Wednesday, March 12, 2008

how often to hear parshas zachor

The Chasam Sofer (Even haEzer #119) writes that the amount of time that elapses before forgetfulness sets in is one year. Assuming the reading of parshas zachor from a Torah text is a din d’orasya, it therefore must be repeated once a year to fulfill the obligation of “zachor – lo tishkach”, not forgetting Amalek. How then do we fulfill the mitzvah in a leap year when more than 12 months have passed since the last reading of zachor? The Ch”S answers that the shiur is one year, not 12 months. During a leap year, the shiur extends by a month.

My impression is that this Ch”S is relatively well known, but less well known is the Sefer haChinuch who addresses this same issue. Pointing to the fact that the minhag in Eretz Yisrael was to lein the entire Torah over three years instead of one, the Sefer haChinuch writes that there is no obligation to hear zachor on an annual basis. How often must one hear the parsha? The Minchas Chinuch suggests that perhaps even hearing it once a lifetime would fulfill the obligation.


  1. i know of a rov who wouldn't let a bar mitzvah boy lain zachor in a leap year b/c he thought it was D'oraisa once a year and you couldn't rely on ki seitzei.

    on the side, funny story regarding parshas zachor: they once asked the brisker rov about these people who went around all shabbos to hear parshas zachor 60, 70 times. the brisker rov said that was crazy- 5 or 6 times is good enough.

  2. that is funny!
    I actually have a bar mitzvah to go to this shabbos - I'm curious to see what they will do

  3. Regarding the hava amina of the Ch"S, why is a leap year the only source of a problem? When we read Zachor next year, it will be on 11 Adar, 3 days more than a year from this year's leining. It seems that the shiur of a year is lav davka, anyway.

    I know of at least two cases where a bar mitzvah boy was not permitted to lein zachor. Ki Seitzei would seem to not work unless the ba'al kri'ah and listeners both have intent to be motzi/yotzei, so it's not really something that's worth relying on. (Although the Magen Avraham [cited and rejected by MB 685:16 for an unrelated reason] says that one can be yotzei a"y hadchak using the leining of Purim, so perhaps kavanah for mitzvas z'chira is not m'akeiv?)

    When I was in Sha'alvim, about 5 or 6 different ba'alei kri'ah leined Zachor consecutively, although I don't understand why this was done.

  4. The Ch"S also doesn't like the Ki Teitzei idea. IIRC at KBY they also had a few ba'alei kriya. I think the motivation was to have one lein ashkenazis, one havara sfradis, one teimani, etc. to be yotzei with every havarah.

  5. There's something really problematic with being more frum than your rabbeim. My roshei yeshiva did not wear tcheiles, heard Zachor once and only once, and didn't go around saying that this or that sin was the root cause of the holocaust or Chevron or whatever. Does that mean that my orthodoxy is fossilized, incapable of growth and change, and unadaptable? Could be. But it seems to me that knowing what not to do is as valuable as knowing what to do. Lo asru lanu es hayonah is as important as lo hitiru lonu es ha'oreiv.

  6. I think in general you are correct, but it depends on the individual. Do you think R' Chaim Brisker did not innovate chumros that he never saw in his rebbeim's home? I think he undoubtedly did, but he was R' Chaim Brisker. The problem is when you are Joe Ploni and think you are R' Chaim Brisker, then things get out of hand.