The required daily learning of Tanach

The required daily learning of Tanach:[1]

Although children are first taught Tanach and only then proceed to study Mishneh and Talmud[2], an adult who has yet to learn and know the content of Tanach, is not to schedule his learning time to first learn the entire Tanach and only then proceed to Mishneh and Talmud.[3] Rather, an adult’s daily[4] learning schedule is obligated to include three subjects, Mikra [i.e. Tanach[5]], Mishneh [i.e. Halacha[6]] and Talmud [i.e. the reasons behind the Halachos[7]].[8] This is a Biblical obligation, received from Moses on Sinai.[9] Even one who is unable to study and remember a great amount of Torah, and is hence required  to dedicate all his time to the study of practical Halacha, is required to also study Tanach at the set times.[10] [Thus, one’s daily learning schedule must include the study of scripture [i.e. Tanach], in addition to the study of Halacha and Talmud.]

How much time must one dedicate daily for learning Tanach:[11] Some Poskim[12] rule one must divide the amount of time he has available each day for Torah learning by three and dedicate exactly 1/3 of that time to the study of Tanach. [Thus, if for example he has nine hours a day available for Torah learning, he is to study three hours Tanach, three hours Mishneh, and three hours Talmud.[13]] Other Poskim[14], however, rule that one is not meant to divide the learning hours to three and give each subject the same amount of time, as Mishneh is more severe than Tanach and requires more learning time, while Talmud is more severe than Mishneh, and require more learning time than it. Rather, one is to schedule his daily Torah learning in a way that he will complete all three subjects of Tanach, Mishneh, and Talmud at the same time. Thus, each day he studies a little bit of Tanach, even more of Mishneh, and even more of Talmud. Practically, it is good to suspect for this latter opinion.[15] [However, in Likkutei Torah[16] Admur implies that in the beginning of one’s learning he should dedicate literally 1/3 of his time for learning Tanach, until he is well versed in it.]

Until when must one have a daily study session in Tanach?[17] Even if he has already completed the study of the entire scripture [i.e. Tanach] one time he is required to repeat its study from the beginning several times, and learn it every day as stated above, until all its content is well versed and memorized in his mind.[18] [It is, however, not necessary to memorize the context word for word, as it is forbidden to recite the written Torah by heart.[19]] Once he has reviewed the Tanach enough times to memorize its content, he is no longer required to have a daily session of studying Tanach, and rather he is to only read it on occasion in order to prevent him from losing memory of its content.[20] [He may spend the remainder of his day studying Mishneh and Talmud.[21]]

The learning schedule for children:[22] Children, in the beginning of their study, are first taught Chumash. In previous times it was accustomed to teach them the entire Tanach many times until age ten.[23] However, in todays times, the custom is no longer to teach children the entire Tanach, and rather they are only taught Chumash.[24] Nevertheless, they are required to study and repeat the study many times of all the Parshiyos of the Torah which have the Mitzvos written in them that are explained in the Talmud.



It is a Biblical obligation upon every male Jew to have a daily study session in Tanach [i.e. Torah, Nevi’im, and Kesuvim] and review it several times until he becomes an expert in its content. One is to split his time of daily Torah study between the subjects of Tanach, Mishneh [i.e. Halacha], and Talmud, dedicating some time to each subject. One should dedicate more time daily to the study of Mishneh, and certainly to the study of Talmud, than to the study of Tanach. Once one has become an expert in the content of Tanach, he is no longer required to have a daily learning session in Tanach, and is to simply review it on occasion to prevent lapse of memory.


The custom of Chassidim:

The Rebbe Rashab would recite Tanach daily.[25] 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.[26]


[1] Admur Hilchos Talmud Torah 2:1

[2] See next part of this Halacha

[3] Admur 2:1

The reason: As only by children who are not mentally mature or knowledgeable enough to study Mishneh and Talmud do we first teach them the entire scripture for five years. However, an adult who has ability to also study Mishneh and Talmud is not allowed to spend his entire learning schedule first learning all of Tanach, as there is no telling how long he will live [and he has an obligation to study Mikra, Mishneh and Talmud]. [Admur ibid; See Kiddushin ibid]

[4] Admur Hilchos Talmud Torah 2:1 “Each and every day”; Michaber Y.D. 246:4; Tur 246; Tosafus 30a; Rambam 1:12; Kiddushin 30a “For daily”

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule one is to split the week to three subjects. [Rashi Kiddushin ibid] This means that one is to study two days Mikra, two days Mishneh, and two days Talmud. [Tosafus ibid in explanation of Rashi ibid]

[5] Admur Hilchos Talmud Torah 2:1 only mentions Tanach as Mikra; See Kunrtus Achron 1:1 and all that was explained in the previous paragraph that even according to the Rama 246:4 and Rabbeinu Tam in Kiddushin 30a one may not rely on the study of Talmud which includes Mikra for his Tanach studies; Even in Likkutei Torah Vayikra 5c where Admur offers other alternatives for Mikra, he concludes that one is first obligated to learn and review the entire Tanach, and only afterwards move forward to studying the other subjects of Mikra [i.e. Agados, Zohar, Midrash].

Other alternatives of Mikra: 1) Agados [Likkutei Torah Vayikra 5c]; 2) Reading Zohar and other Sifrei Kabalah (without proper understanding) [Likkutei Torah Vayikra 5c; However, see Admur Hilchos Talmud Torah 2:1 who states “The wisdom of Kabalah is included in the 1/3 of Talmud”; See Likkutei Sichos 30:173 who makes the distinction between in depth learning of Kabalah which is like Talmud, and superficial learning which is like Mikra; See also Igros Kodesh 11:277]; 3) possibly also Midrash Raba [Likkutei Torah Vayikra 5c and Shir Hashirim 3c; However, Admur in Hilchos Talmud Torah 2:1 writes “The Pirush Hamikraos and Drashos and Hagados are included in the 1/3 of Mishneh.” Admur in Shir Hashirim ibid differentiates between Midarsh of Halachos which is part of Mishnhe, and Midrash of stories which is part of Mikra.] As stated above, one is first obligated to learn and review the entire Tanach, and only afterwards move forward to studying the other subjects of Mikra. [Likkutei Torah ibid]

[6] Admur ibid

Other alternatives of Mishneh: Midrash [Admur ibid] of Halacha such as Sifra [Likkutei Torah Shir Hashirim 3c]

[7] Admur ibid

Other alternatives of Talmud: Kabbalah study [Admur ibid] that is in depth. [Likkutei Sichos 30:173]

[8] Admur Hilchos Talmud Torah 2:1; O.C. 155:1; Michaber Y.D. 246:4; Tur 246; Rambam Talmud Torah 1:11; Kiddushin 30a

[9] Kuntrus Achron 3:1 “This obligation is from the Sinai Tradition, as all the detailed laws of the oral Torah, which were received from generation to generation” See Kiddushin ibid that it is learned from the verse “Vishinantem Livanecha” that one should read it Veshilashtem. However, Admur ibid learns that this verse is a mere Asmachta.

[10] Admur Hilchos Talmud Torah 2:9; Vetzaruch Iyun as to the intent of Admur’s ruling here regarding if such an individual is required to split his daily learning time to the three subjects of Tanach, Mishneh and Talmud. The following are the possibilities: 1) He is to study every day Tanach, plain Halacha, and the Mefarshim of Halacha until he becomes an expert in Tanach, in which case he spends all day studying practical Halacha and on occasion reviews Tanach. [See Admur 2:2] 2) He is to only study Halacha, and once in a while study Tanach. 3) He is to split his daily learning time to three and study Tanach daily, as stated in option 1, but only study those parts of Tanach that relate to the practical Mitzvos, and on occasion also study the other parts of Tanach. [See Admur 1:6] Vetzaruch Iyun!

[11] Admur Hilchos Talmud Torah 2:1-2

[12] 1st opinion in Admur 2:1; Michaber Y.D. 246:4; Rambam Talmud Torah 1:11

[13] Michaber ibid

[14] 2nd opinion in Admur 2:2; Darkei Moshe 246:2; Ran Avoda Zara 5b; See Kuntrus Achron 1:1 that so is also the opinion of Tosafus Kiddushin 30a

[15] Admur ibid; Vetzaruch Iyun as to why this is considered a Chumra to suspect for the opinion of the Ran. [See Glosses of Rav Ashkeanzi ibid 2:186]

[16] Likkutei Torah Vayikra 5c; See Glosses of Rav Ashkenazi ibid 2:182-186

[17] Admur Hilchos Talmud Torah 2:2-3

[18] Admur Hilchos Talmud Torah 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 memorizes it well.”

[19] See Admur Hilchos Talmud Torah 2:2 “As the written Torah may not be said by heart”; See Admur 49:1 for a dispute in this matter; Likkutei Torah Vayikra 30d that one should memorize the entire five books of Moshe, and the implication there is to memorize the actual words. See Likkutei Sichos 14:237 that this statement of Admur in Likkutrei Torah is referring to memorizing it in one’s mind and not verbalizing with one’s mouth. See Glosses of Rav Ashkenazi ibid 2:203 who explains that perhaps from the aspect of Talmud Torah it is not required to memorize the actual words, but for the sake of having the Shechina dwell within oneself the words must be memorized. However, from Likkutei Sichos ibid it is implied that the memorization of the actual words is part of the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah. See Hayom Yom 2nd of Nissan that the Rebbe Rashab would recite daily Tanach from memory.

[20] Admur 2:2; Michaber Y.D. 246:4; Rambam Talmud Torah 1:11

Other opinions: See Admur in Kuntrus Achron 1:1 that the intent of the ruling of Tosafus Kiddushin ibid [and the Rama 246:4 who rules like him], is that even after one has already finished learning and memorizing all the content of Tanach he is still obligated to learn Mikra daily, as the Talmud Kiddushin ibid states that “Forever one is to learn the three subjects…” However, at this stage they rule that it suffices to learn the Talmud, as the Talmud includes all three parts of the Torah. Admur 2:2 completely omits this opinion, thus ruling like the Rambam, and learning that even according to the Ran ibid there is no longer a requirement to learn Mikra/Tanach once one has completed his studies. However, see Admur in Likkutei Torah Vayikra 5c who implies that according to the Ran ibid one is to learn Mikra every day for his entire life, and so concludes Admur there that after the study of Tanach one is to study the other alternatives of Mikra daily.

[21] See Admur and Michaber ibid who write the above statement regarding one who finished learning and memorizing all the three subjects of Mikra, Mishneh and Talmud, however, in truth the same would apply if he finished Mikra first but did not yet finish Mishneh and Talmud. See Admur 2:3

[22] Admur Hilchos Talmud Torah 1:1

[23] Admur Hilchos Talmud Torah 1:1

[24] Admur Hilchos Talmud Torah 1:6; See Bach 145:5; Shach 246:5; Kuntrus Achron 1:1

The reason: As in previous times the written Tanach was unavailable with vowelization, and hence they had to be taught in school, however today that it is available in print the children are only taught a small amount of Tanach [for about two years-Kuntrus Achron 1:1], as they are expected to learn it on their own when they get older. [Admur ibid]

[25] Hayom Yom 3rd Nissan

[26] Hayom Yom 19th Adar Rishon

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