Halachos of Parshas Zachor | Rabbi Moshe Rotberg

Halachos of Parshas Zachor

The Halachos of Krias Parshas Zacher is many with a lot of opinions. This article like all of the other in the past is not intended to be a final halachik ruling, rather a compilation of thoughts, ideas and opinions. For any specific question please speak to a Rov.

Parshas Zachor

The Mechaber (685;7) writes that both Parshas Parah and Parshas Zachor are required to be read Min HaTorah and therefore everyone needs to be careful that they go to a minyan to hear the kriah. (See Tosfos B’rachos 13, and the Gemara Meggilah 18) The Rosh (B’rachos 7) states that the reason Rav Eliezer freed his slave for a minyan was in reality because he wanted him to complete a minyan for Parshas Zachor. From this the Trumas Hadeshen derives that it must be that part of the mitzvah is to lain Zachor with a minyan.

Although the Minhag is to lain the Parsha of Amalek prior to Purim it does not mean that the requirement is to only read it prior to Purim. As the L’vush explains the reason we do so is simply so that the Parsha of Amalek is read soon before the Parsha of Haman, who was an offspring of Amalek. (This raises the question as to why then Rav Eliezer freed his slave, when he could have waited until there was a minyan a different week since there is no Biblical requirement to read it any particular Shabbos.)

The Mishnah Berurah adds that the baal koreh needs explicit intent to be motzi the kehilla and that the kehilla has to have in mind to be yotze from the baal koreh. According to many laining is not an individual requirement, rather it is a requirement which comes when there is a quorum of ten people. As a result it is possible that when there is no minyan one would not be required to go find a minyan in order to hear laining. Parshas Zachor is different however; it is a requirement on the individual person to hear this kriah which means that one would have to find a minyan if there is none in his vicinity.  Rav Moshe Shternbuch Shlit”a explains as a result of this distinction that even if the minyan of men consists of people not required to hear laining (they already heard it) one can still lain for the person in the group who didn’t.

If a person for some reason cannot make it to Shul he should make sure to at least read it from a Chumash.

Rav Shlomo Zalman zt”l states (Halichos Shlomo) that even if one missed or two words but heard the general story he was yotze. He brings proof from the fact that one can be yotze the mitzvah from hearing the kriah on Purim as well (see further). From this we see that one does not have to hear the actual words of that parsha so long as he hears about the story of Amelek. This opinion is not agreed upon by all authorities.

Rav Shlomo Miller Shlit”a states (Shoshanas Yisroel page 17) that one should not correct a baal koreh whom made a dikduk mistake, and that one should only correct the Baal Koreh  if one misses a word.

Are the B’rachos Meakev

The Taz (Ibid 2) writes that in order to be yotze the mitzvah of krias parshas zachor someone needs to first make a b’racha on the kriah (a katan who understands to whom he is making a b’racha is suffice and does not need to be a gadol). It does not appear from most Poskim that there is a specific requirement for the oleh l’Torah to have be motzi the kehilla. As a matter of fact even a katan can get that aliya according to many.

Rav Moshe Shternbuch Shlit”a (T’shuvos V’hanhagos Vol. 2; 87) writes based on the hagaos Chassam Sofer that one does have to have in mind to be yotze in the actual b’rachos as well. He explains that by regular krias haTorah the b’racha is on the Torah and there is only a halacha of shmiah (according to most Poskim one does not to have in mind to be yotze). However, by Parshas Zachor there is a chiyuv kriah which we are yotze via shomea k’oneh, therefore having in mind to be yotze the b’rachos is m’akev. As a result, many Shuls will specifically announce that people should have in mind to be yotze with both the krios and the b’rachos of the oleh l’Torah. According to many (or most) though having in mind for the b’rachos may not be meakev.

Reading along with the Baal Koreh

Some state that one should not read together krias zachor with the Baal Koreh since he will then no be Yotze from the kriya and have that in mind while speaking out the words. (See Mishnah Berurah (690; 13) with regard to this issue and Meggilah.


Women with Regards to Zachor; Reading it from a Chumash

The simple understanding would be that Parshas Zachor is a mitzvas aseh that even women are required to fulfill since it is not a z’man grama. However, the Chinuch (603) writes that women are not obligated in this mitzvah since they are not obligated in mitzvas milchama. (See Minchas Chinuch since he asks that women also go to war during a milchemes mitzvah.) The Binyan Tzion (Vol. 2; 8) brings that Rav Nosson Adler was very careful that all women should hear Parshas Zachor. He even insisted that his (Jewish) cleaning help go to Shul to hear Parshas Zachor as well.  It is clear though that there are Achronim whom maintain that there is no requirement for women to hear Parshas Zachor.

Rav Dovid Feinstein shlit”a  (V’dbarta Bom 191) explains that in Lita women didn’t go to shul to hear Parshas Zachor. He says that there is no requirement for a woman to hear Parshas Zachor.

Many Poskim state that even if there is a chiyuv for women to hear parshas zachor that does not mean that they have to go to Shul if it is difficult for them to go. The Kaf Hachaim (Ibid 30) writes that while a woman has a requirement to hear Parshas Zachor they don’t necessarily need to hear it in Shul or from a Torah.

There are many Poskim who state that by their reading it from a Chumash one can be yotze the mitzvah of zachor (preferably with the trup).

Can a Woman Stop going one Year to Hear Zachor

There is a halacha that someone who has done a mitzva or even a good custom 3 times there is a requirement for a person to keep to that “custom” as if he made a neder to do so. The only way one can cease from that activity is if he was matir neder. The question thus is if whether a woman whom has gone to Shul  for 3 years or more to hear Zachor from a Torah with a minyan is required to continue to do so, or she can only stop with hataras nedarim.

The question essentially comes to the following. If there is a dispute amongst the Poskim as how to proceed and one takes the stringent way more than three times does that require him to always be stringent, or is the only time this rule applies is where someone is doing something completely voluntary and only then does it become obligatory. Another example of this question would be someone whom for three years is makpid on Chadash as a stringency, does that mean he’s required to so forever?

From the Shulchan Aruch (Y.D. 214) it would appear that someone who acts in a stringent manner three times does not become obligated to always keep this stringency. (See Chut Hashani Shabbos Vol. 4 page 343; and conversely see Rav Moshe zt”l O.C. 2; 83 with regard to one whom was stringent with regard to eruv like the Rambam’s opinion.)

Rav Dovid Feinstein (Ibid) states that a woman who went to Shul her whole life for Parshas Zachor thinking that she was required to do so does not even need hataros nedarim since it was a practice based in a mistake.


Does there Need to be a Minyan; Making a Minyan Just for Women

The Trumas Hadeshen (108) writes that it is important to hear Parshas Zachar with a minyan then it is to hear krias meggilah with a minyan. This is why Rabban Gamliel violated an issur min haTorah of freeing his slave to partake in a minyan for Parshas Zachor which is a chiyuv asseh.  As such rules the Magen Avrohom  however the Mishnah Berurah (Sharai Tzion 5) disagrees and maintains that it is only a chiyuv medrabonon to have a minyan. He explains that which Raban Gamliel freed his slave to be part of a minyan was only a chiyuv medrabonon in fulfilling a chiyuv De’Oraisa.

 There is a question whether one can make a special kriah for a choleh or women where there will not be a minyan present. Many Poskim write (see Minchas Yitzchok Vol. 9 68;1) that in such a case one should not have a b’racha made on the kriah since it is possible that this is not a kriah which is mandatory. Others add (See Ibid) that where the minhag is not to make a special kriah for women that they should not create a new custom of doing so. Therefore it is always best for women to come to where there will be a minyan of men for Parshas Zachor.

A Choleh and Parshas Zachor– Bringing a Torah to a Home etc.

According to Rav Elyashiv zt”l  one whom is a choleh and is very hard for him to go to Shul does not have to do so and can be yotze from the kriah on Purim, or Ki Saitzai (See Shulcah Aruch 685;7 with regard to the chiyuv to go to a kriah as well as the Magan Avrohom there.)

One can bring a Sefer Torah to the home of the choleh but it is best to have it there prior to Purim by a day or two. Once the Torah is there one can read just Zachor and does not need to read the Parsha Hashavua as well, since it is an independent requirement (See Tzitz Eliezer 16;21). 

Being Yotze by Hearing Other Krios

The Magen Avrohom writes that one can be yotze the mitzvah of zechiras amalek by hearing the Parsha a different week as well. He explains that if one hears the kriah of Voyavo Amalek on Purim he can fulfill the mitzvah that way as well. This is not agreed upon by all Poskim see Mishnah Berurah (Ibid 16) and Aruch Hashulchan who ask how this is possible since the requirement of Parshas Zachor is to hear what Amalek did to us when we went out of mitzrayim and therefore we are required to remember this story for generations. Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Sefer Shmatsa D’Moshe) also rules that one can’t be yotze by the kriah on Purim.

Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky shlit”a writes that in order to be yotze from the kria on Purim he would have to tell the baal koreh to specifically have in mind to be motzi him in the mitzvah of zechiras amelek.

The Chasam Sofer (Even Haezer 119) writes that this requirement is once every 12 months thus on a leap year one can have in mind and be yotze mitzvas zachor by Parshas Ki Savo.

The Minchas Chinuch (603) writes that in essence one can be yotze the mitzvah by hearing the Parsha of Amalek even once in his life.

Zaicher Vs, Zecher

Since there is a question of whether or not the word is zaicher or zecher we say it twice one time saying zaicher and the other times saying zecher. Some have the custom to repeat the whole possuk with the different pronunciation and others simply repeat the same word twice with different pronunciations. Rav Dovid Feinstein shlit”a writes that one should say the whole possuk twice despite the fact that his father Rav Moshe zt”l would not make the baal koreh read the whole possuk twice (See O.C. Vol. 5; 20; 32). He explains that when a baal koreh corrects a mistake he does not need to go back and say over the whole possuk since he now corrected the mistake with the correct version. However, where the correct version is unknown it is not possible to know if the second pronunciation is correct thus we say that the whole possuk should be read twice.

Others state based on Rav Chaim zt”l (with regard to a question of one who has an esrogim to choose from that once the mitzva was done you can’t fulfill it again in a better way) not to do so. They explain that once someone recited the whole Possuk the mitzvah of zechira is done and repeating it is of no value at all. Therefore, one should only correct the few words of Timche es Zecher amalek. (See Shalmei Todah 4 from Rav Aron Leib zt”l and the Moadim Uzmanim Vol. 2 167).

An Ashkenazi Using a S’fardi Sefer Torah or Ha’vaarah and Vice Versa

There are those who are careful to hear Parshas Zachor from a baal koreh who has the same havaarah as them (See Mikroai Kodesh, Tshuvos V’hanhagos Vol. 1; 154) as well as to hear the kriah from a Sefer Torah which conforms to their custom. This especially prevalent amongst Sefardim and Ashkenazim who have different pronunciations for the shem hash-m. Others are not stringent and maintain that this is not a problem.

Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (O.C. Vol. III 5) is of the opinion that any dialect (or havarah) which is accepted by a large portion of klal yisroel constitutes it to be lashon hakodesh and one can be yotzi from that kriah. He explains that if this was an issue then a Sefardi Chalutzah should not be able to marry an Ashkenazi.

Eating Prior to Hearing Zachor

Having a coffee prior to Zachor is not forbidden as it is even allowed before lulav (See Aruch Hashulchan  652; 5). Rav Shmuel Kaminetzky shlit”a explains that one can eat prior to parshas zachor. He explains that parshas zachor is not a requirement to be heard on that specific day so that there is a prohibition to eat prior to the fulfillment of the mitzvah. Those whom need to take medication or are weak- ill, can certainly be lenient in this regard.

Women certainly is not an issue for them to make Kiddush and eat as they don’t have a definite requirement to hear zachor.


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