Say you are about to perform some action. You then realize that there might be some halachic issues involved. You begin to enter a thought process about what is the halachically right thing to do.

Does entering this thought process count towards Talmud Torah, even if there is no speech involved?


1 Answer 1


The Maharal in Nesiv HaTorah towards the end of chapter 4 writes that one does not need to make a Birkas haTorah on thoughts of Torah. The Maharal explains that this is because a person is defined by speech, as Onkelos translates ויהי האדם לנפש חיה, Man became a living being, as רוח ממללא, a speaking being. Man is defined by the intersect between the intellect and the body, which is exemplified in the bringing out of the thought into speech, which requires the combination of intellect and action (this is expanded in Gevuros Hashem ch. 28). The intellect, and therefore thought, is not really part of the person (this is expanded on in ch. 9), and therefore involvement in Torah in thought is not really the person himself being involved. It is only through speech that the person is considered to himself be involved in Torah.

The Maharal does not explicitly say that this is not considered Talmud Torah, but the implication of not requiring the Birkas haTorah implies that this is not a fulfillment of the mitzvah of Talmud Torah.

  • Do we paskin this way? If we did then anyone reading a torah book without verbalizing the words would not be fulfilling Talmud Torah.
    – Ani Yodea
    Jan 20, 2015 at 20:41
  • @AniYodea I don't know how "we" pasken, but this site isn't for paskening. In any event, the Maharal there brings several reasons why you should be learning out loud anyways. Jan 20, 2015 at 20:43
  • By we I mean the modern day poskim - not the users of this site.
    – Ani Yodea
    Jan 20, 2015 at 20:44
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    @AniYodea fulfilling the mitzvah of talmud Torah and the requirement to make birkas hatorah are not necessarily the same. It's a complicated issue Jan 20, 2015 at 23:29

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