“ein mikra yotzei mi’dei peshuto,” that, in essence, people should also
know the plain, non-aggadic biblical intent. Therefore, they advised
some say mandated
—Jews to read Targum Onkelos because Onkelos contains the text’s plain
meaning. Recognizing basic psychology, they knew that if they allowed exceptions,the minor exceptions would soon grow and ultimately the Targum would be ignored.
Once this is understood, one can see the difficulty with Tosaphot’s position. The
purpose of reading the Targum to understand th
e Torah’s plain meaning is defeated
when one reads the midrashic Pseudo-Jonathan. This purpose is also nullified by those who maintain that since they cannot understand the Aramaic of Onkelos they can fulfill the rabbinic requirement to read Onkelos by reading Rashi; unlike Onkelos,Rashi generally contains midrashic material and not just the plain meaning of theTorah.
It would be edifying, once again, to quote the
285:1 and 2, based on Maimonides’
verbatim, so that there will be no question in anyone’s mind concerning the authority of the
Even though a person listens to the entire Torah reading every Shabbat with thecongregation, he is (still) required to read individually every week the Torah portiontwice from the Scriptural text, and once with the Targum (Onkelos), even AtarothveDibon (verse 3).
If one has reviewed the parashah with Rashi’s commentary, it is as though he
reviewed it with the Targum, (however) God fearing persons will read the Targum
and Rashi’s commentary.
Interestingly, it is also permitted to fulfill the mandate of reviewing the Torah portiontwice and once with the
during the congregational reading of the Torah (
Hilkhot Keriat Sefer Torah
Now, admittedly, this law fell into disuse, and as we indicated in our Preface, “the
importance of accurate biblical translation gave way to an overwhelming preoccupationwith interpretation; textual analysis was replaced by contextual exegesis; and lovers of theBible focused almost exclusively on the brilliant commentaries that were composed to
‘flesh out’ biblical narratives and laws.” But it is also interesting to note that “the talmud
icdictum was written when there were many important exegetical collections, like
. Yet, the oft-quoted recommendation urged only thereading of
when reviewing the Torah portion. Furthermore, by the time the
was written, and the law promulgated, most of the classical medieval
biblical commentaries were already in circulation.” Nevertheless,
wasconsidered indispensable in order to understand the biblical text.