Which of the Arba Parshiyos are mid’oraisa?

As we have learned, reading Parshas Zachor is a fulfillment of the mitzvah of remembering the story of Amalek. According to some Rishonim, the mitzvah is to read it from a Sefer Torah. Some even argue that reading it together with a minyan of ten people is also min haTorah. According to a minority view, reading Parshas Parah is also min haTorah. Since reading these parshiyos may be a Torah obligation, one should be certain that the Sefer Torah is kosher and free of mistakes. A child should not receive an aliyah on any of the Arba Parshiyos.

[שו"ע תרפה, ז, משנ"ב יד-טז, ושעה"צ ה-ו; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 19 ו־28]

Must women listen to Parshas Zachor?

As a rule, kriyas haTorah is an obligation incumbent on the tzibur. Therefore, a person who lives in a city that does not have a minyan generally does not need to leave his city in search of a minyan to participate in kriyas haTorah. Reading Parshas Zachor (and according to some, Parshas Parah), however, is an obligation on the individual. Therefore, one must try to get to a minyan. If this is not feasible, he must read on his own from a Sefer Torah. According to some Achronim, if a person was unable to hear Parshas Zachor, he can be yotzei his obligation by listening to the kriyas haTorah that is read on Purim day. The kriyah relates the story of Amalek’s attack. Other Achronim say that since these pesukim do not consist of the actual instruction to obliterate Amalek, their recital does not count towards the mitzvah. The poskim disagree about whether women are obligated to listen to Parshas Zachor. The custom for women is to try to listen to the leining.

[שו"ע תרפה, ז, ומשנ"ב יז; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 26]

Can an Ashkenazi listen to a Sephardic rendition of Parshas Zachor?

The ba’al koreh must be careful to read Parshas Zachor with the utmost precision. A person should try to hear the kriyah read with the pronunciation that he is accustomed to. There is a disagreement about whether the word zecher should be pronounced with a tzeirei or segol. To satisfy both opinions, the pesukim are repeated, each time with a different one of the pronunciations. Some say that the recitation with the tzeirei should be done first.

[משנ"ב תרפה, יח; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 31-30]
  • There is a takanas Chazal to read the following four parshios: 1) Parshas Shekalim--the parsha which discusses the yearly collection of the half-shekel coin, 2) Parshas Zachor--the parsha which commands Klal Yisroel not to forget the attack of Amalek, 3) Parshas Parah- the parsha which discusses the mitzvah to purify through the Parah Adumah, and 4) Parshas Hachodesh--the pesukim which discuss the mitzvos of Korbon Pesach and eating matzah.

  • Parshas Shekalim is read the week before Rosh Chodesh Adar. If Rosh Chodesh falls on Shabbos, it is read on Rosh Chodesh itself. In the times of the Beis Hamikdosh, the call for the collection of shekalim began on Rosh Chodesh Adar.

  • Parshas Zachor is read in order to fulfill the mitzvah of remembering the attack of Amalek and the mitzvah to obliterate that nation. It was instituted to be read the week before Purim, a time when the mitzvah to obliterate the people of Amalek and their progeny (Haman) was fulfilled. 

  • How long is Ta’anis Esther?

  • Are pregnant and nursing women exempt from fasting on Ta’anis Esther?

  • Why is Ta’anis Esther different than other fasts?
PLEASE NOTE: The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.
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