If someone,for whatever reason, cannot say Birchas HaTorah, would that person nevertheless be able to learn Torah that day?

  • I'm not really sure I can think of a case where this can feasibly occur. If you're in a state to speak words of Torah, you should also be in a state to say the Brachos first. Can you try to give an example where this can occur, to explain the situation a bit more clearly? Jul 17, 2016 at 19:53
  • @sal a relevant case could be of he has a doubt if he already said them. Then we might say safek brachot lehakel but he still wants to learn
    – Double AA
    Jul 17, 2016 at 22:03
  • @DoubleAA I guess that may be possible. I was getting the impression from the question though that it wasn't a case of Safek whether or not he said it, but rather we know he didn't say it, and for some reason, he can't say it right now. sye81397, would you be able to clarify your question? Jul 19, 2016 at 1:51

2 Answers 2


There is a difference according to the SA OC 47, 4 between thinking and speaking about Torah. For speaking one needs a Bracha, but not for thinking (for more details see Beur Halacha). For writing, SA OC 47, 3 one needs a Bracha as for speaking. See Acharonim for details. I just want to say that your man can learning by thinking but not by speaking or by writing.

For Birkat Hatorah we are allowed to say it at all time, so I don't really understand how someone cannot say Birkas Hatora

Anyway, the second blessing before Kriat Shema, of Shacharit and of Arvit may help, because if someone says it with the intention to allow for himself to learn torah, it is good as if he said Birkat hatora SA OC 47, 7. So if he can bless Ahava, he can study Torah.

I didn't want to talk about hirhur Kedibur, but a good question from @DanF about listening to someone else which is saying or reading Torah was asked and is very important. Gemara Brachot 20b said that despite that Hirhur lav Kedibur, because there was some speaking, because Shomea Keone, they was in duty to be clean. To listen the voice of someone who says Divre Torah is different from thinking alone silently. See below.

Tosfot Brachot 20b:

דאשכחן בסיני. פירוש אף ע''ג דכדבור דמי לענין שיצא מ''מ לאו כדבור דמי לענין שיהא בעל קרי אסור להרהר כדאשכחן בסיני דהיה שם דבור והיו צריכין לטבול ואע''פ שהיו שותקין שומע כעונה [סוכה לח:]: ‏

I am not sure that the halacha is congruent to this Tosfot. The Mishna in Bikurim 3, 7 seems a little hard with this pshat, now I cannot verify.

And in the Tosfot below we see that Rabenu Tam and Ri thought that listening Kedusha is an hefsek, a greater Chiddush, not ruled in halacha. See the passage below in bold.

Tosfot 21b:

וכתב רש''י בסוכה פרק לולב הגזול (דף לח:) דאדם המתפלל ושמע מפי החזן קדיש או קדושה אינו יכול להפסיק ולענות עם הצבור אלא ישתוק וימתין מעט דשומע כעונה וי''ל דלכתחלה אין לעשות כן דענייה חשיבא טפי הדור מצוה.‏

Rashi said that when someone is praying Amida and hear the Chazan saying Kaddish or Kedusha, he needs to be silent and hearing to be Yotse because of Shomea Keone.

ור''ת ור''י היו אומרים דאדרבה אי שומע כעונה הוי הפסקה אם שותק. ‏

Rabenu Tam and Ri taught not listen kedusha or Kadish in the middle of Amida because Shomea Keone is hefsek.

ומ''מ נהגו העם לשתוק ולשמוע וגדול המנהג. ‏

The minhag follows Rashi against RT and Ri. ‏

  • What about reading or listening to a d'var Torah or drasha from someone else? Or are these included in the category of "thinking"?
    – DanF
    Jul 18, 2016 at 15:26
  • @DanF for listening I asked myself if there is not a problem of Shomea Keone and still not verified this
    – kouty
    Jul 18, 2016 at 16:13
  • Let us continue this discussion in chat.
    – kouty
    Jul 18, 2016 at 18:26
  • I would be very grateful if the downvoter explain what is wrong in my post
    – kouty
    Jan 14, 2020 at 19:32

R' Shlomo Zalman Aurebach (Minchas Shlomo Siman 91) quotes Reb Tzvi Pesach Frank, the Rav of Jerusalem, as ruling that one who cannot say Birchas Hatorah is forbidden to learnt Torah.

R' Shlomo Zalman himself disagrees, ruling that just because one cannot fulfill his obligation of Birchas HaTorah, it is not a reason not be fulfill obligation of Limud Torah.

זה חידוש גדול, שהרי לא מצינו שיאמרו חז"ל שאסור לעשות מצוה בלא ברכה כמו שאמרו לענין ברכת הנהנין, ולמה יתבטל מלימוד התורה שהוא יותר חשוב מכל המצוות שבתורה בכלל זה שאינו יודע לברך (מנחת שלמה סי' צ"א)

A similar disagreement is cited between R' Chaim Solovetchik and R' Elya Baruch Kamoi (quoted in אסופות הגר"ח).

In regards to performing mitzvos in general without a bracha, R' Akiva Eiger (Gilyon Hashas Berachos 12a) writes that there is no prohibition.

  • Does RSZ allow early kiddush on Shemini Atzeres?
    – Heshy
    Jan 14, 2020 at 13:53
  • I'm guessing you are talking about the problem of leishev? That is very different. When you have a choice to perform the mitzva without a bracha now or with a bracha later, it is obviously better to perform it in it's correct form. But in regards to the torah you want to learn now, there is no reason not to do so.
    – chortkov2
    Jan 14, 2020 at 17:24
  • Yes, the problem of leisheiv. On Shemini Atzeres it's not a choice of without a bracha now or with a bracha later - it's a choice of without a bracha now, or it won't be Sukkos anymore and the mitzvah is gone. (I'm not talking about the first night, though I think there are interesting points to be made there too.)
    – Heshy
    Jan 14, 2020 at 17:26

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