Tuesday, May 01, 2007

shome'a k'oneh and a question that stumps me

If you’ve been following the past two posts, you have a nice piece of Brisker lomdus distinguishing a chovas yachid which one fulfills through shome’a k’oneh from a chovas tzibur. By a chovas yachid, e.g. hallel, each individual has an independent obligation to recite hallel which can be fulfilled by listening to someone else – shome’a k’oneh – provided that both parties share the same level of obligation. Since through shome'a k'oneh someone is acting as me, that person must be obligated in the same manner that I am.

By a chovas hatzibur, a communal obligation, no one person has an individual obligation to do the mitzvah. All that needs to happen is for the community to see that the mitzvah is performed, irrespective of who the performer is or their level of obligation.

The Rav used this to explain why someone with a non-Biblical obligation can form a zimun with someone who has a Biblical obligation to bentch - since zimun is a chiyuv on the group rather than the individual, we look at the mitzvah act, not the level of obligation of the one bentching. We now also easily understand the gemara (Megillah 23) that a minor or woman can read k’riyas hatorah on behalf of the tzibur. Even though they have no personal obligation in talmud torah, a minor or woman can create a cheftza shel mitzvah of k'riyas hatorah.

And now I arrive at my question and no answer: How can k’riyas hatorah be a paradigmatic case of a chovas hatzibur that does not need to fit into the rules of shome’a k’oneh when the very source of the principle of shome’a k’oneh is k’riyas hatorah!? See Sukkah 38 which derives from the fact that Shafan read the Torah before King Yoshiyahu, but the Navi ascribes that reading to Yoshiyahu himself, that shome’a k’oneh!

As easy answer would be that shome’a k’oneh defines King Yoshiyahu as the reader, but being a reader is itself not the mitzvah – the mitzvah is on the tzibur as a whole to listen to the reading, and for that we do not need shome’a k’oneh. But this answer is wrong, as the Rosh (Megillah ch. 3) writes that one called to the Torah must read along with the shaliach tzibur because shome’a k’oneh does not suffice to define one as the reader – if the Rosh is right, the only reason the gemara would invoke shome’a k’oneh is to explain how the tzibur fulfills their obligation!

So how does k’riyas hatorah work – is it a chovas hatzibur which does not involve shome’a k’oneh, as the Rav’s approach and the gemara in Megillah indicates, or must it involve shome’a k’oneh on some level, as the gemara in Sukkah indicates? Anyone have any ideas – I’m stuck!


  1. There is a very basic distinction between the typical case of Kriyat Hatorah and the case of Yoshiyahu. Kriyat Hatorah b'tsibbur is a new entity altogether, it is a davar shebiqdusha, etc. This may be why it has different parameters, and shomea k'oneh is not necessary to fulfill an individual hiyuv because the hiyuv is in fact communal.

    But you can't necessarily extend this concept to all Torah readings! when it comes to Yoshiyahu, he is merely an individual having the Torah read to him. He is fulfilling his personal hiyuv of learning Torah, and therefore shomea k'oneh comes into play.

  2. >>>he is merely an individual having the Torah read to him. He is fulfilling his personal hiyuv of learning Torah, and therefore shomea k'oneh comes into play.

    Why do you need shome'a k'oneh to fulfill talmud torah - reciting the words is not a requirement? Shome'a k'oneh only applies to mitzvos requiring a recitation - e.g. see the 'mipi hashemua' in the name of the Rav regarding sefiras ha'omer on p. 23 here: http://www.ou.org/pdf/mesorah/mes13.pdf
    The same idea is discussed in R' Shternbruch's Moazin u'Zmanin as well with other examples. My BIL in his sefer Bigdei Shesh notes the minhag after leil shavuos is to listen to birchas hatorah and be yotzei through shome'a k'oneh, but each person reads the pesukim to do their own talmud torah after the brachos. He proposes a different hesber, but I think the reason is because T"T is not a mitzvah of reciting pesukim, it is a mitzvah of learning, and you can't invoke shome'a k'oneh for that (nor is there any need to).

  3. Still, though, you are comparing tsibur to yahid, and the basis for this comparison seems tenuous to me.

  4. anon13:23 PM

    Didn't R'Chayim supposedly maintain that kriyas ha-Torah was a chovas yachid with stories of him going to great lengths to hear a monday or thursday kriyas ha-Torah? I remember from YU when his einekel, R'Twersky, would also walk into a later minyan just for kriyas ha-Torah on a monday or thursday and then leave (presumably having davenned already). This doesn't resolve the question between the gemara in brachos and sukkah but just a shitah seemed relevant.

  5. Even if it's a hovat yahid, it is still a davar shebiqdusha with berachot,etc., and therefore a totally different halachic entity than, say, a simple reading before the king.

  6. Anon1,
    The Ramban in Milchamos in Meg is pretty clear that it is a chovas hatzibur, and the Rav in Shiurim l'Zecher Aba Mari refers to it as a chovas hatzibur in the shiur on zimun. Rabbi Rakefet (I have not seen this inside) indicates that the Rav's actions were in deference to R' Chaim, though he held m'dina that the Ramban was correct.
    Rabbi Maroof - so what mitzvah was being performed by that reading before the king that required invoking shome'a k'oneh. It's not talmud torah, because that does not require reciting from a text. It's not the formal mitzvah of keriyas hatorah. So why does the gemara need to introduce the principle in that context?

  7. Is it possible that theis is the special Mitzvah of Krya that the melech has?
    see Devarim 15:19

    I am not clear if it is the mitzvah of hakhel or a special mitzvah the king has to read. In Mitzvah Asseh 17 rambam talks about writing. In Hil Melachim 3:1 he uses this passuk as proof that it should be with him all the time. i guess not as a talisman but to be read. That then is a mitzva on the melech. Tzarich Iyun.

  8. Sorry that is Devarim 17:19

  9. The Lechem mishna quotes a tosefta that uses Vekara Bo to prohibit anyone but the king to read from this sefer Torah. This sounds like a Lav haba miklal asseh.The point of the LM is that Rambam does not bring this din.

    Food for thought. but the more I think about it that was the case of shafan and Yoshyahu.

  10. I had always wondered why no one seemed to interpret "v'qara bo kol yeme hayav" as an actual mitsvah on the melech, a la the simple reading of the pasuq.