The Shulchan Aruch and Rama (47:2) write: "[You] need to bless [birkas hatorah] whether for mikra (Tanach), whether for mishnah, whether for gemara. Note: (3) Whether for midrash (Tur)."

The Mishnah Brurah (se'if katan 3) explains (citing the Pri Chadash): "The mechaber also agrees [that you have to say birkas hatorah for midrash], but he holds that [midrash] is included in mikra."

The mechaber holds that midrash is mikra? Does this mean that it counts as Torah shebichtav?

Some nafkei minayhu:

  • According to the idea in kabalah not to learn Torah shebichtav at night

  • According to the rule that you have to spend a third of your time learning Torah shebichtav

  • ba, The mechaber felt it was redundant to say midrash since when you learn midrash you learn the pesukim that are darshaned. Mishna does not include pesukim so the mechaber must mention that separately. Though your final questions may still be asked, but i would rephrase the question.
    – YDK
    Jul 25, 2012 at 4:13
  • @YDK According to that reason, he would allow reading midrash but skipping over the pesukim? Mishnah and gemara also quote pesukim (though less frequently)
    – b a
    Jul 25, 2012 at 4:17
  • No, because that is called mishna.
    – YDK
    Jul 25, 2012 at 4:41
  • 1
    @ba, prior to the mishna being condensed and written, it existed in a longer form of midrash halacha. Instead of the mishna stating the halacha as succinctly as possible, the midrash elaborated on how the halacha was extrapolated from the pasuk. The midrash that we are familiar with is the same idea, but aggadic in nature instead of halachik. So, effectively, that's what I am saying.
    – YDK
    Jul 26, 2012 at 3:29
  • 1
    @msh210, I'm not offering a well sourced answer for a well grounded question. menachem's answer fits that better.
    – YDK
    Jul 26, 2012 at 3:33

2 Answers 2


The source of this statement is Berachot 11b:

R. Huna said: For the reading of Scripture it is necessary to say a benediction, but for the study of the Midrash no benediction is required. R. Eleazar, however, says that for both Scripture and Midrash a benediction is required, but not for the Mishnah. R. Johanan says that for the Mishnah also a benediction is required, [but not for the Talmud]. Raba said: For the Talmud also it is necessary to say a blessing. R. Hiyya b. Ashi said: Many times did I stand before Rab to repeat our section in the Sifra of the School of Rab, and he used first to wash his hands and say a blessing, and then go over our section with us.

It strikes me that even if Rav Yosef Karo did include midrash within mikra for this halacha, this does not necessarily mean that he agrees that every place Chazal referred to Mikra, Midrash is included. After all, Chazal here took pains to distinguish them. IMHO, one should read the primary sources and determine if such a linguistic identification is compelling.

When the Rif brought down this gemara lehalacha, I thought that he had a different girsa, since he omitted reference to midrash until the very end. To cite my translation at my Rif blog:

{We have a different girsa of the following machloket in our gemara}

Rav Huna said: For Scripture one must make a blessing. For Mishna and Talmud one need not bless.

Rabbi Yochanan said: For Mishna one must make a blessing; For Talmud one need not bless.

R Eleazer said: Even for Talmud one must make a blessing.

Rav said: Even for Midrash one must make a blessing.

for Rav Chiyya bar Ashi said: many times I stood before Rav to learn the perek in Sifra of the school of Rav, and he first washed his hands and blessed and taught us the perek.

And Rav Hai Gaon z"l wrote that the halacha is in accordance with Rav, and the practice is like him.

The Rosh, who is the Tur's father, differs with the Rif and has a girsa like us, but here I will stress that, like us, he has the last statement regarding Sifra as a proof that one blesses for Gemara. That is, he puts it like our gemara, but with my added word in bold, to match the ד in the word דאמר, in our gemara and Rosh:

Raba said: For the Talmud also it is necessary to say a blessing. for R. Hiyya b. Ashi said: Many times did I stand before Rab to repeat our section in the Sifra of the School of Rab, and he used first to wash his hands and say a blessing, and then go over our section with us.

and then the Rosh ends like the Rif:

And Rav Hai Gaon z"l wrote that the halacha is in accordance with Rav, and the practice is like him.

Thus, the difference between these two girsaot is how to treat Sifra of the school of Rav. Is it midrash, or is it Gemara? And if so, the statement of Rav Hai Gaon (which one should see inside; this might resolve this) might bolster the one position of the other.

You can read the Tur, son of the Rosh, inside here, nine lines into mem-zayin. He says וצריך לברך למקרא למדרש ולמשנה ולתלמוד. (Slightly irregular vav pattern though, which might indicate some hesitation or tampering...)

In the commentary of the Beis Yosef to Tur (see link above), on the Tur, he simply states that this is the conclusion based on the gemara in Berachos. So when he omits it in Shulchan Aruch, it stands to reason that he meant to include it as in Beis Yosef. But perhaps not. Which means either (a) typographical error or (b) he thinks that it is implicit somehow in Mikra, as grouped by R' Eleazar, as the Pri Chadash says, or (c) he actually argues and holds like the Rosh, where Midrash is a machlokes and not the focus of Rav Hai Gaon's pesak.

(I have difficulty with (b) since Rav Yosef Karo surely would assume people would refer to the gemara and know that Midrash was listed separately, and thus deserves address.)

Rambam is readable here. He simply says הַמַּשְׁכִּים לִקְרוֹת בַּתּוֹרָה קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּקְרָא קִרְיַת שְׁמַע, בֵּין קָרָא בְּתוֹרָה שֶׁבִּכְתָב בֵּין בְּתוֹרָה שֶׁבְּעַל פֶּה.

Regardless, no, I don't think one can extrapolate, as discussed above. This does not mean that across all halachot, Mikra == Midrash. Though for some of them, such as people having reached levels of mastery of Torah, probably yes.

  • Did you consider that the Beis Yosef may have changed his position between writing the BY and writing the SA?
    – b a
    Jul 25, 2012 at 5:43
  • yes, and thought that i had mentioned it as a possibility. oops! in general, though, the Beis Yosef expects the reader to read Beis Yosef in order to understand what he wrote in Shulchan Aruch. (i think he wrote as much in one of his introductions.) Jul 25, 2012 at 10:45

The Shulchan Aruch HaRav, in Hilchot Talmud Torah Chapter 2, Halacha 1, it says:

אך פירוש המקרא ודרשות ההגדות יחשבו בכלל שליש במשנה לפי שהמשנה ג"כ פירוש התרי"ג מצות שבתורה‏

But explanations on the verses, as well as expositions and sayings are considered as "the third of Mishna", since the Mishna also explains the 613 Mitzvot in the Torah.

Footnote 33 (Almost the entire footnote is added by the editor of the new Kehot re-typeset edition) points out a statement the Baal HaTanya and the Shulchan Aruch made in Likutei Torah:

לקו"ת ויקרא ה, ד. שה"ש ג, סע"ג (דהיינו דוקא ספרא וספרי שיש בהם הלכות וגופי תורה, אבל מדרש רבה וכיו"ב שהן אגדות שעל המקרא אפשר שהן בכלל שליש במקרא, וש"נ). ‏

See Likutei Torah Vayikra 5, column 4 and Shir HaShirim 3, end of column 3 ([Which says] this refers specifically to Halachic Midrash, such as the Sifra or Sifrei, but Midrash Rabbah and the like which are Agadot on the verse, it is possible that they are included in "the third of verses", see there for sources).

One of the sources in Likutei Torah Vayikra is Rashi's explanation of Berachot 11B: According to R' Elazar, why must one bless before learning Midrash because they are "close to Mikra...since they expound verses." [Even though R' Elazar would say that one only need bless before learing Mikra]

[Note that the discussion in the Shulchan Aruch HaRav is which branch of learning does Midrash fall under, and the discussion in the Talmud is if that learning requires a blessing]

I didn't really check out the other sources brought in Likutei Torah.


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