Halacha for Thursday 7 Adar 5778 February 22 2018

The Laws of Hearing Parashat Zachor

On the Shabbat preceding Purim, which is this coming Shabbat, after the opening of the Ark immediately following Shacharit prayers, two Sifrei Torah are removed; in the first one, we read the weekly Parasha (which is Parashat Tetzaveh this year, 5778) and in the second one we read the portion of “Zachor Et Asher Asa Lecha Amalek” (“Remember what Amalek has done to you”). This Torah portion is referred to as “Parashat Zachor”. (Parashat Zachor can be found at the end of Parashat Ki Tetzeh in the Book of Devarim.)

According to most Poskim, the reading of Parashat Zachor is a Torah obligation. Since the Halacha is well-known that “Mitzvot require intention” (Shulchan Aruch, Chapter 60, Section 4), one must take care while listening to Parashat Zachor to have in mind to fulfill the Torah obligation of remembering the actions of Amalek and obligation to annihilate them. Similarly, the individual reading from the Torah must have in mind that the entire congregation will be fulfilling their obligation by listening to his reading.

One who, due to pressing circumstances, could not hear the reading of Parashat Zachor on this particular Shabbat should have in mind to fulfill his obligation the next time this portion is read, which is on the Shabbat of Parashat Ki Tetzeh. In this situation, one must ask the person reading the Torah to have him in mind while reading so that he may fulfill his obligation. Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes that nevertheless, one should preferably read Parashat Zachor from a Chumash on Shabbat Zachor.

There is a dispute among the Poskim whether or not women are obligated to hear the reading of Parashat Zachor. The Sefer Ha’Chinuch and others maintain that women are exempt from hearing Parashat Zachor since the underlying reason for reading this portion is to remember the actions of Amalek in order to wage war against them and women do not usually take part in active combat nor are they commanded in the Mitzvah of fighting; therefore, they are not obligated to hear the reading of Parashat Zachor. (Clearly, there is no distinction between an average woman and a woman of uplifted spirit who would like to go out to war, for the Torah does not command women to annihilate Amalek since women do not usually take part in conquest.) However, many Poskim are of the opinion that women are obligated to hear Parashat Zachor (which is indeed the prevalent custom). Thus, those women who act stringently and attend synagogue to hear Parashat Zachor are indeed praiseworthy. A woman who has small children and cannot leave them to hear Parashat Zachor may exempt herself from hearing Parashat Zachor.

Nowadays, it is customary in many places to take out a Sefer Torah and read Parashat Zachor especially for women after morning prayers have concluded; in this way, women will indeed be able to hear Parashat Zachor while someone else attends to the children at home. This should preferably be done at a time when there are ten adult men present in the synagogue, such as shortly before Mincha services. This is indeed a fine custom.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

A Prayer in Vain

The Mishnah in Masechet Berachot (54a) states: “If one prays for something that has already passed, this constitutes a prayer in vain.” This is because Hashem will not change something that has already occurred in the past. The Gemara there provides an example: “If one’s ......

Read Halacha

“Barechu Et Hashem Ha’Mevorach”

Question: If one is praying alone and thus cannot answer “Baruch Hashem Ha’Mevorach Le’Olam Va’ed,” may one recite “Barechu Et Hashem Ha’Mevorach” on his own or not? Answer: It is well-known that the recitation of “Barechu Et Hashem Ha’M......

Read Halacha

Praying for a Miracle

Question: May one request that Hashem perform a miracle for him in a supernatural way? Answer: The will of Hashem is that this world run according to the laws of nature, as the great Rishonim (including Rabbeinu Sa’adia Gaon in his book and the Ran in his discourses) write. Similarly, the G......

Read Halacha

“Derech Eretz” Precedes the Torah

The Mishnah in Pirkei Avot (3, 23) states: “Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya says: Without Torah there is not Derech Eretz (we shall define this term below); without Derech Eretz, there is no Torah.” The simple definition of the term “Derech Eretz” is conducting business, hence the te......

Read Halacha


The Laws of Cooking on Yom Tov

In the previous Halachot we have explained that although Shabbat and Yom Tov are equal in their prohibition to perform work on them and it is therefore a Torah prohibition to drive a car on Yom Tov, nevertheless, certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking and frying, are permitt......

Read Halacha

Lighting Candles in Honor of Yom Tov-Seudah Shelishit this Coming Shabbat

Lighting Yom Tov Candles Just as there is a Mitzvah to light candles on Erev Shabbat in honor of Shabbat, there is likewise a Mitzvah to light candles in honor of Yom Tov since the Torah refers to all holidays as “Holy Proclamations.” Indeed, the Rambam writes (Chapter 6 of Hilchot Yom ......

Read Halacha

Grating Vegetables on Yom Tov

Question: I would like to prepare potato patties made from ground potatoes on the Shavuot holiday. Is this permissible? Answer: In the previous Halacha we have explained that all forbidden works that apply on Shabbat apply to Yom Tov as well besides for works pertaining to food preparation in hon......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Food Preparation on Yom Tov

The holiday of Shavuot will be celebrated, G-d willing, at the conclusion of the period of the counting of the Omer a week from today, Sunday (beginning from Motza’ei Shabbat), the 6th of Sivan (and outside of Israel on Monday, the 7th of Sivan as well). Let us, therefore, begin to discuss som......

Read Halacha