Today, many baalei batim center their learning around gemara bavli, for example through programs like daf yomi. But the Drisha and Shach write that for those who aren't learning all day it's more important to learn halachah l'maasei and not learn gemara. How we we explain the fact that general practice seems to be at odds with this halachah?


Tosfos (Kiddushin 30a, DH. Tzricha Lyomi) explains the Gemara which states that one must divide ones learning into thirds for Mikra, Mishnah and Talmud that we do this by dividing each and every day into threes. Rabbeinu Tam is then quoted as saying that we rely on what is said in Sanhedrin 24a, which says that "Babylonia means mixed with Bible, mixed with Mishna, and mixed with Talmud, since the Talmud Bavli is a mix of them. So learning just Talmud Bavli fulfills the command to learn Mikra, Mishnah and Talmud because the Bavli is structured around the Mishnah and quotes pesukim from Tanach. This is clearer in what the Gra (YD 246:4 sk.16) notes that Rabbeinu Tam says in Tosfos in Sanhedrin 24a (DH. Belulah):

דבתלמוד שלנו אנו פוטרין עצמנו ממה שאמרו חכמים 'לעולם ישלש אדם שנותיו - שליש במקרא, שליש במשנה, שליש בש"ס

By studying our Talmud [Bavli], we are exempt from what the sages said [then quotes the Baraita from before]

Or as it is put in Tosfos Avodah Zarah 19b DH. Yeshalesh:

דאנו שעוסקין בתלמוד בבלי דיינו

[As a result], we are mainly engaged in Talmud Bavli and this is sufficient

This is brought down as an opinion by the Tur YD 246, who says "ובו אנו יוצאין ידי חובותינו", "by it [Bavli] we fulfill our duties [of Torah study]" and the Rema in YD 246:4, who says the same "אדם יוצא ידי חובתו בשביל הכל". It is also confirmed by Piskei Tosafot (Kiddushin 58) and Ritva Kiddushin 30a, DH. Lo Tzricha Lyomi

The Halachic Problem

However, the Drisha (sk.2), complains that, to paraphrase, There are baalei batim who study the Gemara everyday but not poskim who bring rulings down. It seems to him that this is not a fulfillment of Talmud Torah nor will the man who learns like this be rewarded. We should instead learn seforim of poskim such as the Rif, Mordechai and Rosh etc. because they are the core part of the Torah and their rulings cannot be immediately found in the Talmud with Rashi and Tosfos. A rabbi such as Rabbeinu Tam who studies for nine hours a day with great leisure should study the Talmud Bavli. Someone with less than four hours should not study the Talmud separately. This is same system of division is brought down by the Shach (sk.5) and Baer Hetev (sk.2) as halacha.

It seems like this limits Rabbeinu Tam's heter just to those with very long periods to study, while it does not apply to the majority of us. The "we" in the text of Tosfos and the Tur refers just to Rabbis.

Outside of the yeshiva, very few people study for nine hours a day, every day; many of us do not even manage the three or four hours as baalei batim. However, Rambam Hil. Talmud Torah 1:12 seems to consider this normal. How can Daf Yomi be advisable for most people if they are not meant to be learning Talmud directly; shouldn't shiurim be about halacha instead? I wonder how Bavli has come to this position of being the center of many peoples' limud.

Some Initial Ideas

Two to three hours seems very long for what we would call a review of halachot, so maybe this Drisha refers to in-depth learning of halacha with reference to different Rishonim and Gemaras. Could we just reject the Drisha in favour of Rabbeinu Tam, and argue that the Drisha has a weak interpretation of Rabbeinu Tam? L'maaseh, Aruch HaShulchan 246:14 says that we practice and teach like Rabbeinu Tam and the Rema, but those who want to learn Gemara still need knowledge of Tanach and Mishnah.

Maybe it comes down to two definitions who is not a talmid chacham (and instead referred to as baalei batim): someone who does not have much time (for the Drisha) or someone who does not have much knowledge of Tanach and Mishnayos (for the Rambam, who says to focus on Mishnayos and Tanach until one has mastered them and then focus mostly on Talmud). It might also depend on whether Rabbeinu Tam's statement is a heter (that makes us patur from 'normal' talmud torah) or a minhag that makes us completely yotzei talmud torah.

Please don't take this post as a criticism of Daf Yomi. I love the practice and keep to it myself.

  • 1
    Welcome to Mi Yodeya! Could you please edit this down to just the one question and whatever preamble is needed to understand the question?
    – Isaac Moses
    Apr 25, 2023 at 18:16
  • I've removed the extra questions and now just have two sections of intro, the question and some suggestions about what the answer could be. Thanks!
    – Meir Luria
    Apr 25, 2023 at 18:43
  • 1
    Welcome, Yochanan. I like this question but I also think it's too long. I proposed some edits but I didn't want to take an axe to your writing. It seems to me that your main question is about daf yomi versus learning poskim. If so, I think you can cut most of the background about learning mishnah and mikra. A lot of your last 3 paragraphs also don't seem to clearly focus on the issue of not learning halachah. Or maybe I am misunderstanding your main question.
    – Avraham
    Apr 25, 2023 at 22:46
  • 1
    I think Daf Yomi is meant to be in addition to learning halacha, not instead of it. Nowadays, halacha would be Kitzur Shulchan Aruch, Mishnah Berurah, Chayei Adam, or other more recent sefarim.
    – N.T.
    Apr 26, 2023 at 2:32
  • 1
    You can remove the initial ideas from your question and answer it yourself with the same content, see for instance meta.stackexchange.com/questions/17463/…
    – mbloch
    Apr 26, 2023 at 3:33


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