| Halachah |

In Tune with Torah

If you slept a half an hour or more without interruption, you recite all of the brachos


Prepared for print by Faigy Peritzman

Mornings are chaotic in my house, and I wake up, wash netilas yadayim, and jump into action. Must I say birchos haTorah right after I wash my hands, or may I wait until I sit down to daven, after everyone has left the house?

Birchos haTorah are recited before one begins to learn Torah, just like any other mitzvah where a brachah is recited before performing the mitzvah. Therefore, there’s no reason for you to recite birchos haTorah as soon as you wash your hands, and you can wait to recite them when you’re ready to sit down and daven.

May I listen to a short shiur while I have my coffee before I daven?

It’s preferable and praiseworthy that you do not listen to a shiur until you recite birchos haTorah, but it’s not mandatory that you do so. There are two reasons why it is not mandatory: 1) Many poskim hold that women are not obligated in birchos haTorah altogether, since they’re exempt from learning Torah. 2) Many poskim hold that listening to a Torah recording is not considered “learning Torah” but only “thinking in Torah,” for which even men are not required to recite birchos haTorah.

As a young mother, I’m often up many nights with little or no sleep. What are the halachos regarding which brachos I should say or skip in the mornings?

If you slept a half an hour or more without interruption, you recite all of the brachos. If you slept less than half an hour, then you may recite all brachos except for Elokai neshamah, birchos haTorah, and hama’avir sheinah. [You may ask your husband to be motzi you for those brachos.] Al netilas yadayim and asher yatzar are recited when washing your hands after using the bathroom when you’re getting ready to daven.

In our small knit community, some people use the time between aliyos to catch up with each other, albeit quietly. Is it permitted to speak then since we women are anyway not involved with the aliyos?

Shul decorum, including ezras nashim decorum, mandates that “catching up with each other,” or other types of chatter, may not take place during davening at all — from the beginning until the end, including during Krias HaTorah and between the aliyos. [A short gut Shabbos greeting, or a similar off-hand remark not likely to extend into Krias HaTorah, is permitted by many poskim in between the aliyos.]

My daughter is very bored during this enforced virus lockdown and recently started listening to Gemara shiurim. Should I try to stop her?

It depends on the type of shiurim she’s listening to. If the shiurim deal with the intricate topics of Jewish halachah, or the complex sugyos of Kodshim and Taharos and the like, then you should object. In our tradition, women do not study Torah shebe’al peh, the Oral Torah, and nothing good will come out of that.

If, however, the Gemara shiurim are more focused on the many hashkafic, ethical, and moral ideas found in the Gemara (the sections of Gemara generally referred to as aggadeta) then there’s no reason to discourage her, even though the shiurim are based on Gemara or other sources of Torah shebe’al peh.

My husband is a gabbai and now that shuls are closed due to coronavirus, he has one of the shul’s sifrei Torah is in his study. What can or can’t we do in that room?

A sefer Torah must be treated with honor and respect. The best place to temporarily store a sefer Torah may not necessarily be in your husband’s study, which might be a busy place with constant activity.

Preferably, a sefer Torah should be placed in a room where little or no activity is taking place, e.g., a basement or an unused guest room. Additionally, if possible, the sefer Torah should be placed in its own compartment, such as a makeshift aron, a cabinet or a closet, which is clean and otherwise empty. It does not need to be wrapped in a tallis. The room should be properly ventilated.

If, however, there’s no dedicated room available for the sefer Torah, it is permitted to place the sefer Torah in any room (other than a used bedroom or a bathroom), as long as it is placed in its own compartment, as detailed above.

Under extenuating circumstances, it is also permitted to place the sefer Torah on a table which is at least 40 inches high, wrapped in a tallis. Undignified behavior, such as diapering a baby or training a toddler, being immodestly dressed, or even turning one’s back to the sefer Torah, is forbidden.


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 694)

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