Tag Archives: Torah

The Novelty of Birchas HaTorah

Day 20 – Berachos 21

מִנַּיִן לְבִרְכַּת הַתּוֹרָה לְפָנֶיהָ מִן הַתּוֹרָה — שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״כִּי שֵׁם ה׳ אֶקְרָא הָבוּ גֹדֶל לֵאלֹהֵינוּ״.

And from where is the mitzva by Torah law to recite the blessing over the Torah before it is read, derived? As it is stated: “When I proclaim the Lord’s name, give glory to our God” (Deuteronomy 32:3), meaning that before one proclaims the Lord’s name by reading the Torah, he must give glory to God.

The Shulchan Aruch (OC 47) teaches us that the obligation to recite Birchas HaTorah is incumbent upon women as well as men. The Beis Yosef explains that women need to learn the laws pertinent to them. 

The Gra argues strongly on this and explains that as women do not have a specific commandment to learn Torah, you cannot say the they must recite Birchas Hatorah for the laws they are obligated in.  

Additionally, the Shulchan Aruch earlier (OC 17) taught us that women do not make a bracha on a Mitzvas Aseh SheHazman Grama, a mitzvah bound by time, as women are not obligated in these mitzvos.

Learning Torah is a mitzva that is bound by time, as the Torah tells us you should learn Torah when you wake up and when you go to sleep. Why does the Shulchan Aruch rule that women need to make a Bracha on Torah and not on other time-bound mitzvos?

The Brisker Rav explained  that Torah is different than any other mitzvah. From the fact that we have a seperate pasuk to teach us that one should say Birchas HaTorah, we see that this is not merely a bracha on a mitzvah. Rather, Torah is something that requires a Bracha, part and parcel of learning Torah is making a bracha on it. Therefore a woman needs to make a bracha as well on learning Torah as the bracha is part of the Limud.  

On Sharing an Idea

Day 15 – Berachos 16

רַבִּי אַמֵּי וְרַבִּי אַסִּי הֲווֹ קָא קָטְרִין לֵיהּ גְּנָנָא לְרַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר. אֲמַר לְהוּ: אַדְּהָכִי וְהָכִי אֵיזִיל וְאֶשְׁמַע מִלְּתָא דְבֵי מִדְרְשָׁא, וְאֵיתֵי וְאֵימָא לְכוּ. אֲזַל אַשְׁכְּחֵיהּ לְתַנָּא דְּקָתָנֵי קַמֵּיהּ דְּרַבִּי יוֹחָנָן:

קָרָא וְטָעָה וְאֵינוֹ יוֹדֵעַ לְהֵיכָן טָעָה, בְּאֶמְצַע הַפֶּרֶק — יַחְזוֹר לָרֹאשׁ. בֵּין פֶּרֶק לְפֶרֶק — יַחְזוֹר לְפֶרֶק רִאשׁוֹן. בֵּין כְּתִיבָה לִכְתִיבָה — יַחְזוֹר לִכְתִיבָה רִאשׁוֹנָה.

אֲמַר לֵיהּ רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן: לֹא שָׁנוּ אֶלָּא שֶׁלֹּא פָּתַח בִּ״לְמַעַן יִרְבּוּ יְמֵיכֶם״, אֲבָל פָּתַח בִּ״לְמַעַן יִרְבּוּ יְמֵיכֶם״ — סִרְכֵיהּ נָקֵט וְאָתֵי.

אֲתָא וַאֲמַר לְהוּ. אֲמַרוּ לֵיהּ: אִלּוּ לֹא בָּאנוּ אֶלָּא לִשְׁמוֹעַ דָּבָר זֶה — דַּיֵּינוּ.

Berachos 16

The Gemara relates a story that Rav Ami and Rav Asi went to help Rav Elazar get ready for his wedding. As they were helping, Rav Elazar said that he would like to prepare for his wedding by learning Torah, but he will share with his friends what he learned when he comes back.

Rav Eliezer went to learn, when he came back he shared that which learned, to which his colleagues responded, if we would have traveled here just to hear this that you shared, it would have been enough. 

Rav Johnny Solomon comments that we learn from here that there is something really special and unique about sharing ideas with one another. We see how Rav Ami and Rav Asi were so taken by the idea Rav Elazar shared. We too have the ability to inspire others by the ideas we share. 

The Ingredients of Unity

Day 7 – Berachos 8

The Gemara says that Hashem says that anyone who is involved in Torah, Chesed and Tefilla B’tzibbur, He considers that person as if they freed Him and his son from amongst the nations.

The Tiferes Shlomo explains that the last sentence עם הציבור is referring not just to tefilla, but to Chesed and learning Torah as well. He elaborates, if one has in mind that: the Torah that one learns should be a protection for the Tzibbur, and the reward for his Chesed should go towards the Tzibbur and finally that his tefillos are on behalf of the tzibbur. 

The Maharal takes this a step further and explains that these 3 things are what unites the Jewish people during the times of Galus where everyone is separated from each other and scattered amongst the nations. Therefore anyone who is involved in Torah, Chesed and Tefilla is working to bring the Jewish people back together and Hashem considers it as if you brought the Geula and redeemed Klal Yisrael from amongst the nations.

Based on Tiferes Shlomo Moadim. Maharal Netzach Yisrael 25

The Birthday in Traditional Jewish Thought

ויהי ביום השלישי יום הלדת את פרעה ויעש משתה לכל עבדיו וישא את ראש שר המשקים ואת ראש שר האפים בתוך עבדיו

The sole reference to a celebration of one’s birthday in the Torah is found in Parshas VaYeshev1 . I would like to analyze the tradition of this celebration in Jewish thought and how it applies in both law and custom.

There are many events that we mark with special occasions: The creation of the world on Rosh Hashanah; the judgment of trees and plants on Tu B’Shvat; the dedication of the Beis HaMikdash on Chanukah, the creation of fire on Motzei Shabbos, and the anniversary of one’s birth.

We see many sources for the birthday celebration throughout Chazal.

Rav Chaim Dovid Halevy2 explains that the original Torah source for the celebration of one’s birthday is from Pharaoh, however, it originated as a custom of kings to celebrate their birthdays in public festivities3. and eventually individuals also began to have private birthday festivities in their homes4.

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