There is a Tosafot in Sanhedrin 24a that says that by learning Gemara one does not fulfill what the Gemara (Kidushin 30a, Avoda Zara 19a) says: one should split his learning into three --- Mikra, Mishna, and Gemara. I know he answers this question saying that we fulfill this obligation by reading the Korbanot and prayers before Hodu. However, I have two questions for nowadays:

1) HaRav Chaim Kanievsky Shelit"a says that there is no Hiyuv to read the Korbanot except for the Parashat HaTamid (which one doesn't fulfill Mikra with). According to him, how are people that omit Akeda and other sections of Mikra Yotze for the third?

2) Even though people fulfill their obligation with the prayers before Hodu, why isn't Tanach so regularly studied at Yeshivot? I'm not asking your personal opinion, I want to know if any Roshei Yeshivot or Posekim discuss this.

Thank you and always, source responsibly

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    I'm pretty sure it's mikra, mishna, & gemara.
    – jake
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 2:43
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    I'm not sure what you're asking. IIRC, "mikra" is Tanach, "mishna" is mishanyos [and/or dry gemara ("bekius style")], and "gemara" is halachic analysis (b'iyun).
    – jake
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 3:14
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    Because Yeshivas are non-prophet organizations.
    – Leitz
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 4:14
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    @HachamGabriel, I'm not sure you understood my original comment. I just meant that you should edit from "tanach, mikra, gemara" to "mikra, mishna, gemara". With regard to one pasuk sufficing, I'm not sure I know enough to say for sure, but IMHO the gemara sounds like the learning time one has should be broken into equal thirds. So one hour a day of learning becomes 20 min. mikra, 20 min. mishna and 20 min. gemara.
    – jake
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 4:55
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    – wfb
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 16:38

5 Answers 5


Rav Moshe Shternbuch writes in Teshuvot VeHanhagot 2:457 that even though the gemara implies one should learn tanach first, this is no longer true as learning tanach can be dangerous for learning it simply (without appropriate commentaries and guidance) can lead one to heresy. As such, one should first learn lots of gemara and only then dabble in tanach with appropriate commentaries.

Rav Shmuel HaLevi Wosner writes in Shevet HaLevi 8:207 that indeed one should master the basics of Tanach and Hebrew grammar, but one should not spend too much time that it takes away from learning gemara and rishonim which is the most important form of talmud torah. He claims all great rabbis knew tanach well even if they hid their knowledge. He notes finally that the study of such a central corpus as tanach does not need his endorsement.

The question asked about Yeshivot who do not regularly study Tanach. I conclude by noting that some Yeshivot do in fact actively advocate studying Tanach. For more about that perspective see the article "Nach: The Neglected Nineteen" by R' Gilad Barach and particularly his quotes from Rabbis Aharon Lichtenstein and Michael Rosensweig.


In the Hilchos Talmud Torah of R' Shneiur Zalman of Liadi is written that the custom is not to teach children Tanach since they can learn it on their own (in the time of the Mishna, one would not be able to do that as the Nekudos and Trop are a Halacha Lemoshe MiSinai which was not written down).

However, he says that one must learn Chumash, as it's the source of most Drashos which are mentioned in the Gemara.

It appears from there that the purpose of a Yeshiva is as an extension of Cheder (which he writes explicitly that it's purpose is to prepare one to learn).

  • 1
    I think most people are Yose that with the daily Aliya in Shenayim Mikra. Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 4:22
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    By this reasoning, bekiut should also not be taught after the advent of Artscroll.
    – Double AA
    Commented Mar 12, 2012 at 4:26
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    "it's [sic] purpose is to prepare one to learn...[gemara?]"
    – Seth J
    Commented Mar 13, 2012 at 19:29

With regard to your first question, tosfos (Kidushin 30a ד"ה לא) quote the shita of Rabeinu Tam who explains that the Talmud Bavli is a mixture of mikra, mishnah, and gemara. Therefore, the requirement to learn all 3 every day is fulfilled by learning Talmud Bavli (he bases this on the gemara which says that the bavli is a mixture playing on the word bavli). It is clear from his view that the chiyuv is not to split up learning into equal 3rds. (See the Rambam Talmud Torah 1:11 who disagrees, and the Ron for a bigger discussion.) So long as one learns all 3 one fulfilles the chiyuv. The Rama (Yoreh De'ah 246:4) paskons like Rabeinu Tam and hence by learning Talmud Bavli one fulfills this chiyuv.

Either way, I do think that the halacha represents a broader educational point, which is reflected by many other maamarei chazal as well, that one should have a well rounded Torah education. It is critical to know all the basic areas of Torah. If I may venture to guess as to why that is, it seems at first glance to be for two reasons:

  1. Each area of Torah has critical elements which the other areas don't have, both in the realm of developing into a yerei hashem and in the realm of achieving yediyas hakadosh baruch hu.
  2. All of Torah is one. Therefore, if one has an incomplete understanding of tanach, they will not understand gemara properly and vice versa. In light of what was quoted before in the name of Rav Shternbach, I guess I am arguing that not only is it dangerous to learn tanach without knowing gemara. It is dangerous to learn gemara without learning tanach and mishnah.

Your second question has bothered me for quite some time. No one would disagree that is immensely important to master tanach b'iyun. Certainly knowing tanach is part of the chiyuv to know kol hatorah kulah (see the shulchan aruch harav, Hilchos Talmud Torah chapter 1, kuntres acharon note 1) and hence learning all of tanach is an absolute chiyuv. It is also self evident that the words which Hashem found necessary to communicate to mankind for all eternity is of utmost importance and to neglect learning tanach would be a massive chilul hashem. So I repeat, everyone agrees that tanach must be learned, all of it, well. What gadol doesn't know tanach cold? Certainly for chumash, the chiyuv shnayim mikra indicates the absolute necessity to learn chumash weekly and know it well. The question is really - why don't yeshivos incorporate that into their curriculum? Even the ones that do, the time dedicated to tanach is a tiny fraction. I know one common response is that tanach is generally easier to master and therefore doesn't require as much time and would be a waste of the resources available in a yeshiva. In other words, to learn a proper derech halimud in gemara and to develop the skills necessary to master gemara takes a lot more time, study, and direction from talmidei chachamim. Therefore, the yeshiva dedicates nearly all of its time to the study of gemara for this reason. However, the expectation is still that at some point in one's life they master tanach on their own. It is really a matter of different curricula for different stages of life and different periods of opportunity. Certainly in the times of Chazal children mastered tanach before they learned gemara (see pirkei avos 5:21).

I would just mention two concerns with this approach:

  1. It isn't only important to have a well rounded torah education in the long run, but also as one develops their knowledge of Torah it is important to have a balance. The balance is essential for growing properly as an oveid hashem (there are many broad lessons and perspectives which one only learns from tanach, which are essentiall to learn as one grows from learning gemara as well).

  2. Since tanach has been so neglected by yeshivos, there are very few writings of later achronim on tanach which are written as a rigorous approach to learning pshat in tanach (maybe the one exception amongst the right wing yeshivos is the Emes Lyaakov). Therefore, even the simpler skill set for learning tanach isn't being effectively developed by people who attempt to learn tanach on their own. Meaning, since tanach isn't being taught in yeshivas, the guidance of talmidei chachamim which is necessary for any area of talmud torah has been neglected. Maybe if tanach were learned in yeshivos, HaRav Shternbach's concerns about being corrupted by tanach chalila vchas (it hurts me to even say that one could be corrupted by the wellspring of yiras shamayim) wouldn't be such a concern since talmidei chachamim would be giving their talmidim hadracha in how to learn an approach tanach in a frum way, to understand it properly and for what it is.

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    Yonason M, welcome to Mi Yodeya and thank you for bringing your perspective here. Editing in precise source references for some of the opinions you quote would increase the value of this answer. That said, I encourage you to registere your account and I look forward to seeing you around!
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 25, 2012 at 18:02
  • I tried to edit your answer to make it more clear, but two main things were beyond me: You asked to see the Ran for further discussion about splitting Torah into thirds, but I couldn't find a discussion in that in his commentary to the Rif in Kidushin pp. 12a-12b. Also, you wrote in the second paragraph "either way..." but I don't know what two ways you have been discussing; maybe you mean "anyway"?
    – b a
    Commented Nov 25, 2012 at 19:11
  • Also see Rashi berachos 28b about not reading too much.
    – sam
    Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 2:40
  • "I know one common response is that tanach is generally easier to master" R' Yonason, I think you are saying it exactly backwards. A main reason that people don't study Tanach is that they can't understand it at all. Perhaps this is what R' Moshe Sternbuch was saying as well. There was a time when people drew great inspiration from the holy words of the neviim; for most people, now is not that time. We can read it but not understand it, and have lots of difficult questions with no way to answer them.
    – MichoelR
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 21:03

Gemara Berachos 28b: Rabbi Eliezer said how to merit Olam Habah, ומנעו בניכם מן ההגיון והושיבום בין ברכי תלמידי חכמים וכשאתם מתפללים דעו לפני מי אתם עומדים ובשביל כך תזכו לחיי העולם הבא :

Rashi:מההגיון. לא תרגילום במקרא יותר מדאי משום דמשכא. לשון אחר משיחת ילדים

Basically,do not learn(or teach your children) Tanach too much either because it will take you away from other study ,or because of child talk .

If one has pshat to understand this better please explain accordingly.

  • 1
    To clarify: are you looking for other pshatim in reading rashi, or other pshatim in the gemara either in other rishonim or otherwise? (Also, there's a difference between too much and not at all.)
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 4:22
  • both ,Gemarah,and Rashi. Just trying to understand the meaning of the words .What does child talk mean? Regarding your last point I agree.
    – sam
    Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 4:26
  • btw this rashi is quoted in both the teshuvos i cite in my answer. IMO though I would have thought pshat of the gemara is that it refers to philosophy and the like; הגיון most literally means logic (I think).
    – Double AA
    Commented Nov 26, 2012 at 6:08
  • לשון אחר משיחת ילדים is a variant explanation of הגיון and is not related to the explanation that it relates to מקרא.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Jul 27, 2016 at 6:22

Your premise is stated as follows:

There is a Tosafot in Sanhedrin 24a that says that by learning Gemara one does not fulfill what the Gemara (Kidushin 30a, Avoda Zara 19a) says: one should split his learning into three --- Tanach, Mikra, and Gemara. I know he answers this question saying that we fulfill this obligation by reading the Korbanot and prayers before Hodu.

However, this premise appears to be flawed, in that that Tosafot says that one does fulfill. And despite this, we also fulfill this obligation in another way. Did you, perhaps, read the word אנו ("we do") as אינו ("he does not")?

snip of Tosafot on Sanhedrin 24a

  • I think that tosfot means that after you already learn it one time, you don't need to continue to learn it again because of בבלי בלולה במקרא בלולה במשנה בלולה בתלמוד and it is enough to learn talmud bavli. But if you never learned Tanach, I am pretty sure that tosfot doesn't say that to learn talmud is enough
    – kouty
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 19:28
  • But there is nothing in Tosafot's words that says that. In order to ask a question from Tosafot's statement, we have to first establish that they actually say that. Commented May 27, 2020 at 19:34
  • It is perhaps about לעולם that maybe address the chazarot
    – kouty
    Commented May 27, 2020 at 19:44
  • but the לעולם is a quote from the gemara. Tosafot didn't innovate that word, so how can we use it to attribute a specific interpretation to them? Commented May 27, 2020 at 21:59
  • I am sorry. I see that I didn't understand the op. The op already speak about regularly learn, is est חזרות and you answer it fine
    – kouty
    Commented May 28, 2020 at 3:57

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