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Shabbat Parashat Tetzaveh| 5767

Ask the Rabbi



Question:   I may have to be out of town on Shabbat Zachor in a place where there is no shul to hear the reading of Parashat Zachor. Is it sufficient that I heard the same p’sukim on Parashat Ki Teitzei and will read about the actions of Amalek on Purim morning?
 
Answer:   Many sources indicate that there is a mitzva from the Torah to read Parashat Zachor out of a sefer Torah,from the end of Ki Teitzei(Devarim 25: 17-19). Rishonim (including Tosafot, Megillah 17b; Rosh, Berachot 7:20) base themselves on the gemara (Megillah 18a), which derives that Megillat Esther must be read from a proper scroll. It does so by means of a scriptural comparison to the mitzva to remember the actions of Amalek, which Hashem commanded Moshe to write down in a “book.” The gemara continues that although one can fulfill the mitzva not to forget what Amalek did by reading silently, we must read it aloud because the Torah also says to remember, which indicates a further action. The Terumat Hadeshen (I, 108) understands from the Rosh (ibid.) that the Torah requirement includes the need for a minyan. Therefore, the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 685:7) says that because of the mitzva from the Torah, people should go to a place with a minyan for Shabbat Zachor to hear the Torah reading. This seems to be your situation.
 Let us see if there are mitigating circumstances that lessen the obligation or provide alternatives. Not all the Rishonim who mention the Torah-level obligation to read Parashat Zachor indicate that the obligation can only be met at the time and in the manner that we normally do. The Sefer Hachinuch (#603) says that the Torah law can possibly be fulfilled by reading every couple of years, before one comes to forget the story. Others explain that Chazal felt it necessary to institute the reading once a year because one forgets things after twelve months (based on Berachot 58b). (See the Chatam Sofer’s solution for the problem that in a leap year there are thirteen months between readings of Zachor in Maharam Shick, Sefer Hamitzvot 605).
 The Magen Avraham (685:1) notes that, in his times, people were not so careful to hear Parashat Zachor. He justifies that based on the fact that they heard the story of Amalek in the kri’at hatorah on Purim morning (Shemot 16: 8-16). Many take issue on him because that reading does not connect the story to the mitzva to fight Amalek (see Mishna Berurah 685:16). If this is the only issue, one can solve the problem by hearing the p’sukim of Zachorin Parashat Ki Teitzei. However, this solution has complications. Firstly, one probably has to have in mind to fulfill thespecific mitzva to remember Amalek at that time and likely even has to inform the ba’al koreh (see Mikra’ei Kodesh (Frank), Arba Parshiyot 6). (The Taz (685:2) says that the berachot are also an absolute requirement, so, according to him, the oleh might also have to have him in mind.) If you plan to use this method this coming year but did not do so last year, 18 months will go by in between readings, which we saw is problematic.
 The Rama (OC 685:7) says that if one was unable to make it to a public reading of Zachor, he should read it by himself. This should ideally be done from a sefer Torah (Mishna Berura 685:17), which is probably not available to you. However, one should at least accomplish the mitzva not to forget Amalek’s actions by any clear review of the subject matter. Although Chazal established a specific time and manner to fulfill the positive mitzva, it is likely that one can fulfill the Torah obligation by individually reading the p’sukim from a sefer Torah before or after your visit (see Sha’ar Hatziyun ad loc.:5).
Despite the mitigating factors and alternatives, the Shulchan Aruch’s simple ruling still seems to require you to make every reasonable effort to be in a place where you can hear the public reading of Parashat Zachor at its time. There are circumstances where a person cannot arrange to fulfill a mitzva. It is hard to give exact guidelines; we can address your situation if you send us more details.
 
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