Birchot HaTorah

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Brachot HaTorah

Obligation

  1. One should be very careful about Birkat HaTorah to say them before learning. [1]The Brachot should be said with great Simcha (happiness) that we’re fortunate to be chosen and be privileged with the Torah. [2]
  2. Before one learns Torah one must make the following Brachot [3]:
    1. Baruch Atta Hashem…Asher Kidishanu BeMitzvotav … Divrei Torah
    2. VeHaRev Nah Hashem Elokenu…Halomed Torah LeAmo Yisrael [4]
    3. Baruch Atta Hashem…Asher Bachar Banu Mekol HaAmim…Baruch Atta Hashem Noten HaTorah [5]

The extent of the obligation

  1. One should be particularly careful about the Brachot of Torah because it shows our appreciation of Hashem’s gift of Torah to the Jewish people. [6]
  2. Some hold Brachot HaTorah are a Biblical Mitzvah and some consider it a Rabbinic institution. [7]
  3. Someone who was in doubt, preferably, one should hear someone else make the Brachot (and both the listening and the speaker should have intent to fulfill the obligation), otherwise one should have intent to fulfill the obligation with the Bracha of Ahavah Rabba and learn right after Davening. If that’s not possible, one may make the Bracha of the Asher Bacher Banu. [8]
  4. One has to make Brachot HaTorah for any learning including Torah, midrash, Mishna, and Gemara. [9]
  5. Women are also obligated in making the Brachot HaTorah. [10]

What type of learning requires Brachot HaTorah?

  1. Writing Torah even without reading, if one understands what he’s reading, it is considered learning for which you have to make Brachot HaTorah. [11]
  2. According to Ashkenazim, because of a dispute one should not think Torah before amking Brachot HaTorah, however it’s permissible to do a Mitzvah even though it’ll cause one to thing about the laws of the Mitzvah. [12] However, according to Sephardim thinking words of Torah don't require Brachot HaTorah and so it's permissible to think Torah before Birchat HaTorah. [13]
  3. Hearing a speech of Divrei Torah from a person or a electronic device requires a Brachot. [14]
  4. Looking into a Sefer Kodesh and only reading with one’s eyes, even without saying the words, requires Brachot. [15]
  5. Telling someone a halacha without giving a reason is a dispute of the posikim and should be strict to say Torah Brachot. [16]

The Text of the Brachot

  1. The first bracha Ashkenzim conclude with the words “LaAsoak BeDivrei Torah” and Sephardim conclude with the words “Al Divrei Torah”. [17]
  2. The second bracha begins with VeHaRev with a Vav. Ashkenazim have what to rely on to say it without a Vav. [18]
  3. When saying Brachot HaTorah especially “VeNehiyeh Anachnu VeTzeTzeynu” on should pray for one’s children to be Talmidei Chachamim, Tzaddikim, and Baalei Middot. [19]
  4. The minhag is to say the Pesukim of Birkat Cohanim and the משניות of Elu Devarim after Brachot HaTorah. If one didn’t learn then, it’s a dispute whether one fulfilled one’s obligation and so one should have intent to fulfill one’s obligation with the Bracha of Ahava Rabba. [20]

Someone who forgot to make the Brachot

  1. The Bracha of Ahavat Olam (the second bracha of Birchot Kriyat Shema) exempts one’s obligation of Brachot HaTorah only if one learns immediately after Tefilah. [21]
  2. If one forgot if he said the Brachot HaTorah (and didn’t yet say Ahavat Olam), Sephardim shouldn’t make a bracha, but Ashkenazim can make the Asher Bachar Banu Bracha. [22]

How they are to be said

  1. The Brachot can be said standing or sitting. [23]
  2. Some say that one can interrupt between the Brachot and the learning, but it’s correct not to, and so the practice is the say the Parshat Birkat Cohanim right after the Brachot. [24]

Interruptions that would require new Brachot

  1. One who stops from his learning with working, bathing, or sleeping, isn’t an interruption for his learning and he doesn’t make new Brachot. [25]

Sleeping during the day

  1. If one slept during the day for a long period of time one does not make Brachot HaTorah again upon waking up. [26]

Waking up in middle of the night

  1. If one woke up before Olot HaShachar (after Chatzot) and wants to learn, one should make Brachot HaTorah even if one will go to sleep afterwards. If one does go back to sleep Shinat Kevah during the night, there’s what to rely on to make Brachot HaTorah a second time. [27]
  2. Someone who wakes up early in the morning before dawn can make all the Brachot (Brachot HaShachar and Birchot HaTorah) except Hanoten LeSachvi Binah and Parshat HaTamid which should wait until Or hayom. The Brachot HaTorah then covers his Brachot all day. [28]

Sleeping at night

  1. Sleeping during the night is an interruption and when wakes up one needs to make new Brachot. [29]
  2. If one slept during the day, it’s a dispute whether one should make a Bracha, and even though the halacha permits one to make the Brachot, the Minhag HaOlam is not to make the Brachot rather one should hear them from someone who is obligated to make them (both must have kavana, and after the Bracha, both learn some pesukim such as Parshat Birkat Cohanim). [30]
  3. If one slept Shinat Kevah the day before staying up all night, one should make the Brachot hatorah in the morning after one didn’t sleep. [31]

Sources

  1. S”A 47:1
  2. Mishna Brurah 47:4
  3. Ramban in Sefer HaMitzvot of the Rambam adds Birkat HaTorah as a Mitzvah Deoritta based on Gemara Brachot which learns these Brachot from the Pasuk “Ki Shem Hashem Ekrah Havu Godel LeElokenu”. See Ramban there and Minchat Chinuch 430:5 who classify these Brachot as Brachot of praise. Because of the dispute in the Rishonim whether these Brachot are Deoritta or Derabanan the rule of Safek Brachot LeHakel still applies.
  4. S"A 47:6 rules that the Bracha of HaRev Nah begins with the letter Vav to connect it to the last Bracha.
  5. S”A 47:5
  6. S”A 47:1. Gemara Nedarim 81a says because the Jews didn’t say Brachot HaTorah the fist bet hamikdash and Israel was destroyed. The Bach 57:1 explains that their intention was to learn Torah just to learn the knowledge and be arrogant in their wisdom. They didn’t internalize the holiness of Torah into their body and soul and this caused Hashem’s Shechina to be removed.
  7. Mishna Brurah 47:1
  8. Mishna Brurah 47:1
  9. Brachot 11b, S”A 47:2, Yalkut Yosef 47:2
  10. S”A 47:14, Magan Avraham 47:17 explains that it’s because women have to learn the Halachot relevant to them. Minchat Chinuch 430:5 says that women can make these Brachot because it’s a praise of Hashem for giving us the Torah. The Gra 47:18 argues that women shouldn’t have to make the Brachot because they’re exempt from Torah learning. However he allows women to make the Brachot like any other mitzvah from which women are exempt, Ashkenazic custom is to allow them to make a bracha.
  11. S”A 47:3 based on Avudraham pg 32. Magan Avraham 47:1 adds that one has to understand what he’s writing to be considered learning, but just copying over text isn’t learning. So rules Buir Heitev 47:2
  12. Mishna Brurah 47:7 because of the Gra who argues on S"A.
  13. S”A 47:4 based on Shabbat 151a, Agur 2, and Tosfot 20b D”H VeRav Chisda. So rules Yalkut Yosef (vol 3 pg 81) that it's permissible to think Torah before Birchat HaTorah.
  14. Yalkut Yosef 47:5
  15. Yalkut Yosef 47:6
  16. Rama on S”A 47:4 based on Ran (Shabbat 4b D”H Makom, Avoda Zara 19b D”H Tana) allows this because it’s just like thoughts of torah. However Yalkut Yosef 47:7 rules that because of a double doubt one should be strict to make Brachot.
  17. S”A 47:5 based on Rif (Brachot 5b), Rambam (Tefilah 7:10), Talmedei Rabbenu Yonah (Brachot 5b D”H Maiy Mevarech) and Arizal (Shaar Kavonot Nusach Hatefilah)have the version of Sephardim- Al Divrei Torah. Rosh(Brachot 1:13, Tur 47 have the version of the Ashkenazim of LaAsoak BeDivrei Torah.
  18. S”A 47:6 based on Tosfot (Brachot 46a D”H Kol, Ketubot 8a D”H Shehakol in name of Rabbenu Tam), Rosh (Brachot 1:13), Rabbenu Yonah 5b D”H Veha, Rashi 11b D”H VeRabbi Yochanan, and Mordechai 31. Rama says that the practice is say it without a Vav but it’s better to say it without a vav to satisfy all opinions. This opinion is sourced in the Rambam (Tefilah 7:10, Rashba 11b D”H VeRabbi Yochanan, Bal HaMor D”H Maiym, and Avudraham pg 44.
  19. Mishna Brurah 47:9, 10
  20. S”A 47:9-10, Mishna Brurah 47:19-20
  21. S”A 47:7 based on Brachot 11b says that one can fulfill the Brachot with the Bracha before Shema. Mishna Berurah 47:15 in name of Levush says that one can finish tefilah and it’s not called an interruption. Biur Halacha D”H Im Lamad implies from the Or Zaruh that finishing tefilah is ok but talking would be an interruption.
  22. Sephardim don’t make a bracha because it’s a safek Brachot lehakel since it’s a dispute in the rishonim if Brachot Hatorah is Deoritta (Ramban) or Derabanan (Rambam). So rules (Yalkut Yosef Hilchot Pesukei Dezimrah 47:2 pg 60). Ashkenazim can make the Asher Bachar Banu bracha as the Mishna Brurah 47:1 says in the name of the Shagat Aryeh.
  23. Yalkut Yosef 47:15 pg 94
  24. S”A 47:9. Tosfot Brachot 11b D”H Shkevar in name of the Ri, Rabbenu Yonah 5b, and Mordechai 31 hold an interruption isn’t a problem. Rambam (as understood by Bet Yosef) holds one can’t make an interruption. Magan Avraham 47:8 says that one can say these pesukim even before daylight unlike the Maharshal who says one doesn’t read pesukim of Birkat Cohanim at night.
  25. S”A 47:10
  26. S”A 47:11 writes that if one slept during the day one doesn't make the Brachot HaTorah upon waking up. However, Mishna Brurah 47:25 writes that there's what to rely on to make Brachot HaTorah for sleep during the day. However, the poskim including Halichos Shlomo Tefilla 6:6, Rivevos Ephraim 8:609:1, Ishei Yisrael 6:25, Karna Deigrata 1:133, and Piskei Teshuvot 47:14 write that the minhag is not to make any Brachot.
  27. Mishna Brurah 47:29,30
  28. S”A 47:13
  29. Implied from S”A 47:11,12
  30. Mishna Brurah 47:28 writes that the one who makes the Brachots have nothing to loss. However, Piskei Teshuvot 47:14 writes that the minhag is not to make the Brachot HaTorah. See also Halichot Shlomo (pg 74) who supports the opinion that no Bracha is made.
  31. Mishna Brurah 47:28 in name of Rabbi Akvia Eiger