Tachanun When A Chosson Is Present

1. The chosson does not recite tachanun during the seven festive days. Any minyan where the chosson is present does not recite tachanun. (Shulchan Aruch 131:4 and Mishnah Berurah)

2. If the chosson left the synagogue before tachanun the poskim disagree as to whether tachanun is recited. (Ishei Yisroel page 268)

3. If the chosson is not in the Synagogue but the kallah is in the women’s section, tachanun is still recited. (Yaskil Avdi 7 Hashmatos 3 and Shevet Halevi 5:12)

4. The Maharsham (Daas Torah 131:4) writes that even if the chosson is not praying with the minyan, his mere presence warrants the omission of tachanun. However, the Aishal Avraham of Botchetch writes that if the chosson is in the Synagogue but is not praying with the minyan, tachanun should be recited. It is preferable, however, for him to avoid this question by leaving before tachanun. This is also the view of Rav Ovadia Hadaya zt”l. Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l says that if the chosson enters a synagogue not intending to stay long and he happens to be present when the congregation is about to pray tachanun, then tachanun should be recited. If, however, the chosson intends to stay in the synagogue, even if he is not praying with the minyan, tachanun is omitted. (Shalmei Simcha page 139)

5. If there is a “break away minyan” outside of the main synagogue and there is a chosson praying in the main synagogue, the poskim discuss whether tachanun is recited in the “break away minyan.” They conclude that if the “break away minyan” has its own aron kodesh and bima, it is then considered it’s own synagogue and they would recite tachanun. If, however it does not have an aron kodesh and bima, it is considered an extension of the main synagogue and this minyan is also freed from the obligation to recite tachanun. (See Shulchan Haezer vol. 2 page 119)

6. The Taz writes that it is better for the chosson to pray on his own this week, then to pray with a minyan because his attendance will cause the omission of tachanun. The Sefer Toras Chaim strongly questions this ruling. He cites many poskim who say that if the chosson steps out of the Synagogue before tachanun, then the tzibbur does not omit tachanun. Therefore, argues the Toras Chaim, the chosson can attend the minyan and just step out before the tachanun prayer is recited. This way he will be able to pray with a minyan. (We have seen that it is indeed an argument among the poskim whether tachanun is recited if the chosson left the synagogue (Halacha 2) before tachanun. Perhaps this is the area of contention between the Toras Chaim and the Taz.) The Sefer Shulchan Haezer rules in accordance with the Taz. He adds that the chosson should preferably gather a minyan together in his home.

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Forgetting The Torah (Part 3)- Walking Between Two Women and Sleeping With Clothes Under One’s Head

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

Please Read Forgetting The Torah (Part 1) before reading this post.

Walking Between Two Women

1. The Gemara in Horayos (13b) writes that a man passing between two women can cause forgetfulness. Similarly, the Gemara in Pesachim (111a) states, “There are three things that should not pass between two men and a man should not pass between two of them. And these are a dog, a palm tree and a woman. And some say, also a pig. And some say, also a snake. And if they do pass in between, what is the remedy? Rav Pappa says that he should recite the verses found in Numbers 23:22-23, which begin with the word “Kel” (Almighty) and concludes with the word “Kel.” Alternatively, he should recite the verse in Numbers 23:19, which begins with the word “Lo” and concludes with the phrase ‘Lo Yekimenah.’”

2. This issue of not walking between two women is cited by the Aruch Hashulchan (2:6). The Chazon Ish (Sefer Hazikaron 2:19, Taameh Dekra 29) and Harav Elyah Lopian zt”l (see Rivevos Efraim 3:525) are both cited as being very diligent not to walk between two women.

3. Rav Yosef Chaim Zonenfeld zt”l (Salmas Chaim 503) maintains that there is only a problem if a man travels between two women who are stationary. However, if all three are walking (as is common in busy streets), even if the man is walking in between the women, there is no concern of forgetfulness.

4. The Ben Ish Chai (year 2 Pinchas 17) writes that if two men travel in between two women it is permissible. In addition, the problem only exists if the two women are standing within four amos of each other.

5. Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a (Sefer hazikaron ibid.) posits that one may walk between girls who are under the age of twelve. This is also the view of Harav Nissam Karelitz shlit”a (Chut Shani Even Haezer page 69).

6. The Maharsham (4th edition 4:148) questions whether one is permitted to walk between two non-Jewish women. He concludes that if one wishes to be lenient he should recite the verses described in the Gemara cited above. The Sefe Otzar Hachaim (1034) discusses this issue and he offers a definitive ruling. He writes that one may not pass between two non-Jewish women.

7. The same law applies to one’s relatives. Therefore, one may not walk between his two daughter’s or his daughter and his wife. (Rivevos Efraim ibid. Sefer Shemiras Haguf V’Nefesh page 333)

8. The poskim write that if one needs to walk between two women, or if a woman is walking between two men, one should carry an item in his hand and that negates the issue. If one does not have an item to carry he should grab his peyos. (Rishfei Eish 334)

Sleeping With Clothes Under One’s Head-

1. The Gemara (Horayos 13b) lists sleeping with clothing under one’s head amongst five activities that cause one to forget his learning. This means that one may not substitute clothing for a pillow.

2. The Mishnah Berurah (2:2) rules that if one places something in between the clothing and his head (such as a pillowcase) it is permissible. A similar ruling was expressed by Harav Yaakov Emden zt”l (Sidur Hanhagos Haboker 2). Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a, however, disagrees with this lenient ruling.

3. Harav Yosef Chaim Zonenfeld zt”l maintains that if the clothing does not belong to him he may use it as a pillow.

הקשו האחרונים מההיא דתנן בריש תמיד (כ”ה:) לא היו הכהנים ישנים בבגדי קודש אלא היו פושטין ומניחין הבגדי קודש תחת ראשיהן, ע”ש. והרי המניח כליו תחת מראשותיו בא לידי שכחה. ובשו”ת שלמת חיים ח”א סימן י’ תירץ הגאון רבי יוסף חיים זונפלד זצ”ל דדוקא כליו אסור אבל כשלובש בגד של אחר מותר ליתן תחת מראשותיו, ולכן בגדי כהונה שהם קודש ואינם כליו ליכא איסור. ועל חידוש זה דן הגר”ח קניבסקי שליט”א בספר הזכרון, ומסיק ולכן קשה להקל בכל זה. אכן מסיים: “מיהו בבגד חברו שאינו לובשו הוא אפשר שאינו בכלל כליו דלא דמי לכל הני דשם מיירי בלבשו בהם”. ועוד תירץ בשלמת חיים הנ”ל דדוקא ברגיל אסור. אכן הגאון רבי חיים קניבסקי שליט”א העיר דכאן בגמ’ לא הוזכר רגיל כמו שהזכירו גבי זיתים. וגם במהרי”ל הנ”ל מבואר להדיא דגם באקראי יש לחוש. וכן בשו”ת יביע אומר ח”ב יו”ד סימן ח’ חולק עליו ע”ש.

4. One may nap on his sleeve and it is not considered sleeping on clothing (Sefer Hazikaron).

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Forgetting The Torah (Part 1)

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

Jewish law places a tremendous amount of importance on amassing Torah knowledge and not to G-d forbid forget one’s learning. Throughout the Gemara and Medrash our Sages tell us of numerous activities which one should avoid since they are “kasha l’shichcha,” cause one to forget his learning. In the next few blogs we will discuss some of the more common and more obscure actions which can cause one to forget his studies. For a full list of things that one should avoid please see Harav Chaim Kanievsky’s Sefer Hazikaron.

Section 1: The Prohibition-

1. The Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (3:8) says that anyone who forgets what he has learned is considered to be deserving of death. The source for this is a verse in Parshas Va’eschanan, which says: “Only beware for yourself and greatly beware for your soul, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen and lest you remove them from your heart all the days of your life, and make them known to your children and your children’s children” (Devarim 4:9). Similarly the Gemara in Menachos 99b says in the name of Reish Lakish that someone who forgets what he has learned has transgressed the negative commandment of the aforementioned pasuk. The Gemara explains that since the verse uses the words “hi’shamer” (beware) and “pen” (lest), this verse constitutes a negative commandment. This prohibition is cited by the Smak (9, 105), Smag (Lo Saaseh 13) and Yireim (28).

2. The Shulchan Aruch Harav (Talmud Torah 2:4) likewise rules that one who abstains from reviewing his learning and therefore forgets it has transgressed a biblical prohibition. This is only true if he neglected to review his learning due to laziness, however, if he does not have time to review because of his work and the like he is considered an “ones” and has not transgressed. He also adds that the prohibition applies even today where the oral law is written down.

[While this seems like an obvious ruling, in fact the opinion of Harav Chaim Volozhiner was that the prohibition only applied when the oral Torah was just that “oral.” Once the oral Torah was written it is no longer possible to forget Torah.]

ראיתי דבר חדש מהגרי”זּ הלוי, שכתב הכתר ראש (אות ס”ז) בשם הגר”ח מוואלאזין, וז”ל: “בענין שוכח דבר אחר ממשנתו, זה קאי על הראשונים שלמדו בעל פה”, עכ”ל. וביאר בחדושי מרן רי”ז הלוי על התורה (פרשת ואתחנן, על הכתוב “והיו הדברים האלה”) שעיקר האיסור שלא לשכח דבר אחד מן התורה קאי דוקא על התורה שבעל פה הנמסרת מדור לדור, מרב לתלמיד פה אל פה, כדי שלא תשתכח. אבל אחר שכבר נכתב התלמוד, ונפסקה הקבלה של תורה שבעל פה איש מפי איש, שוב אין זה בכלל שוכח דבר אחד ממשנתו, ע”כ. אכן בשו”ע הרב מבואר דלא כדברי הגר”ח. ויש לבאר שנחלקו בגדר האיסור לשכוח דבר אחד מן התורה, האם הוא על הגברא- שלא ישכח, או על התורה גופה, שאנו נזהרים שלא לשכוח את התורה באופן שתפסק מסירת התורה. שמדברי הגרי”ז מבואר, דזהו איסור על הגברא, שלא ישכח דבר אחד מן התורה, ולכן איסור זה נוהג תיכף כששכח דבר אחד ממשנתו, אע”פ שיכול לחזור ללומדו פעם שניה. ולהכי פשיטא ליה, דלא ישתנה איסור זה בשינוי הדורות. אולם הגר”ח ס”ל, שכל האיסור הוא שלא לשכח את התורה באופן שתפסק מסירת התורה, ולפיכך פשיטא ליה דאיסור זה נאמר דוקא על הדורות הראשונים שלמדו בעל פה, שאם שוכח דבר אחד ממשנתו לא יוכל להעביר לתלמידו את כל מה שקיבל מרבו. אבל אחר שנכתבה תורה שבע”פ, אף אם ישכח דבר אחד ממשנתו אין התורה משתכחת, שהרי יכול הוא לעיין בספרים, לפיכך אין בזה איסור.

3. Interestingly, Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l uses this prohibition of forgetting Torah to prohibit double ring ceremonies. In the betrothal process, the giving of the ring is a means by which a kinyan is made. Here, the man is “acquiring” the woman. In a double-ring ceremony, where both the chosson and kallah give each other a ring (accompanied by commitments), it is unclear as to who is acquiring whom. This exchange of rings may lead to the erroneous conclusion that a woman can acquire a man for a husband. In addition this may lead to people forgetting the halachic kiddushin ceremony, which falls under the negative commandment of forgetting Torah. (Igros Moshe Even Haezer 3:18)

4. As stated above there are many activities that the Gemara warns against as it can lead to one forgetting his learning. The poskim debate whether performing these activities falls under the biblical prohibition stated above. Rav Chaim Palag’i, Rav Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld zt”l and the Aruch Hashulchan all feel that performing theses acts are biblically forbidden. However, the Sefer Chassidim seems to indicate that there is no prohibition. (See Yabia Omer Y.D. 2:8 and Sefer Shemiras Haguf V’Nefesh Mavo chapter 18 for a full discussion.)

5. Harav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a explains the view of the Sefer Chassidim. He writes that these actions do not actively cause one to forget his learning, rather, they weaken the mind’s ability to remember, which in turn may lead to forgetfulness. The Torah only forbids actively forgetting learning by deliberately not reviewing Torah. Merely weakening one’s ability to remember is not forbidden. It should, however, be avoided (Sefer Hazikaron).

6. The poskim write that women may perform the activities which the Gemara warns against (Mishmeres Shalom 72:2, Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a who adds that a child should not perform these activities).

7. The Yad Yitzchak (vol. 2 84:17) writes that an “am haaretz” (ignoramus) may also perform these activities.

If you have a question, comment, or an idea for an article please email me at avizakutinsky@gmail.com.

The Proper Order For Cutting Nails

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

1.The Rama, citing the Avudraham, writes that one should not cut their nails in order, as this leads to poverty, forgetfulness and r”l the loss of one’s children (Darkei Moshe 241). Rather, they should cut them in the following order: On one’s left hand he should first cut the nail of his ring finger, then index finger, then pinky, then middle, and finally thumb (4,2,5,3,1). On one’s right hand he should begin with cutting the nail of his index finger, then ring, then thumb, then middle, and finally pinky (2,4,1,3,5). (Rama 260 see also Shu”t Bitzeil Hachochma 3:53)

2. The Tehila L’David (260:2) and the Aruch Hashulchan (260:6) comment that although the Rama implies that one should first cut the fingernails on the left hand before the right hand that is not so and one should cut the right hand’s nails first. However, they cite the Kol Bo who writes that one should cut the left fingernails before the right fingernails.

3. According to the Chazon Ish one only needs to perform the above prescribed order when cutting one’s fingernails. However, one may cut one’s toenails in any order that one wishes (Sefer Hazicaron Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlit”a). This is also the view of Harav Chaim Naeh zt”l. (Ketzos Hashulchan 73:7)

4. The Arizal, however, was not careful about this matter, and would cut his fingernails in order, one after another. Although, the Magen Avraham and the Mishnah Berurah write that one should nevertheless act stringently in accordance with the ruling of the Rama, the Chida (Birkei Yosef 5) disagrees and rules that if the Arizal was not cautious about these matters, surely there must not be any danger involved. Therefore, one may rule leniently and one cuts his nails in order, one after another. For normative halacha, a rav should be consulted.

If you have a question, comment, or an idea for an article please email me at avizakutinsky@gmail.com.

When To Cut One’s Nails According To Halacha

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

1. The Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 260:1) writes that it is a mitzvah to cut one’s nails on Friday in order to honor Shabbos.

2. Harav Chaim Naeh zt”l (Ketzos Hashulchan 73 Badei Hashulchan 3) writes that there is only a mitzvah to cut one’s fingernails on Friday, since they are visible to others one should cut them in order to honor Shabbos. However, there is no obligation to cut one’s toenails on Friday. Yet, it should be noted that the Arizal would customarily cut his fingernails and toenails on Friday in honor of Shabbos (Shaar Hakavanos page 62).

3. The Aruch Hashulchan (260:6), Yesod V’Shoresh Haovodah (8:1) and Sifsei Cohen (cited in Taharas Hamayim tzadi 20) explain that it is preferable to cut one’s nails after midday (chatzos) on Friday. However, the Sefer Orchos Chaim (Spinka 285:4) cites those who rule that it is better to cut one’s nails before midday. It should be noted that the Ari Hakadosh would cut his nails after Mincha (which is also after midday) on Friday. (see Shaar Hakavanos ibid.)

4. The Mishna Berurah (260:6) writes that there is a custom not to cut one’s (fingernails) nails on Thursday. The reason being that nails begin to grow three days after being cut. Therefore if one cuts them on Thursday they will begin to grow on Shabbos. And causing them to begin growing on Shabbos reduces the level of honor for Shabbos, which was achieved by cutting them in the first place.

The Aruch Hashulchan (260:6) notes that there is no prohibition with causing them to grow on Thursday and therefore if one is unable to cut them on Friday he may do so on Thursday. In this instance it is better to cut them on Thursday than Wednesday (see Sefer Chut Shani Shabbos page 62).

[Harav Nissam Karelitz shlit”a adds that it goes without saying that if one’s nails grew long and are becoming bothersome one may cut them even during the week.]

5. Many poskim cite a custom not to cut one’s fingernails and toenails on the same day. Those who observe this custom should cut their toenails on Thursday and their fingernails on Friday (see Magen Avraham and Mishnah Berurah).

6. The Shulchan Aruch Harav (260:2) explains that the rational behind this custom is that it is “dangerous” to cut them both on the same day. The Yesod V’Shoresh Haovoda adds that it can also cause forgetfulness. This writer’s assumption is that these poskim were describing a spiritual danger and not a physical one.

7. In halacha the day follows the night. Based upon this concept the Gaon of Butchetch (Mili D’Chasidusa 57) writes that one may cut his fingernails during the day and toenails later that night since they were cut on two different hallachic days.

8. The Chida, however, writes that the Arizal would cut his fingernails and toenails on the same day and he was not particular with the previous halachos. He therefore writes that one may rule leniently as well.

9. Rav Yechial Safrin zt”l, known as the Komarna Rebbe, writes, “One may cut one’s fingernails and toenails on the same day since this was the custom of the Arizal. If one wishes to be stringent one should leave a baby toenail uncut.” (Shulchan Hatahor 260:3)

10. Harav Yehuda Hachasid writes in his will that one should not cut one’s hair or nails on Rosh Chodesh as this is considered spiritually dangerous. The Mishna Berurah adds that this is true even when Rosh Chodesh falls on a Friday. [There is a much larger discussion as to whether one must adhere to the will of Rav Yehuda Hachasid.]

11. We cited above (Halacha 4) that one should refrain from cutting one’s nails on Thursday as it causes them to grow on Shabbos. However, if Rosh Chodesh falls on Friday one may cut one’s nails on Thursday (Darkei Chaim V’Shalom 353 Az Nidberu 12:4).

12. Harav Yaakov Kaminetzky zt”l (Emes L’Yaakov Shulchan Aruch) maintains that if Thursday and Friday are Rosh Chodesh one may cut one’s hair on Friday. He begins by questioning the ruling of the Mishnah Berurah who warns against getting a haircut when Rosh Chodesh falls on a Friday since the performance of the mitzvah of preparing and honoring Shabbos should protect him from any danger that Harav Yehuda Hachasid warns against. He explains that the Magen Avraham and Mishnah Berurah feel that getting a haircut on Thursday is also a fulfillment of the mitzvah of honoring Shabbos. Therefore, if Rosh Chodesh falls on a Friday one should not get the haircut on that day since one can perform the mitzvah by getting a haircut on Thursday. However, if Rosh Chodesh is on Thursday and Friday one can not perform the mitzvah unless he gets a haircut on Rosh Chodesh. Therefore one should get his haircut on Friday and he can assume that the mitzvah of honoring Shabbos will protect him. The author assumes that this leniency would extend to cutting one’s nails as well, however, for normative halacha a Rav should be consulted.

If you have a question, comment, or an idea for an article please email me at avizakutinsky@gmail.com.

Learning Tanach At Night (Part 2)

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

What Is Permissible To Learn-

1. There is a great debate amongst the authorities as to whether one may recite Tehillim at night. The Chida in Shu”t Chaim Shaul writes that the great mekubal Rav Shalom Sharabi noticed that many Israeli communities recited Tehillim in the early hours of the day (before sunrise). In an effort to explain the strange practice he explained that “perhaps Tehillim was not included in the Gezaira of the Arizal,” however, he was not definitive in this view. The Chida further noted that the kabbalists refrain from reciting Tehillim at night. Indeed, the Sefer Pesach Devir cites those that prohibit reciting Tehillim at night. (see Tzitz Eliezet 8:2)

2. The Chida in his Shu”t Yosef Ometz seems to offer a slightly more permissive view. He once again notes that many people customarily recite Tehillim at night. He writes that “I heard from one of the great kabbalists of the day [seemingly referring to Rav Shalom Sharabi] that Tehillim is not included in the what the great Arizal warned against and may be studied at night.” The Chida adds that a permissible view is supported from the Midrash (Bereshit Rabba, Chapter 68, Section 14) that Yaakov Avinu read Tehillim at night. Similarly, King David composed and authored most of Tehillim in the wee hours of the night. The Chida concludes that “if one asks me if one is permitted to read Tehillim at night, I will reply that he has on whom to rely. However, I myself am wary about reading Tehillim at night, besides for on the night of Shabbos.” The Ben Ish Chai, in his Shu”t Rav Poalim (2:2), cites the view of the Chida and concludes that although he would not rebuke those that are lenient, if the person would come and ask him, he would tell him to study portions of the Oral Torah, such as Mishnah, Gemara, or Zohar.

3. Rav Yaakov Niño writes in his Sefer Emet Le’Yaakov that in spite of the words of the Chida, the custom has become to read Tehillim at night after halachic midnight (chatzos). The Ben Ish Chai (Pekudei 7) also writes that one may recite Tehillim after chatzos (although in his Rav Poalim he rules stringently, as noted above). Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l also rules that there is room to allow reading Tehillim after halachic midnight, for the Chida certainly changed his mind regarding the doubt he raises in his Responsa Yosef Ometz. As the Chida writes in his personal diary from the year 5563 (1803): “Teves, Monday night. I was ill and I could not sleep during the night so I read the entire Tehillim and I then went to pray, with Hashem’s help.” It seems that the Chida also saw room for leniency since Tehillim is not included in the prohibition banning Tanach at night. Therefore, those who read Tehillim after halachic midnight certainly have on whom to rely (Yabia Omer vol. 10 page 125).

4. However, other authorities are even more lenient and allow one to recite Tehillim at night even before midnight. This is the view of the Gaon of Botchetch (Aishel Avraham 238), Rav Yisroel Chaim Friedman zt” (cited in Tzitz Eliezer 8:2) and Harav Eliezer Yehuda Waldenberg zt”l. Harav Moshe Stern zt”l (Beer Moshe) writes that one may definitely recite Tehillim after chatzos for any reason. Before chatzos one may (and should) recite Tehillim if one is doing so for a sick person.

5. Rav Chaim Medini zt”l writes that if one committed a certain sin and the prescribed atonement is to recite certain chapters of Tehillim one may recite them at night according to all the authorities (Shu”t Ohr Li 40).

6. The Shu”t Vayechi Yaakov (9) asks how we recite many prayers at night that are filled with verses of Tanach. He responds that the Arizal was warning against learning Tanach. However, reciting verses of Tanach not in the context of learning, rather as a prayer is permissible. However, the poskim who prohibit reciting Tehillim at night (cited above) clearly do not agree with this view as Tehillim is recited as a prayer and not in the context of learning. Indeed, the Vayechi Yaakov allows one to recite Tehillim at night for a sick person.

7. Rav Yechiel Meir Lifschitz (Lipschutz) of Gustinin maintains that one may learn Chumash with Rashi at night. The issue is learning Tanach without commentaries, however, learning it with comentaries is permissible. Learning with Onkelas, however, is not permissible (as noted in the previous post- this law does not apply to Friday night, therefore Shenayim Mikra is permissible on Friday night).

If you have a question, comment, or an idea for an article please email me at avizakutinsky@gmail.com.

Learning Tanach At Night (Part 1)

(This should not be relied upon for practical halacha. When a question arises a Rabbi should be consulted.)

The Source-

1. Harav Chaim Vital zt”l cites the Arizal that, based upon kabbalistic reasons, one should not read the written Torah (Tanach) at night. (Shaar Hamitzvos Veschanan page 35b)

This teaching is also cited by the Chida in numerous places (Birkei Yosef 1:13, 238:2, Chaim Shaul 2:25, Yosef Ometz 54). He writes that there is basis for this custom from the Medrash. The Medrash states that when Moshe Rabbeinu ascended to Heaven to receive the Torah, Hashem taught him the Written Torah during the day and the Oral Torah at night. Therefore, we do not learn the Written Torah at night just as Moshe Rabbeinu did not learn it at night.

Indeed, the Rikanti (a Rishon and Kabbalist) writes the following, “It should be known that one needs to learn the Written Torah during the day and the Oral Torah at night. Similarly, the Medrash states that during the forty days that Moshe Rabbeinu was in Heaven (receiving the Torah) he learned the Written Torah during the day and the Oral Torah at night (Yisro 45a).”

2. The Chida (cited by Ben Ish Chai Pekudei 7) maintains that this law was only stated for those that are capable of learning the oral law. However, people that are only able to learn Tanach may do so at night. Harav Ovadia Yosef zt”l (Yabia Omer 6:30:2) cites a similar ruling from the Sefer Chemdas Yamim who writes that one who is only able to learn Tanach may do so at night. This is obviously preferred from having him sit idle by all night.

3. Similarly, a child who is unable to learn the Oral law may learn Tanach at night (Shu”t Yayin Hatov 54).

4. The Mishna Berurah (Shaar Hatzion 238) writes that even the Arizal never intended to prohibit learning Tanach at night. Rather, it is preferable to learn other things at night.

5. The Chida (cited in Ikrei Had”t 22:57) writes that one should not rebuke those that learn the Written Torah at night. Harav Chaim Medini zt”l, the author of the Sefer Sdei Chemed, writes that there are numerous Gemaros which imply that one may learn Tanach at night. It is possible, he continues, that this is a case where there is a halachic dispute between the Gemara and Kabbalah and one follows the view of the Gemara. Therefore, although one should not rule leniently one should not rebuke or prohibit the masses (amei haaretz) from learning Tanach at night. (Shu”t Ohr Li 40) [Indeed, the Pri Megadim (cited by the Shaar Hatzion) seems to maintain that one may learn Tanach at night, not in accordance with the Arizal. Perhaps he feels, like Rav Chaim Medini zt”l, that the Gemara is in disagreement with the Arizal.]

When Does This Law Apply-

6. The Sefer Mei Yehuda (22) maintains that the issue of learning Tanach at night begins after nightfall (tzeis hakochavim). One may learn during bein hashmashos, the time between shkiyas hachama and tzeis hakochavim.

7. Rav Meir ben Judah Leib Poppers zt”l, a kabbalist who lived in the mid 1600’s, writes that one only needs to refrain from learning Tanach before chatzos. Following chatzos one may learn Tanach (Ohr Tzadikim Tefila 1:11). A similar view can be found in the Sefer Mishmeres Shalom (23). This is also the view of Harav Ovadia Hadaya zt”l (Yaskil Avdi 4 K”A 2). However, it is quite clear that virtually all the authorities, including the Chida, Ben Ish Chai and Rav Shalom Sharabi zt”l, make no distinction between before chatzos and after chatzos, both are problematic for learning Tanach. (See the next blog for a discussion as to reciting Tehillim before and after chatzos)

8. Harav Chaim Vital writes that on Thursday night one may learn Tanach. Due to the proximity to Shabbos there is added rachamim (mercy) which enables one to learn Tanach without concern of any danger. (see also Vayeishev Hayam 1:6)

9. The Malbim (Ortzos Hachaim 1:36) adds that if it is permissible to learn on Thursday night, all the more so on Friday night. He thereby explains a seemingly puzzling opinion of Rashi. Rashi (explaining a Gemara Kiddushin 30) explains that one divides the week into three sections – two days Chumash, two days Mishnah and two days Gemara. The question the Malbim asks is how can one spend two days learning Chumash if one cannot learn Chumash at night. He answers that one may learn Tanach on Thursday night and Friday night. Therefore, the two days that Rashi is referring to is from Thursday night through Shabbos. The Chida also permits learning Tanach on Friday night.

10. The Malbim continues to cite the Mishna in Yoma (18b) which states that if the Kohen Gadol is able to read Tanach he should spend the night of Yom Kippur reading Scripture. The Malbim questions how this was permissible. He therefore proves that on Yom Kippur one may learn Tanach. Indeed, the Ben Ish Chai writes that one may learn Tanach on the nights of Yom Tov (Pekudei 7).

11. The Ben Ish Chai writes that there is no leniency for the night of Rosh Chodesh (Rav Poalim vol. 2 Orach Chaim 2).

12. The Sefer Zechor L’Avraham (Vol. 3 Lamed) asks how we are able to recite the prayer “Veyitein L’Cha” on Motzei Shabbos as it is comprised of verses from Tanach. He writes that as long as one has not yet eaten the melava malka meal the holiness of Shabbos is still somewhat in existence and one may learn Tanach.

13. The Gaon of Butchetch (238) writes that “perhaps it is permissible for ten men to learn Tanach together at night.” Similarly, the Avnei Tzedek (Y.D. 102) writes that one may conduct a public shiur on Tanach at night. The zechus of public learning removes any kabbalistic concerns. However, most authorities maintain that there is no difference between an individual and a group regarding this halacha.

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