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It says in the Baal HaTanya's Hilchos Talmud Torah that one fulfills his obligation to learn Torah only if he says the words. Moreover, a Chavrusa fulfills his obligation only because Shomeya Keoneh.

Most Poskim do not consider a person listening to a tape as Shomeya Keoneh. So does one fulfill Mitzvas Talmud Torah by listening to a shiur on a tape?

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This question may also apply to listening to a shiur over the phone, like Dial-a-Daf. –  Shmuel Dec 18 '11 at 6:03
<rant> I'm sorry, but questions like these completely baffle me. It would appear that simple common sense should provide the obvious answer. By listening to this tape, are you engaging in the study of Torah, participating in the our grand and ancient tradition, and gaining Torah knowledge and growing spiritually? If yes, then it's Talmud Torah, because you are being לומד תורה. If not, because, lets say, you're not paying attention, or the tape is actually "Best of Queen," then it's not. Simple. Common. Sense. </rant> –  Shmuel Dec 18 '11 at 6:05
@ShmuelL not sure if you noticed, but he has a stated premise: "only if he says the words". Listen doesn't = says. –  yydl Dec 18 '11 at 6:21
@ShmuelL according to you would be right according to the Gra (unfortunately he doesn't give the source for the Gra). However, (he mentions this also) that other opinions do not hold like that shita (and as an example, I linked to the Hilchos Talmud Torah of the Shulchan Aruch Harav) where he rules explicitly not like that Shitta. –  Shmuel Brin Dec 18 '11 at 6:34
@yydl Ah, true. But that raises the [mind-boggling] question of whether reading the gemara\chumash silently counts as Talmud Torah. (Mind-boggling because - see my rant above.) –  Shmuel Dec 18 '11 at 6:34

5 Answers 5

up vote 9 down vote accepted

I asked this question once when I wanted to learn a Masechta for the purpose of making a Siyum. I learned it on mp3 and made a Siyum with the approval of a prominent Rav who ran a Kiruv program for which I volunteered in DC.

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+1. Do you think you could share his name? –  msh210 Dec 16 '11 at 19:40
I actually need to edit this answer. I'm embarrassed to admit that I was just hit with a flashback of memory that inexplicably eluded me earlier. Sorry for any confusion. –  Seth J Dec 16 '11 at 19:58
It's been edited, in case anyone was wondering. –  Seth J Dec 18 '11 at 17:47
I asked this question to HaRav Shammai Gross Shlit"a (Bal Machaber ShuT Shevat HaKahasi) a very well known posek in Eretz Yisrael. He said that a siyum could be made on a mesecta learned by way of listening to a shiur (even recorded.) He said at the end of the day the person did learn the material required for the the siyum. When I posed the question I noted that the person did in fact "learn" and "understand" the mesecta well by way of the shiur. –  Yehoshua Dec 2 '12 at 21:26
@SethJ was this Rabbi by any chance r Tzvi teitelbaum? –  Mefaresh Jun 24 at 20:29

Based on the Sefer HaBeracha WeHilchoteah (58:15) it counts as Miswat Talmud Torah.

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R Braun (from the Crown Heights Beis Din) says that one does not fulfill the obligation to learn torah by listening to tapes.

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Shulchan Aruch HaRav Hilchos Talmud Torah 3:12 says in part:

וכל אדם צריך ליזהר להוציא בשפתיו ולהשמיע לאזניו כל מה שלומד בין במקרא משנה ותלמוד אלא אם כן בשעת עיון להבין דבר מתוך דבר וכל מה שלומד בהרהור לבד ואפשר לו להוציא בשפתיו ואינו מוציא אינו יוצא בלימוד זה ידי חובת מצות ולמדתם אותם

And every person has to be careful to say the words with his lips and hear them with his ears in all that he learns whether Mikra, Mishna or Talmud, except at a time of thinking to understand the underlying concepts. Everything that he learns with thinking alone and he was able to say them with his lips but fails to doesn't fulfill with this learning the obligation of the Mitzvah of "And you shall learn them ..."

The author of the footnote points to the Tzemach Tzedek in אור התורה why says the distinction is that "it is impossible to talk." In other words, if learning cannot be accomplished through speaking, as opposed to choosing to remain silent, then it is still learning.

That would seem to apply to Torah tapes.

Note that according to the Tafnas Paneiach quoted here there are two distinct parts of the Mitzvah - one is to know Torah, the other is to learn it. It is only the latter that may have the requirement of saying the words, but the former is sufficient to make a Siyum, so that someone can make a siyum on learning from Torah Tapes is not dispositive of the question of if it is Talmud Torah.

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Your last paragraph is very interesting (to me, anyway). –  Seth J Jun 24 at 20:48

I don't know wether or not you fulfill your obligation of Talmud Torah but rest assure that in Shemayim you will get great rewards for doing the 'mitzvah' of learning.

It may not be an actual mitzvah, fulfillment of the commandment, as we know it, but it is a mitzvah in the sense that Hakadosh Baruch Hu is proud of you for doing it and that He rewards you for it. (See link in above answer by Shmuel Brin on the word 'says'. The video in the link says it is still a very special thing meaning not actual commandment, but still get Schar)

In Mishnah Avos it talks about 'Schar Halichah' - 'the reward of going', or more specifically, the reward of trying.

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Source?........ –  Shmuel Brin Jun 4 at 2:42
This doesn't need much of a source- every act we do on this world is rewarded on the next it is all over the place no mitzvah or good act even if it is not the primary obligation is rewarded no mitzvah goes wasted –  JediPythonClone Jun 4 at 2:45
Who said he's doing a mitzva? –  Shmuel Brin Jun 4 at 2:51
How do you know that "every act we do on this world is rewarded on the next it is all over the place no mitzvah or good act even if it is not the primary obligation is rewarded no mitzvah goes wasted"? –  Double AA Jun 4 at 3:43
I'll get back to you I learned it a lot in yeshiva but I have to find the sources –  JediPythonClone Jun 4 at 10:52

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