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May one learn Torah prior to reciting Birchas Hatorah?
It is forbidden to verbalize any words of Torah with ones mouth prior to reciting the blessing of Birchas Hatorah. This applies individually towards Scripture, Mishna, Talmud, Midrash, as all the above is considered Torah and was given to Moses on Sinai.
May one think Torah thoughts prior to reciting the blessing? It is permitted to think words of Torah prior to reciting the blessing. [However one is not to think words of Torah while still lying in bed after awakening. Some Poskim rule one may not enter into deep thought, contemplation and analyzation of Torah, prior to Birchas Hatorah, even if he does not verbalize the words.]
May one answer a Halachic question prior to reciting Birchas Hatorah? One may give a Halachic ruling, without explanation to its reason, prior to reciting Birchas Hatorah.
May one write words of Torah prior to reciting the blessing? One may not write words of Torah prior to reciting Birchas Hatorah. If however one is not paying attention to the words that he is writing, as is sometimes the case when one is copying something over into writing, then one may write over words of Torah before saying the blessing. Similarly if one is writing a letter to a friend he may write verses for the sake of formality of the letter, before saying the blessing, as he has no intention to do so for the sake of learning Torah.
May one recite verses of Torah that are within a prayer or song prior to reciting the blessings: It is proper to recite Birchas Hatorah prior to reciting any verse of scripture, even if the verse is being recited as part of a prayer, song or supplication. [Practically one may be lenient in a time of need to recite these versus prior to Birchas Hatorah.] It is forbidden to recite the Parshas Hatamid [said within the morning Karbanos] prior to Birchas Hatorah.
May one learn Kabala prior to reciting Birchas Hatorah?
May one read stories of Tzaddikim before Birchas Hatorah?
May a Rebbe teach Alef Beis prior to Birchas Hatorah?
May one read words of the oral Torah prior to Birchas Hatorah if he does not understand what he is reading?
This matter requires further analysis.
May one listen to words of Torah prior to Birchas Hatorah?
- Example: May one listen to a Shiur? May one listen to another person’s Torah explanation?
Some Poskim rule one may not listen to a person saying words of Torah prior to reciting Birchas Hatorah. Others rule that it is permitted. Practically one is to be stringent to recite Birchas Hatorah, and then verbalize some Torah, prior to listening to someone recite words of Torah. This law applies regardless of the source of the Torah words, whether a man, woman, or child. Furthermore some write this law applies even to a Torah lesson playing on a CD, radio or tape machine. Others however question whether it is forbidden to hear words of Torah from a recording. This however only applies if one is trying to listen to the Torah words, as opposed to one who is hearing it but not paying attention.
May a sofer Stam write in the morning prior to saying Birchas Hatorah?
One is to be stringent not to write Stam until he says Birchas Hatorah and says the verse of Yivarechicha.
May one sing songs that contain versus prior to Birchas Hatorah?
One is initially to be stringent to recite Birchas Hatorah beforehand. However if one stayed awake the entire night there is room to be lenient. Thus those that dance the entire night during Simchas Beis Hashoeiva, may continue singing past Alos if they did not sleep that night.
May one say Shema prior to Birchas Hatorah?
What is one to do if he heard the congregation reciting Shema prior to reciting Birchas Hatorah?
One is to say the first verse of Shema together with the congregation even though he has not yet recited the blessing over Torah.
May one recite blessings prior to Birchas Hatorah?
May one answer Kaddish or Kedusha prior to Birchas Hatorah?
May one answer to Kaddish or Kedusha if he is the middle of Birchas Hatorah?
One may stop between the first and second blessing, and second and third blessings in order to answer. One may not stop in middle of the first if he already recited the name of Hashem. One who is in the middle of saying the second blessing of “Viharev Nah” may stop to answer for any Amen, Kaddish or Kedusha [if he has not yet said G-d’s name in the end of the blessing]. If one stopped to answer directly prior to saying the closing statement [starting from Baruch], then one needs to repeat a few words prior to saying it.
May one receive an Aliya to the Torah if he has not yet recited Birchas Hatorah?
Yes. He is to recite the blessing of Asher Bachar Banu and read along inside together with the reader. After the Aliya he is to recite the two blessings of Al Divrei Torah and Viharev Nah [prior to learning Torah]. However the blessing of Asher Bachar Banu is not to be repeated afterwards. Hence as soon as he concludes the second blessing he is to immediately recite the customary Birchas Kohanim. Nevertheless, initially, before the Aliya the person is to quickly recite the first two blessings of Al Divreiy Torah and Viharev Nah, and then continue aloud with the blessing of Asher Bachar Banu said on the Torah. Likewise when reciting the blessing of Asher Bachar Banu he is to have in mind to fulfill his obligation of Birchas Hatorah with this blessing.
May one listen to Kerias Hatorah prior to saying Birchas Hatorah?
Can one be a Baal Korei prior to saying Birchas Hatorah?
May one recite words of Torah if he only recited one of the three blessings of Birchas Hatorah?
In a time of need one may do so. Nevertheless initially one must recite all three blessings prior to learning Torah, as established the Sages.
May one do a Mitzvah prior to Birchas Hatorah?
Yes. However one may not say any verses that are normally recited when doing the Mitzvah.
 Siddur; Ketzos Hashulchan 5/8; and so is explicitly implied from Shulchan Aruch 47/1 [implies one may never learn Torah before the blessing-M”B 47/2] 47/2 [implies that it is forbidden to verbalize the words beforehand, and not just that one may say the blessing if he verbalizes the words], 46/8. This is simply to negate those that understood that the prohibition of learning Torah prior the blessing is a novelty of the Siddur. Upashut! So rules also: Bitzel Hachochma 1/1; Yosef Ometz 66; Chayeh Adam 9/11; Meishiv Davar 47
 Ibid; implied from Siddur; Ketzos Hashulchan 5/8 based on Michaber 47/4; Iggur brought in Beis Yosef
Other Opinions: Some Poskim rule one may not even think words of Torah prior to Birchas Hatorah being that thinking words of Torah is also a Mitzvah. [Gr”a brought in Biur Halacha 47 “Hamiharher”; Yaavetz in Mor Uketzia; Sheilas Yaavetz 2/140; Binyan Olam 6] Alternatively one must say a blessing beforehand because thinking words of Torah is like speaking. [Halachos Ketanos 159] Aruch Hashulchan 47/10 explains that the Sages only instituted the blessing to be said on the main Mitzvah of learning Torah which is to speak the words of Torah, and hence a blessing is not said on mere thought. See Levushei Mordechai 1/7; Mahrsham 8/19;Dvar Avraham 1/16; Divreiy Yatziv 1/50; Yabia Omer 4/8
 The reason: As thinking is not like speech as explained in chapter 62. [ibid] There it is explained that one does not fulfill the Mitzvah of Shema unless he verbalizes the words. In Hilchos Talmud Torah 2/12 Admur applies this ruling likewise to the Mitzvah of Torah learning, that if one does not verbalize the words then he does not fulfill the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah. Nevertheless it is unclear if the allowance is due to that when one thinks Torah he does not fulfill the Mitzvah, or due to that the Sages only instituted the blessing to be said when one does an action. The practical ramification would be in a case that one fulfills the Mitzvah of learning Torah without speaking, such as one who is listening to another person teaching Torah. See Q&A!
 See Chapter 3 Halacha 3D!
 Ben Ish Chaiy Vayeishev 12; Mor Uketzia 47
Opinion of Admur: Admur ibid does not mention any differentiation. However in Hilchos Talmud Torah 2/12 he rules that one is not required to verbalize the words of Torah when he is analyzing the subject in his mind. Hence if one learns that the blessing is required to be said prior to fulfilling the Mitzvah of learning Torah, then according to Admur one would not be allowed to analyze a topic prior to saying the blessing. Perhaps however one can say that the blessing was only instituted when one verbalizes the words, as explains Aruch Hashulchan ibid. Practically the simple implication from Admur here [47/2-3] is that the matter is not dependent on whether one is fulfilling the Mitzvah of Torah but rather if he is expressing it in an action, such as speech. Thus seemingly according to Admur one may even think words of Torah in depth prior to Birchas Hatorah. Vetzaruch Iyun.
 As this is considered just like thought. [47/2]
Other Opinions: The Gr”a rules one is not allowed to give a Halachic ruling prior to Birchas Hatorah. [brought in M”B 47/7] and so rules Meishiv Davar 47; Afikei Maginim 47/6
 47/3; Michaber 47/3; Aruch Hashulchan 47/10
In 47/3 Admur writes that there is an opinion [Tashbatz; Rav David Abudarham] which says that one must say a blessing prior to writing words of Torah even if he does not verbalize that which he is writing. Nevertheless this only applies if one understands and is paying attention to the words that he is writing. [It is implied from Admur ibid that one is to suspect for this opinion with regards to avoiding writing prior to Birchas Hatorah.]
 46/8; Michaber and Rama 46/9
The Michaber ibid records a dispute in this matter. The Rama rules leniently. Admur rules as follows: There are communities which recite verses in prayer prior to Birchas Hatorah as these verses are being said in a form of supplication and not in a way of learning or reading of the Torah. Nevertheless it is a more proper custom to recite Birchas Hatorah prior to reading any verse from scripture. [ibid]
 Rama 46/9; Piskeiy Teshuvos 47/3 based on 46/8; Aruch Hashulchan 46/14
Other Opinions: According to the Michaber it is forbidden [even in a time of need]. [Birkeiy Yosef 46/14; Kesher Gudal 5/29; Shalmei Tzibur; Beis Oveid 46/14; Chesed Lealafim 47/1; Kaf Hachaim 47/55] However see Aruch Hashulchan ibid; Yabia Omer 4/7; Oar Letziyon 2/4
 47/10; 46/8
The reason: The reason for this is because the verses of the Tamid are read for the sake of fulfilling the requirement of learning Torah [50/1] and for the sake of fulfilling the saying of the Sages “whoever learns the portion of the Olah is considered to have brought the Olah”. [Kama 1/11; Basra 1/9]
 Aruch Hashulchan 47/8 based on Admur 47/2 which rules one must recite a blessing prior to all topics of Torah being they were all given to Moshe at Sinai; Kaf Hachaim 47/3
 Aruch Hashulchan 47/8 being that perhaps the Sages only instituted Birchas Hatorah to be said over the legal laws which explain the Mitzvos.
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 47/3
 Teshuvos Vehnahagos 4/17; See Shulchan Menachem 5/92
 As one who does not understand the oral Torah does not fulfill his obligation of learning Torah [Hilchos Talmud Torah 2/13] and hence there should be no prohibition in reading it prior to Birchas Hatorah. However see Sdei Chemed Klalim Mareches Beis 37; Piskeiy Teshuvos 47/3 that one may not learn it prior to Birchas Hatorah.
 Halachos Ketanos 2/159; Tehila Ledavid 47/2; Ben Ish Chaiy Vayeishev 12; Keren Ledavid 11; Erech Hashulchan 47/2
 Machazik Bracha 47/4; Zekan Ahron 60; Halef Lecha Shlomo 35; See Sdei Chemed Asifas Dinim Mareches Rosh Hashanah 2/19
 They prove this from the fact that one who receives an Aliya must read along with the Chazan in order so his blessing is not in vain. This proves that we do not say hearing is like speech regarding Birchas Hatorah. [Machazik Bracha ibid] Alternatively it is because one can never recite a blessing over a Mitzvah that is being done by another person [for his own sake]. [Zekan Ahron ibid; Sdei Chemed ibid]
 This is necessary in order to suspect for the opinions that one does not fulfill his obligation with listening to Torah. It suffices if one simply reads the verses of Birchas Kohanim after Birchas Hatorah. [Kaf Hachaim ibid]
 Shaareiy Teshuvah 47/3; Kaf Hachaim 47/5
Opinion of Admur: Admur states that one does not say a blessing when thinking Torah or even saying a Halachic ruling, being that it is like a mere thought. The reason that thought does not require a blessing is because it is not like speech. [47/2] In Hilchos Talmud Torah 2/12 Admur states that one who hears words of Torah from another fulfills the Mitzvah of learning Torah as hearing from another is like speech. This would hence imply that a blessing is recited. Nevertheless perhaps Admur requires actual speech, just like he writes in 104/5 that one may listen to Kedusha during Shemoneh Esrei, as although listening is like speech, since it is not verbalized it is not an interval. Hence we see that it is not like speech for all matters. Practically from the simple understanding of 47/2 it would appear that according to Admur one must say a blessing. Vetzaruch Iyun.
 Halichos Shlomo 6/5; Hearos and Tziyunim of Hilchos Talmud Torah ibid footnote 16; Piskeiy Teshuvos 47/5 footnote 59
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 47/5 footnote 59 based on the fact that the main point is that one is using his sense of hearing and not just his mind, and it is due to this that he is obligated to recite Birchas Hatorah.
 Halichos Shlomo ibid
 Shulchan Hatahor 47/4; Birchas Habayis 34/6
 Biur Halacha 47 “Af Al Pi”
 It is questionable whether one who recites the words that he is writing for the sake of payment is considered to be learning Torah, and hence one is to say a blessing beforehand due to doubt. [ibid based on Taz 47/2]
 See Ashel Avraham Butchach 46 which states that if one did not sleep at night it is more lenient.
 Based on 46/8
 Yosef Ometz 66; Eretz Tzevi 1/19; Bitzel Hachachma 1/1; Shraga Hameir 2/60; Even Yisrael 9/63; Mishnes Yosef 5/16; Peri Megadim 52; Az Nidbaru 9/54
The reason: As one does not fulfill the Mitzvah of learning Torah with the recital of Shema unless he has intent to do so. [ibid] This is not similar to the reading of the P arshas Hatamid, of which Admur rules that one may not recite it prior to Birchas Hatamid, being that the verses of the Tamid are read for the sake of fulfilling the requirement of learning Torah [50/1] and for the sake of fulfilling the saying of the Sages “whoever learns the portion of the Olah is considered to have brought the Olah”. [Kama 1/11; Basra 1/9]
Other Opinions: See Ashel Avraham Butchach 46 which is stringent in this matter, as one always fulfills the Mitzvah of learning Torah when reading the Shema.
 Mishneh Berurah 65/8; Ketzos Hashulchan 5 footnote 21
 Shaar Hakolel 1/16 based on Admur 46/8
 There is no prohibition in praying to G-d and saying blessings prior to reciting the blessing over Torah study. Thus there is no need to precede the Torah study blessing to the other morning blessings.
 Ketzos Hashulchan 5/8 footnote 21
 One may answer Kaddish or Kedusha prior to saying the blessing over Torah study, as there are opinions which hold that words of supplication are not required to have the Torah blessing said prior to reciting them, thus it is better to rely on this opinion then to not answer for Kaddish or Kedusha. [ibid]
 Ketzos Hashulchan 5/8 and 5/11
 Regarding if one may stop to answer in middle of the blessing of Asher Bachar Banu: Perhaps this is not considered a long blessing as is Asher Yatzar and Viharev Nah being that it only contains two sentences, each one being a blessing of its own. Nevertheless perhaps it is permitted to stop between the two blessings. Vetzaruch Iyun.
 Michaber 139/9; Ketzos Hashulchan 5/9
 This is understood from the fact the Michaber did not rule that he is not to read, and so is understood from all the Poskim, and so writes Piskeiy Teshuvos 139/14.
 So is implied from M”A 139/12
 M”A 139/12, brought in Ketzos Hashulchan 5/9
Other Opinions: The Levush [brought in Peri Megadim 139 A”A 12] rules he is exempt from all the blessings.
 Michaber 139/9; as its considered that he already fulfilled his obligation of this blessing with reciting it over the Torah Scroll.
 Ketzos Hashulchan ibid
 Peri Megadim 47 M”Z 10; 135 A”A Pesicha
 Kaf Hachaim 139/47
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 47/7
 Piskeiy Teshuvos 47/7
 Based on Michaber 139/9 that allows him to receive an Aliya, [and read along with the Ball Korei] even after saying only the blessing of Asher Bachar Banu. This is because once one has said one of the three blessings over Torah he has fulfilled his Biblical obligation. [Peri Chadash 47/1; Shaagas Aryeh 25]
 M”B 47/7 in name of Gr”a
 Kesher Gudal 5/30; Thus one may not say the verses that are commonly said upon putting on a Tallis Gadol.