There was a problem sending you an sms. Check your phone number or try again later.
We've sent a link to the Scribd app. If you didn't receive it, try again.
One of the many examples of Mitzvot that the Rambam seemingly left out of his 613
count is the Mitzvah of Berchat HaTorah. The Gemara Brachot 21a quotes the Pasuk
\u201cKey Shem Hashem Ekrah HaVo Godel L'Elokaynu\u201d to serve as a source for Berchat
HaTorah being a Mitzvah. The Ramban (Mitzvah 15) based on this Gemara attacks the
Rambam arguing that Berchat HaTorah is indeed a Mitzvah Deorayta and therefore
should be counted as one of the 613 Mitzvot. How did the Rambam understand this
Gemara? Why not count Berchat HaTorah as one of the 613 Mitzvot?
A group of Achronim, headed by the Megilat Ester1 (Mitzvah 15), defend the Rambam
explaining the Gemara to merely be an Asmachta B'Alma. Needless to say the Rambam
was aware of this Gemara. However, he believed it was nothing more than an Asmachta
and therefore can not serve as a source for Berchat HaTorah being Deorayta. The Megilat
Ester2 therefore concludes that according to the Rambam, Berchat HaTorah is merely a
Mitzvah Dirabanan, and doesn't meet the criteria to listed as one of the 613 Mitzvot3.
Before moving on to Nafka Minot and another defense for the Rambam, it is worthwhile
to note a strong proof for the position of the Megilat Ester. The Rambam in Hilchot
Tefilla, (Perek 10) lists Brachot the Rabanan created. On the list (Halacha 7) appear all
three Brachot HaTorah, indicating that the Rambam himself believes Berchat HaTorah is
A clear Nafka Minah to this Machlokis would be what someone would do in a case of
Safek. According to the Ramban, it would be considered a Mitzvah Deorayta and would
trigger the principle Safek Deorayta L'Chumrah. The Rambam would disagree employing
Safek Dirabanan L'Kulah, being that it is only a Mitzvah Dirabanan.
There is, however, a different approach to fending for the Rambam. One may argue that
the Rambam himself agrees to the simple understanding of the Gemara Brachot. Berchat
HaTorah is Deorayta. Just because Berchat HaTorah is a Mitzvah Deorayta, doesn't mean
that it is counted as an independent Mitzvah. Perhaps Berchat HaTorah does not have its
own independence, rather it falls under the rubric of the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah at
large. This approach is suggested by many, including the Aruch HaShulchan5 (47:2)6.
The question now becomes why. Why, according to the Ramban, would Berchat
HaTorah have it's own independence while according to the Rambam it would be
shadowed by Talmud Torah? This issue should seemingly depend on of the nature of
Berchat HaTorah, and how linked it is to the Mitzvah of Talmud Torah.
To better delve into Berchat HaTorah, it pays to look at several Halachot in order to
uncover what it's really about. The Michaber in Shulchan Aruch (47:4) argues that
thinking Torah does not require a Berchat HaTorah. Even though writing, speaking and
listening to Torah do, somehow thinking is different. The Gr\u201da disagrees, arguing that
thinking Torah is no different from any other form of Torah. The Gr\u201da's position, at first
glance, is more easily understood. One fulfills his Mitzvah with thinking Torah, why not
make a Bracha on it? What is the logic for the Shulchan Aruch? Why not mandate a
Bracha on this Mitzvah?
Before explaining the Shulchan Aruch's stance, it would be helpful to diverge for a
moment and analyze another Machlokis between the Michaber in the Beit Yosef and
Gr\u201da. The Shulchan Aruch (47:14) says women make the Bracha of Berchat HaTorah.
The Beit Yosef (47) explains that women say Karbanot and other Pesukim in the context
of Tefila. Additionally, they are Chayuvot to learn Dinim that are applicable to them.
These create a Cheyuv to say a Berchat HaTorah7. The Gr\u201da disagrees with this
reasoning. He states women can make a Berchat HaTorah just like they can make any
other Bracha on a Mitzvot they are Patur on8.
The implication from the Gr\u201da seems to be that women don't really need to make a
Brachat HaTorah. It's a bonus. The Shulchan Aruch posits that women make Berchot
HaTorah because they are Chayuvot. Seemingly this Machloket would depend on what
type of Bracha Berchat HaTorah is. Assuming it is a Berchat HaMitzvah, the Gr\u201da's
reasoning seems sound. Women are Patur from the Mitzvah but can make a Brachat
HaMitzvah like any other Mitzvah they are Patur from9. However if one classifies
Berchat HaTorah as a Shevach V'Hodah, to be Chayuv, one would only require a small
link to the Mitzvah10 which women have because of their requirement to say Karbonot
and learn applicable to them, and therefore make Brachot HaTorah11.
This Chakira can be used to explain the previous Machloket between the Michaber and
Gr\u201da as well. The Gr\u201da, L'Shitato, holds Berchat HaTorah is a Berchat HaMitzvah. One
who performs a Mitzvah is Chayuv to make a Bracha. It follows that as long as one is
performing the Mitzvah, one should make a Bracha. Whether one speak Torah or thinks
it, one is performing Mitzvat Talmud Torah and should have to make a Bracha. The
Shulchan Aruch, L'Shitato as well, believing Berchat HaTorah is a Berchat Shevach
V'Hodah12, may limit the Bracha to certain scenarios. It isn't uncommon to limit a Berchat
Shevach V'Hodah to an extreme articulate form of what the Bracha is being made on13 14.
(For example the Gemara Brachot 11b quotes four opinions regarding what sections of
Torah a Berchat HaTorah is said on: only Mikrah, also Midrash, also Mishneh, or also
Talmud. The first three opinions probably argue that the Berchat HaTorah is a Berchat
Shevach V'Hodah and one only makes a Bracha on a strong articulation of Torah. So too,
thinking Torah might not be strong enough articulation and therefore not require a
There are several more Nafka Minot L'Halacha regarding this issue. The Rosh (Teshuva
4:1 and quoted by the Tur, Siman 47) and Igur (Tur 47) argue as to whether one makes a
Berchat HaTorah after taking a long nap during the day. The Igur says no. Berchat
HaTorah is made only once a day, while the Rosh on the other hand argues a Berchat
HaTorah is made after a daytime nap. Many explain this to be depend on the issue at
hand. Assuming Berchat HaTorah is a Berchat HaMitzvah, a new Bracha would be
needed. There was a Hefsek and that should be M'Chayuv a new Bracha. This is what's
underlying the Rosh's opinion. The Igur, however, argues that Berchat HaTorah is a
Berchat Shevach V'Hodah. It was instituted once a day, in the morning. After a nap there
is no reason to make a new Bracha. It is not surprising that the Shulchan Aruch, L'Shitato
(47:11) accepts the Igur16 L'Halacha while the Gr\u201da, L'Shitato, accepts the Rosh17.
The reverse scenario may be a Nafka Minah as well. When a stays awake all night
without sleep, does that person need to make a new Brachat HaTorah in the morning?
The Mishneh Brura (47:28) quotes a Machloket regarding this issue. The Chayai Adam
and Gr\u201da argue that a new Bracha is not necessary. The Magen Avraham and Eliyahu
Rabah disagree and mandate a new Bracha. This too may depend on our Chakira. The
Gr\u201da, L'Shitato, and Chaya Adam who believe Berchat HaTorah is a Berchat HaMitzvah
require no new Bracha, for there was no Hefsek. The Magen Avraham and Eliyahu
Rabah may disagree because they define Berchat HaTorah as a Berchat Shevach V'Hodah
and think it was instituted to be said once a day in the morning18.
Another possible Nafka Minah may be whether one need to learn immediately after making the Bracha. If Berchat HaTorah is a Berchat HaMitzvah, there is reason to demand immediate learning. If, however, Berchat HaTorah is a Berchat Shevach V'Hodah, there would be no urgency to learn immediately19.
It is very possible that these two approaches reflect two ways of interpreting the Gemara
Brachot 21a which offers \u201cKey Shem Hashem Ekrah\u201d as the source. The Gemara
attempts to deduce the Mitzvah of Berchat HaTorah from Berchat HaMazon. Although it
gets rejected, in order to even attempt such a deduction would assume the two Brachot
are similar in nature. Being that Berchat HaMazon is a Berchat Shevach V'Hodah, it's
stands to reason that the Hava Amina assumes Berchat HaTorah is a Berchat Shevach
V'Hodah as well. The question now becomes, how much of the Hava Amina does the
Maskana reject20? Does the Maskana merely reject the application and conclude that
Berchat HaTorah needs it's own source, or does the Maskana change the classification of
Berchat HaTorah and therefore, Berchat HaTorah not being parallel to Berchat HaMazon
can not be learned from it. The upshot of the second approach would alter the
categorization of Berchat HaTorah from a Berchat Shevach V'Hodah to something new,
probably, a Berchat HaMitzvah.
Having developed two major possibilities as to Berchat HaTorah's classification, the
Aruch HaShulchan (47:2) explains the Rambam and Ramban. The Rambam, he argues
defines Berchat HaTorah as a Berchat HaMitzvah. This in turn, links it the Mitzvah of
Talmud Torah and causes for a loss of independent identity. It can not be listed as an
independent Mitzvah21. The Ramban, on the other hand, thinks Berchat HaTorah is a
Berchat Shevach V'Hodah. Making a Bracha on the beauty of Torah is a value
independent from learning it. It now has it's own independence and can be counted as an
Textually, it seems pretty clear that this interpretation is at least correct for the Ramban.
When describing the Mitzvah he claims \u201cShe-Tze-vanu L'Hodot L'Smo B'chol Eit She-
nik-ra B'Torah Al HaTova HaGedolah She-asa Lanu B'tito Torato A-laynu V'Hodiaynu .
. . V'Kasher Nitz-tavnu B'Bracha acher kal Achia Nitztavnu B'zu.\u201d This seems to indicate
that the Bracha is one of Shevach V'Hodah. He not only uses language of praising and
thanking Hashem, but he compares it to Brachot on food, which are clearly Brachot
Now bringing you back...
Does that email address look wrong? Try again with a different email.