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Baal Keri reciting Birchas Hatorah before Mikveh
8. Question: [Sunday, 1st Nissan, 5781]
If one is a Baal Keri, should he delay Birchas Hatorah until after immersing in a mikvah or should he say it before in order not to nullify Torah learning until then?
If the mikvah is very nearby to one’s home, and only takes a few minutes to get to, then I would say that he should certainly first immerse and only then say the blessing, although making sure to recite the blessings immediately after leaving the mikvah. If, however, the mikvah is a distance from one’s home then one should not delay saying the blessing and learning Torah due to this and should first recite it at home and then go to mikvah. In such a case, one can choose to take a shower at home for three minutes as soon as he awakens in order to get rid of his Baal Keri state at least in a Bedieved manner, and then say the blessings and then go to mikvah. Now, while there are opinions who certainly write otherwise and are very stringent that no blessing ever be said prior to immersion, and so is the custom of various other Hasidic groups, this does not seem to be the opinion of Admur nor our Rebbe. This follows the ruling and directive of the Reishis Chochmah in Shaar Ha’ahavah 11 who writes that “One should not nullify due to this Torah or prayer, and at night prior to having immersed, one should not delay studying Torah because he has impure, and a person should not nullify from learning Torah and should consider himself during those hours prior to immersion as if he is sick, and one who is stringent upon himself to not learn Torah without immersion even when he is sick is a very strange opinion which one should not rely on. And as I wrote so was accustomed to be followed by the Arizal.” And so concord other Poskim like the opinion of the Reishis Chochmah.
Explanation: Although we try as much as possible not to say blessings while in a state of Baal Keri, nonetheless, if the blessing must be said then it is to be said, as can be proven from the fact that Admur in his Siddur wrote for the blessing of Hamapil to be said only after intimacy, and as rule the Poskim regarding this blessing and other blessings as well. Furthermore, we have a precedence from Admur regarding the prohibition to delay Torah learning even for the sake of purification from the fact that he rules that one who does not have water to wash with in the morning after awakening to get rid of the impurity, is not to delay his Torah learning due to this and should simply wipe his hands and learn Torah with impurity until he receives water even though according to the Zohar this is forbidden to be done, and the same would apply regarding the blessings over the Torah, especially being that there is no prohibition at all to say it while one is in a state of Keri, and it is simply a stringency not to do so. This is aside for the fact that one may come to forget to say it, being that he is not used to delaying it until after mikvah, as the Chabad custom is to say all the morning blessings at home before leaving to shul. Thus, in conclusion for three reasons a blessing should be said right away: 1) One should not delay Torah learning; 2) one may come to forget and learn Torah before saying it 3) the Chabad custom is to say it at home right away before leaving to shul. One who nonetheless desires to be stringent can follow the advice I gave above to simply take a shower immediately upon awakening and thus cover one’s ground according to all.
Sources: Poskim who rule to say the blessings before Tevila if necessary: Reishis Chochmah Shaar Ha’ahav 11; See also: Sh’lah Hakadosh Sha’ar Ha’osyos Erech Taharah 9 and Kedusha 42; Shulchan Hatahor 88 in name of Arizal; Sefarim mention in footnote of new print of Reishis
Chochmah ibid; Piskeiy Teshuvos 88:2; Chabad custom and ruling: See Admur 1:7; Siddur: “If it occurred that one does not have [enough] water available to wash his hands three times properly, [and he is thus unable to remove the impurity from his hands], nevertheless when he awakens at night Heaven forbid that he delay learning Torah until he is able to wash his hands three times.” Now if this was said regarding one who has impure hands from sleeping, which is a prohibition in the Zohar, certainly it would apply to a Baal Keri which according to all is allowed from the letter of the law to recite blessings. See Sefer Hasichos 1904 p. 20; Igros Kodesh 19:390; 18:277; Shulchan Menachem 1:6 In Sefer Hasichos ibid the Rebbe Rayatz brings from Reb Aba Person that by us [Chabad Chassidim] the custom is to always say the morning blessings at home. However, Poilisher Chassidim are accustomed to say it in Shul. The Rebbe further emphasizes this Chabad custom in his letters printed above. Other opinions: See Chaim Veshalom 9; Mishmeres Shalom 2:1. Maor Vashmesh Emor regarding not even thinking Torah beforehand and that so was received from the Baal Shem Tov and Reb Elimelech of Lizensk; See Shulchan Melachim [Tevilas Ezra] 20; Sefer Sur Meira Viasei Tov