Learning Chumash and Tanach and being an expert in its content

Learning Chumash and Tanach and being an expert in its content:[1]

It is an obligation upon every [male[2]] Jew to study the entirety of scripture, [the 24 books[3] of] Torah Nevi’im and Kesuvim[4], and know its content by heart.[5] This is included in the positive command of Torah learning.[6] This is the first subject that a father is obligated to teach a child, as will be explained.[7] Those who are not accustomed to learning Torah, Nevi’im and Kesuvim, do not have upon whom to rely even if they learn the Talmud daily, as all of Tanach must be studied and reviewed many times until one is an expert in all its content.[8] [In other words, one may not rely on the study of Talmud to gain expertise in Tanach and fulfill the obligation of having knowledge in its content, and rather he must study the entire scripture of Tanach from the original Sefarim in order to fulfill his obligation of Yedias Torah in this subject.]


The custom of Chassidim:

The Rebbe Rashab would recite Tanach daily.[9] The Chassidim, even of mediocre status, were experts in Tanach. They had a set custom to study a session of Tanach upon folding their Tallis, in a way that they would complete it in its entirety every three months.[10]


Coming up in Part 2:

The required daily learning schedule of Tanach:


[1] Admur Hilchos Talmud Torah 1:1, 4, 6; 2:1; O.C. 155:1; Kuntrus Achron 1:1; Michaber Y.D. 245:6; 246:4; Tur 245 and 246; Rambam Talmud Torah 1:7; Kiddushin 30a “Until when must one teach his child…Mikra which is Torah”

[2] See Admur 1:14

[3] Michaber Y.D. 246:4 “24 books”

[4] Admur 1:1, 4 and 6; See Kuntrus Achron 1:1 “Also includes Nevi’im and Kesuvim….According to this there is no merit to the custom to not learn Nevi’im and Kesuvim”; Michaber Y.D. 245:6 “Entire scripture” and 246:4 “24 books”; Shach 245:5 that so is implied from Michaber ibid; Tur 245 and 246 “Torah, Nevi’im and Kesuvim”; Rambam Talmud Torah 1:7 and 12 “The entire scripture…The words of Kabalah are included in scripture”; See Bach 245:5 in length

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is not necessary to teach one’s child Nevi’im and Kesuvim. [Rashi on Kiddushin ibid; See Bach ibid in length] Practically, we do not rule like Rashi, as stated in the above Poskim. [See Bach ibid; Kuntrus Achron ibid]

[5] Admur Hilchos Talmud Torah 2:2

[6] See Admur and all Poskim ibid that it is part of the Mitzvah of Vishinantam Livanecha and Talmud Toprah

[7] Admur 1:1

[8] Admur Hilchos Talmud Torah 2:2-3 “According to all, in the start of one’s learning one must study scripture every day and repeat it not just one or two or three times, but a great abundance of times, each person in accordance to his memorization capabilities, so he memorize it well.”; Admur Kuntrus Achron 1:1 “According to this there is no merit to the custom to not learn Nevi’im and Kesuvim, and what the Shach wrote…is inaccurate”; Bach ibid; Admur in 2:1-3 completely omits the allowance of Rama/Shach/Tosafus [brought in other opinions] to rely on the study of Talmud for one’s knowledge of Tanach and he explicitly negates this opinion in Kuntrus Achron ibid; See in great length glosses of Rav Ashkenazi on Kunrtus Achron 1 in Vol. 2 p. 890- 899

Other opinions and customs: Some Poskim rule it is not necessary to teach one’s child Nevi’im and Kesuvim. [Rashi on Kiddushin ibid; See Bach ibid in length] This is the widespread custom today, to not learn Nevi’im and Kesuvim. [See Bach ibid in length; Shach ibid; Kuntrus Achron ibid] The Bach ibid completely negates this custom. However, some Poskim defend this custom saying that it is a Minhag Yisrael which is Torah and relies on the opinion of the Poskim [Rama 246:4; Tosafus Kiddushin 30a; Hagahos Maimanis; Rabbeinu Peretz on Hagahos Hasemak 105; Rabbeinu Yerucham 2] who rule that the Babylonian Talmud includes all parts of the Torah and Tanach, and hence this obligation of learning Tanach is fulfilled through the study of Talmud. [Shach Y.D. 246:5] Practically, Admur rules as follows: While this custom is correct from the aspect that the father does not need to hire a teacher to teach him all of Tanach when he is a child [Admur 1:6, unlike Bach ibid, See Kuntrus Achron 1:1] it is not correct from the perspective that there is no obligation to learn and be an expert in Tanach, and in truth one does not fulfill this obligation through the study of Talmud, unlike the Shach ibid. Admur novelizes and explains that even according to the above Poskim ibid who rule one fulfills his obligation of 1/3 learning of Tanach through studying Talmud, this only applies once he has studied all of Tanach and become an expert in it, memorizing all its content. However, until one has reached this level of knowledge in Tanach, all the above Poskim agree that one may not fulfill his obligation with simply learning Talmud. [Admur Kuntrus Achron ibid] In other words, everyone agrees that to fulfill the Mitzvah of Yedias Hatorah one must learn and become expert in all of Tanach, and it is only once this is accomplished that the Poskim discuss the Mitzvah of Vihagisa Bo Yomam Valyal, in which one can fulfill his 1/3 of Tanach through studying the Talmud. [See glosses of Rav Ashkenazi ibid] While this is the ruling of Admur, the widespread custom today is like the Shach’s understanding. See Glosses of Rav Ashkeanzi ibid who explains that perhaps according to the Shach ibid there is no obligation of Yedias Hatorah by Tanach and it is rather only an obligation for the sake of understanding Talmud [see also Admur 1:6 for a similar idea], however according to Admur ibid there is a complete obligation of Yedias Hatorah in Tanach in it of itself.

The reason: As the Talmud does not contain all the verses of Tanach and it is not in the correct order. It is hence impossible to fulfill one’s Mitzvah of Yedias Hatorah of Tanach through studying Talmud. [See Glosses of Rav Ashkeanzi ibid] See other opinions!

[9] Hayom Yom 3rd Nissan

[10] Hayom Yom 19th Adar Rishon

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