Halacha for Sunday 8 Elul 5779 September 8 2019

Blessings of the Torah Before Selichot

Question: We customarily recite Selichot before Shacharit prayers. Must we recite the blessings of the Torah before Selichot?

Answer: “Blessings of the Torah” refers to the last three blessings of the morning blessings, namely “Al Divrei Torah,” “Ve’Ha’arev Na,” and “Asher Bachar Banu” as is printed in all Siddurim.

Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch (Chapter 46, Section 9) rules: “One should not read verses before having recited the blessings of the Torah, even when this is being done in a manner of supplication. However, others say that one need not be concerned since the verses are being recited in a manner of supplication. It is nevertheless correct to act in accordance with the former opinion.” This means that clearly, one may not study Torah before having recited the blessings of the Torah. The question is whether or not reciting verses in a manner of supplication constitutes Torah study. Thus, according to the first opinion, one should first recite the blessings of the Torah and only then begin to pray. On the other hand, the second opinion quoted in Shulchan Aruch maintains that reciting verses in a manner of supplication is not tantamount to Torah study and one need not recite the blessings of the Torah before saying such verses.

Maran Ha’Shulchan Aruch writes that it is appropriate to follow the first opinion, i.e. to recite the blessings of the Torah and only after to recite additional verses. Nevertheless, the Rama, whose rulings are followed by Ashkenazi Jewry, writes: “However, the custom in Germany follows the latter opinion, for during the days of Selichot, the custom is to recite Selichot first and only later recite the blessings of the Torah.”

Nonetheless, the prevalent Sephardic custom follows Maran Ha’Bet Yosef who quotes the Orchot Chaim who writes that it is customary to recite the blessings of the Torah first even during the days when Selichot is recited. However, regarding Ashkenazi Jews, Maharshal writes that in Germany the custom was to rely on the opinion of Maharil who ruled that one need not recite the blessings of the Torah before reciting verses from the Torah in a manner of prayer and supplication.

Maran Rabbeinu Ovadia Yosef zt”l writes (in his Chazon Ovadia- Yamim Nora’im, page 5 and Yabia Omer Volume 9, Chapter 108) that although it seems Maran’s ruling in Shulchan Aruch to recite the blessings of the Torah before reciting verses is merely a “correct” thing to do but according to the letter of the law, Maran did not rule explicitly that one must recite the blessings of the Torah first, nevertheless, since a responsa of the Rambam (Pe’er Ha’Dor, Chapter 104) where he writes that the blessings of the Torah must be recited first was discovered after the passing of Maran, the blessings of the Torah should certainly be recited before Selichot, especially when reciting “Ashrei” at the beginning of the Selichot.

Summary: One should recite the blessings of the Torah before reciting Selichot. There is no distinction between men and women regarding this law.

8 Halachot Most Popular

Question: How many “Kezayit”s (olive’s volume) of Matzah must one consume during the Pesach Seder?

Answer: One is obligated to eat altogether three “Kezayit”s of Matzah during the Pesach Seder. Every Kezayit amounts to approx. 30 grams of Matzah. Nevertheless, there is room for stringency to eat four or even five “Kezayit”s of Matzah, as we shall now explain. The Order......

Read Halacha

The Pesach Seder-“Maror”, “Shulchan Orech”, and “Tzafun”

Maror Everyone is obligated to eat a Kezayit (olive’s volume, approx. 27 grams) of Maror on the night of Pesach. There are several kinds of vegetables that one may use for Maror, however, the predominant custom today, especially among Sephardic Jewry, is to use the leaves and stalks (spines) ......

Read Halacha


The order of the night of Pesach printed in Haggadot is as follows: Kadesh, Urchatz, Karpas, Yachatz, Magid, Rochtza, Motzi, Matzah, Maror, Korech, Shulchan Orech, Tzafun, Barech, Hallel, Nirtzah. Magid Upon reaching the point of the Seder entitled “Magid,” the entire household shoul......

Read Halacha

Hallel on the Night of Pesach-The Laws Regarding Men and Women

The Tosefta (Chapter 3 of Sukkah) states: “There are eighteen days and one night throughout the year when the (complete) Hallel is recited, as follows: The eight days of the Sukkot holiday, the eight days of Chanukah, the first day of Pesach as well as the first night of Pesach, and on the hol......

Read Halacha

The Laws of Koshering Vessels for Pesach

One may not use Chametz vessels on Pesach since vessels which have been used to cook in or have had hot Chametz placed in them have Chametz flavor absorbed in them. Thus, just as we separate between meat and dairy utensils all year long, we must likewise separate between the utensils we use all year......

Read Halacha

Arriving Late to or Skipping Some Portions of the Megillah Reading

Every member of the Jewish nation is obligated to read the Megillah on the day of Purim. One must read it during the night and once again the next day, as the verse states, “My G-d, I call out to you during the day and you do not answer; during the night I have no rest.” This verse is wr......

Read Halacha

Some Detailed Laws Regarding Kitniyot (Legumes) on Pesach

In the previous Halacha we have briefly discussed the primary laws of Chametz and Kitniyot (legumes) on Pesach. We have explained that according to all communities, legumes such as rice and chick peas are not actual Chametz, for only grain products can be considered Chametz. However, Ashkenazim cust......

Read Halacha

Koshering Sinks and Kitchen Countertops

We have previously discussed that just as one should designate vessels for milk and meat respectively, likewise, regarding the holiday of Pesach, one should not use one’s regular Chametz vessels that were used all year round; rather, one should designate special kosher for Pesach vessels. N......

Read Halacha