Halacha for Thursday 18 Iyar 5779 May 23 2019

Question: Is it obligatory to stand during the Birkot Ha’Shachar (morning blessings) and the Birkot Ha’Torah (blessings of the Torah)?

Answer: There are certain blessings which require one to be standing while reciting them. There is a unique reason for why one must stand while reciting each of these blessings. For instance, regarding the blessing on counting the Omer, the Torah states, “From when the sickle begins [to make contact] with the stalks (English for “Ba’Kamma”),” and our Sages expounded this to mean, “Be’Koma,” i.e. while standing.

The Opinion of the Gaon- One Must Stand During Any Blessing Which Involves No Enjoyment
It is written in the Responsa of the Geonim (Sha’arei Teshuva, Chapter 79 and as quoted by the Sefer Ha’Eshkol, Chapter 23): “The Gaon writes in one of his responses that all blessings must be recited while standing. This refers to blessings on Mitzvot which do not entail enjoyment; however, for blessings on things which involve enjoyment, on need not stand.” This means that there are two kinds of blessings: Blessings which do not involve any enjoyment, such as the blessings on Tzitzit, Lulav, and Birkot Ha’Torah, and there are blessings which our Sages enacted to recite on things from which one does derive enjoyment, such as Kiddush, “Leeshev Ba’Sukkah,” and the like. The Gaon writes that any blessing which does not involve any enjoyment should be recited while standing. Based on this, one should certainly recite the Birkot HaTorah while standing. The same response states that this is actually stated explicitly in the Talmud Yerushalmi.

The Opinion of Rabbeinu David Abudirhem-“Alatz Shalem
Nevertheless, the Responsa of the Geonim continues that some say there the obligation to stand applies to only six blessings; each one possessing a distinct reason why one must stand for that specific blessing.

Rabbeinu David Abudirhem composed an acronym for one to remember which blessings to recite while standing which is, “Alatz Shalem.” This is an acronym for “Omer” (counting the Omer), “Levana” (Blessing on the New Moon), “Tzitzit,” “Shofar,” “Lulav,” and “Milah” (Berit Milah). (The truth of the matter is that we customarily stand while reciting other blessings as well, but these are the primary ones.)

The Opinion of the Penei Yehoshua
It seems that according to the opinion of the Talmud Yerushalmi and the Gaon, one should recite the Birkot Ha’Torah while standing. However, the Penei Yehoshua (in his commentary on Tractate Megillah 21a) writes that only regarding Mitzvot whose performance is also done while standing should their blessings be recited while standing as well. For instance, regarding the Lulav which is taken while standing, one should recite the blessing on it while standing as well. However, regarding the reading of Megillat Esther which need not be done while standing, one need not recite the blessing on it while standing either. Other great Acharonim rule likewise.

The Bottom Line
Therefore, Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes (Responsa Yechave Da’at Volume 5, Chapter 4) since there is no obligation to stand while learning Torah, the Birkot Ha’Torah need not be recited while standing either. Similarly, the Birkot Ha’Shachar need not be recited while standing since only when the performance of a Mitzvah is done while standing must its blessing also be recited while standing (and the Birkot Ha’Shachar were not enacted for Mitzvah performance at all).

Indeed, the Rama (Rabbeinu Menachem Azarya) of Pano writes in one of his responses that the Birkot Ha’Torah may indeed be recited while seated, as the Torah writes regarding Torah learning, “When you shall sit in your house.” The Peri Megadim adds that our Sages did not require one to recite Keri’at Shema and its blessings while standing because one is able to concentrate better while sitting. This would surely apply to Birkot Ha’Torah as well, which according to some is a Torah obligation and must surely be recited with great concentration. Thus, they may be recited while seated.

Summary: The Birkot Ha’Shachar and Birkot Ha’Torah need not be recited while standing; rather, one may recite them while seated.

Ask the Rabbi


8 Halachot Most Popular

The Laws of Fire on Yom Tov

In previous Halachot we have explained that Yom Tov and Shabbat are equal regarding all prohibitions besides for certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking, which are permitted on Yom Tov. Igniting a Flame One may not produce a new fire on Yom Tov, for instance by strik......

Read Halacha

The Holiday of Shavuot- Teachings of Kindness

The Torah introduces the momentous event of the giving of the Torah to the Jewish nation with the verse (Shemot 19), “On the third month from when the children of Israel left Egypt, on this day they arrived at the Sinai desert.” Our Sages in the Pesikta ask: Why is it that the Torah w......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Cooking on Yom Tov

In the previous Halachot we have explained that although Shabbat and Yom Tov are equal in their prohibition to perform work on them and it is therefore a Torah prohibition to drive a car on Yom Tov, nevertheless, certain works associated with food preparation, such as cooking and frying, are permitt......

Read Halacha

The Holiday of Shavuot- Coronavirus

The holiday of Shavuot will be celebrated, G-d willing, at the conclusion of the period of the counting of the Omer this coming Friday (beginning from Thursday night), the 6th of Sivan (and outside of Israel on Shabbat, the 7th of Sivan as well). Let us, therefore, begin to discuss some of the perti......

Read Halacha


Reciting Kaddish

Question: What is the significance of reciting Kaddish for a deceased individual? Answer: When an individual departs from this world, his surviving children must make a concerted effort to pray with a Minyan three times a day in order to be able to recite Kaddish for their father or mother. Simil......

Read Halacha

Using an Electric Hotplate (Plata) For Both Meat and Dairy

If one uses an electric hotplate to warm meat pots and the like, it is quite common that some of the meat food inside these pots will sometime fall onto the hotplate thus causing the hotplate to absorb this meat flavor. As such, if one then wishes to place dairy foods onto the hotplate, if one does ......

Read Halacha

An After-Blessing After Drinking Tea or Coffee-An Incident Involving Hagaon Harav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt”l

In the previous Halacha we have discussed the basic laws of reciting an after-blessing after drinking a beverage in that as long as has drunk a Revi’it (approximately 81 cc or 2.8 fluid ounces) of the beverage in one shot (in a continuous manner without interruption between gulps), one recites......

Read Halacha

Question: Must one recite the “Boreh Nefashot Rabbot” blessing after drinking hot tea or coffee?

Answer: We have already discussed on several occasions that after drinking any beverage, one must recite the “Boreh Nefashot” after-blessing. The amount one must drink in order to become obligated to recite this blessing is a Revi’it in one shot, i.e. approximately 81 cc or 2.8 flu......

Read Halacha