The Talmud in Brachos (8a) tells us, “a person should always complete the reading of the weekly Torah portion with the congregation, twice from the mikra and once from the Targum.” Mikra means the text, i.e., the actual Torah account. Targum means the translation, referring to the Aramaic paraphrase of Onkelos. Nowadays, most authorities say that the commentary of Rashi, and possibly other commentaries, likewise fulfills this obligation, which is called Shnayim Mikra v’Echad Targum (twice in the text and once in translation).
Human nature being what it is, a person is most likely to start learning Shnayim Mikra v’Echad Targum on or after Simchas Torah, so that he begins with the first parsha, Bereishis. But let’s say one didn’t. It’s a weekly obligation, so one doesn’t have to start with Bereishis. One can join in any time. And parshas Shemos is the perfect jumping-on point. Why? We’ll tell you.
Shnayim Mikra v’Echad Targum.
In Hebrew: שנים מקרא ואחד תרגום
The abbreviation for this in Hebrew: שמו”ת
The name of the parsha: שמות
In fact, the Levush comments on the first words of parshas Shemos:
… ואלה שמות בני ישראל
V’eileh Shemos Bnei Yisroel…
And these are the names of the Children of Israel…
That the letters of the Hebrew phrase stand for
V’chayiv adam likros haparsha shnayim mikra v’echad targum – v’zeh chayavim kol b’nei Yisrael
A person is obligated to review the Torah portion twice in the text and once in translation, and this is an obligation for all Jewry.
The Baal HaTurim extrapolates the entire verse as follows:
V’adam asher lomeid haseder shnayim mikra v’echad targum b’kol naim yashir, yichyeh shanim rabbos aruchim l’olam
A person who learns the weekly Torah portion twice in the text and once in translation in a sweet, steady voice will live many long years.
To facilitate the study of Shnayim Mikra v’Echad Targum, OU Torah offers The OU’s Shnayim Mikra, featuring seven weekly shiurim (one on each aliyah), an accessible text synopsis, plus the Torah text and translation. Get the first aliyah of parshas Shemos here.
OU Torah also offers Shnayim Mikra via a daily email. The synopsis will arrive in your mailbox each day, and you can access the shiur with a single click.
Didn’t start with Bereishis? The perfect time is now!
Follow Shnayim Mikra and other great parsha series on OU Torah or by using the OU Torah app for iOS and Android.