th of the 'light of a person's eyes' - his vision. Then the Gemara says that there is a remedy for this vision problem: '. and it is restored through the Friday night Kiddush." In fact, based on this Gemara, there developed a minhag to look at the wine or actually to even place a drop of the kiddush wine into one's eyes. (See Tur and Beis Yoseif Orach Chaim 269 as to whether this is permitted in light of the prohibition of refuah, healing, on Shabbos.)
While the discussion of the Poskim regarding this Gemara certainly implies that we are talking about a real vision problem and a segulah for its remedy, it is interesting to note that the Me'iri on the Gemara learns that it is not so much the 'kiddush' or the wine of the kiddush that is the remedy, as much as it is the peace and tranquility of Shabbos that restores the vision. Perhaps, according to the derech of the Me'iri, we can offer the following homiletical interpretation of the Gemara.
Life is a rat race. It always has been, and it certainly is even more so today. We spend our week running here and running there, trying to make a living, trying to exercise our control over things. We are trying to make them turn out as well as possible. These are the 'large steps' Chazal are talking about. Taking these 'large steps' truly has a negative impact on a person. By taking these 'pesiyos gasos' we run the risk of losing our perspective, of corrupting our values, and of distorting our vision. As Chazal say: Taking large steps reduces a person's vision.
But there is a remedy. Shabbos. An island in time. A time to step back and regain our focus on what is important. A time to connect to Hashem, to His Torah and to its values.
Shabbos is the time when we can regain our vision.
Chazal tells us that HaShem told Moshe: "Moshe, I have a good gift in my treasury, and Shabbos is its name, and I wish to give it to the Jewish people. Go tell them about it." (Beitzah 16a)
May we begin the new year with a renewed appreciation of how Shabbos is not simply an obligation, but a special gift that Hashem gives us. A gift that brings with it all the blessings we so desperately want and need, and a gift that can help us restore our vision, our values and our perspective.
Shnayim Mikra v'Echad Targum
The Gemara in Berachos (8A) tells us that a person should always complete the Torah portion of the week with the congregation, reading the Hebrew text twice and the Targum1 once.2 The Shulchan Aruch3 holds that this is an obligation (on every male), and not just a nice minhag. There are 2 methods mentioned in the Achronim as to how one may fulfill his obligation. Method #1) Read each posuk twice followed by the Targum on that posuk. Method #2) Read each segment (until the letter "peh"-a parsha p'sucha, or "samech"-a parsha stuma, or a place where a new topic begins) twice, followed by the Targum.4 One may not read the Targum before the Hebrew text. If one read the Targum after reading the Hebrew text only once, it is good b'dieved.5
What qualifies as Targum?
To fulfill ones obligation of reading "Targum" one cannot merely read a literal translation of the text. Rather the translation must explain and interpret the text. The translation that meets this criterion is Targum Onkelos.6 One can also fulfill his obligation of Targum by reading the commentary of Rashi. However, those pesukim that Rashi does not comment upon must be read a third time.7 A G- fearing person should do both Targum Onkelos and Rashi.8
When is the proper time for one to fulfill his obligation?
One can begin to fulfill his obligation as soon as the tzibur begins to read that parsha. Therefore one can already start reading the week's parsha after mincha of the previous Shabbos.9 It is best to finish the parsha before one sits down to eat his seuda.10 If this can not be done he should finish it before mincha on Shabbos. There is a dispute amongst the poskim as to what is meant by "mincha." Some Poskim say that it means from when the individual davened mincha (and heard Krias Hatorah).11 Others hold that it means Minchah Gedolah, regardless of when the individual actually davened.12 B'dieved if one did not read it before mincha on Shabbos, he can read it through Tuesday of the upcoming week.13 If this is not possible he should at least finish before parshas V'zos Habracha is read on Simcahs Torah. Parshas B'reishis may start being read after the tzibbur reads it on Simchas Torah.
How to "Catch Up"
If one falls behind and has to read this week's parsha and last week's parsha, the Maharsham14 holds that one reads this week's parsha first and then last week's parsha. Others hold that one should do last week's parsha first and the this week's parsha.15
· If Yom Tov falls out on Shabbos, the regular parsha of the week is pushed off for the Yom Tov Kriah. In this instance one should not do Shnayim Mikrah. of the forthcoming parsha prior to Yom Tov.16
· The proper time to begin Parshas V'zos Habracha is from Hoshana Rabbah or Shmini Atzeres.17
· The preferred time of doing Shnayim Mikrah. is during the daytime, and Thursday and Friday evenings.18
The gemara (Brochos 8B) tells us that anyone who completes the parsha with the tzibbur will have his days lengthened. Perhaps one of the reasons why this halacha is shown such great importance is because it was instituted by Moshe Rabbeinu himself. (This is according to the Aruch Hashulchan). As Rosh Hashanah approaches it would behoove everyone of us to re-examine our method of fulfilling this very significant mitzvah. Perhaps in view of some of the details mentioned above we may find room to improve in this area and through this be zoche to a kesiva v'chasima Tova.
1 Targum is Aramaic interpretive translation on the Torah composed by Onkelos.
2 This is known as Shnayim Mikrah Vechad Targum.
3 O.C. 285
4 M.B. 285 sk2
5 Shaar Hatzion 285:10
6 If one doesn't understand Targum Onkelos, some Poskim say that he has not fulfilled his obligation unless he does the commentary of Rashi. (letter written by Chofetz Chaim quoted in sefer Birur Halacha 285:22 p.58; Harav Dovid Zucker shlita in the name of Hagaon Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky ZT"L) If one cannot do Rashi he should at least read a translation that explains the text in accordance with the Rishonim (ex: Living Torah, Artscroll, R'Hirsch). Other Poskim (Harav Shmuel Fuerst shlita, Harav Efraim Greenblatt shlita) say that one should try his best with Onkelos even if he doesn't understand all of it, rather than resorting to another translation. See seer Halichos Shlomo quoting Hagaon R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Ch. 12; Dvar halacha 48) that even if one isn't fluent in his understanding of Targum Onkelos he has still fulfilled his obligation.
7 M.B. 285 s.k. 5
8 O.C. 285:2
9 The Pri Migadim and Kitzos Hashulchan (Siman 72) are in doubt whether one could fulfill his obligation on the previous Shabbos (after mincha) and hold that perhaps one must wait until Sunday. The Birur Halacha (285:24) brings many Rishonim who hold that you can't begin until Sunday. However the Psak of the Mishna Berura is that one may fulfill his obligation from Mincha the week before.
10 O.C. 285:4
11 Kitzos Hashulchan(72), Hagaon R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ZT"L (Halichos Shlomo 12:35) and Hagaon R' Chaim Kanievsky shlita (quoted in Taarich Yisroel p.367)
12 Hagaon R' Yosef Shalom Elyashiv shlita (quoted in Bichurey Chaim p.56 footnote 20) Hagaon R' Chaim Pinchus Sheinberg shlita (quoted in Taarich Yisroel, ibid), Harav Shmuel Fuerst shlita, see M.B. sk 10 and Shmiras Shabbos Kihilchasa Ch. 42 footnote 218.
13 See Kitzos Hashulchan 72, and Halichos Shlomo (ch. 12 in Dvar Halacha: 46), that it's better to finish it on Shabbos (even after Mincha) than during the week. See M.B. 285 sk 12 that seems to hold like this as well.
14 Volume I, 213 just like by tefillah where you do the Tashlumin ("make up tefillah") after the regular tefillah.
15 Kitzos Hashulchan
16 Hagaon R' Moshe Feinstein ZT"L (quoted by Rav Shmuel Fuerst shlit"a)
17 see M.B. 285 s.k. 18 and 669 sk4
18 See Shaarei Teshuvah (285) that the Talmidei Ari were machmir regarding Thursday night. However others (Ben Ish Chai Parshas Pikudei, 7, Yesod V'shoresh Havodah) are lenient with regards to Thursday night.
 Vayikra 25:14
 Teshuvos Rema, Siman 10
 Shor Harziyon 648-76, See also Ahavas Chesed 5-6
 Teshuvos Rema, Siman 10
 Ahavas Chesed 5-7
 R' Fuerst Shlita Quoting Dayan Fisher zt"l and yb"lch Hagaon R' Elyashav Shlita, R' Dovid Cohen Shlita
 Ahavas Chesed 5, Footnote 12
 Baba Metzia 71a
 Ahavas Chesed 5-6
 Baba Metzia 71a
 See Journal Kol Torah Choveres 42, page 301
 Choshen Mishpat, Teshuva 31
 Journal Kol Torah ibid
 Hilchos Matnas Aniyim 10-
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