Blessing Before Torah Study

I’ve begun studying Torah more regularly and wanted to know if there is some blessing I should say before doing so.

The Aish Rabbi Replies:

Yes, there is a set of two blessings to be recited before studying Torah. In fact, these blessings are more important than the blessings we say on food. The blessing we say before eating is based on a Rabbinical decree, while the blessings we say before studying Torah are a Torah obligation (derived from Deuteronomy 32:3). The only other blessing the Torah obligates us to say is Birkat HaMazon, grace after meals, when said after eating a full bread meal. (This is based on Deut. 8:10.)

The Talmud in fact states that the reason the First Temple was destroyed was because the Jews of the time did not recite a blessing before studying Torah (Baba Metziah 85b). As my teacher Rabbi Yochanan Zweig explains, Torah study is such a rewarding and satisfying experience, that there were great Jews in those times who found themselves studying the Torah just for its own sake – because they enjoyed the beauty of it and the intellectual stimulation – forgetting the God who gave it to them. They thus jumped into its study, neglecting to bless God over it first.

It is therefore especially important to begin our Torah study with the blessings – stating that ultimately we are studying Torah because God commanded us in it, and as a means of coming closer to Him. (Of course, studying Torah is enjoyable too – and God wants us to enjoy the experience of building a relationship with Him. We just may not enjoy it at the expense of doing it for God.) One must be careful not to study Torah at all until he has first recited the blessings (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 47:1, Mishna Berurah 2).

The blessings on the Torah are recited once a day, and that is effective for all the Torah we study that day. The reason for this is because Torah study is a constant obligation, one which should always be on our mind (Shulchan Aruch O.C. 47:10).

If you say the daily prayers, the blessings on the Torah are said near the beginning of Shacharit, the morning prayers. As soon as we say them, we do a bit of Torah study – reciting a few verses and statements of the Talmud – so that the blessings will be put into effect right away.

If you do not yet say the full morning prayers, you should say the blessings for Torah study before your first study session of the day.

Here is the text of the two blessings, in transliterated Hebrew (Ashkenazi pronunciation) and in English (English translation from the ArtScroll prayer-book). (Note that in general Hebrew emphasizes the final syllable of a word. When an earlier syllable is emphasized, I underline it below.)

Baruch attah Ado-nai, Elo-hainu melech ha’olam asher kee’di’shanu b’mitz’vosav v’tzeevanu la’asok b’deevrei sorah. V’ha’arev lanu Ado-nai Elo-hainu es divrei so’ra’secha b’feenu u’v’fee a’m’cha bais yisrael. V’nee’hee’yeh anachnu v’tze’etza’ainu v’tze’e’tza’ai a’m’cha bais yisrael kulanu yo’d’ai sh’mecha v’lo’m’dai sorasecha lishma. Baruch attah Ado-nai, ha’melamaid torah l’amo yisra’el.

Baruch attah Ado-nai, Elo-hainu melech ha’olam asher bachar banu mee’kol ha’amim, v’nasan lanu es toraso. Baruch attah Ado-nai nosain ha’torah.

Blessed are You, Hashem our God, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and has commanded us to engross ourselves in the words of Torah. Please, Hashem, our God, sweeten the words of Torah in our mouth and in the mouth of Your people, the family of Israel. May we and our offspring and the offspring of Your people, the house of Israel – all of us – know Your Name and study Your Torah for its own sake. Blessed are You, Hashem, who teaches Torah to His people Israel.

Blessed are You, Hashem our God, King of the universe, who selected us from all the peoples and gave us His Torah. Blessed are You, Hashem, giver of the Torah.

As the blessing says, may Torah study always be sweet to you!

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