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 Hilchos Tefilla 106 (page 267)
 מסימן קו סעיף ב עד תחילת סימן קז

The Exemption of Someone Who is Occupied with Torah
Studying Torah Before Davening
Is Someone Who Teaches Torah in Public Mandated to Recite Shema and Shemoneh Esrei?

The exemption of someone who is occupied with Torah
A person who is primarily occupied with Torah study (i.e. he does not interrupt his study for any reason) must pause his studies to perform all mitzvos incumbent upon him, both d'oraisa and d'rabonon. Regarding tefilla, however, he must break only for kriyas Shema (with the berachos) which is a mitzva d'oraisa, but not for Shemoneh Esrei which is d'rabonon. (According to the Rambam, who holds that tefilla once a day is also d'oraisa, he must break once a day for tefilla too.) Since the mitzva of tefilla is merely a way of requesting Hashem's compassion, it is considered less significant than the mitzva of uninterrupted Torah study and therefore does not supersede it. There were sages among the Amoraim who said of themselves that they did not qualify as 'one who is occupied with Torah.' Certainly today there is nobody who studies consistently enough to earn this appellation.
( סעיף ב וס"ק ו-ז; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 24-25)
When is it permissible to study Torah before davening
Generally, an individual who is studying Torah does not need to interrupt his learning in order to daven if he will have time to attend to it later. Someone who plans to daven alone at home should not start learning during the zman of Shema and tefilla, but if he started he may continue. (According to some poskim he should stop and daven right away, but the halacha follows the former opinion.) Someone learning in shul [or in his home, if a minyan will gather there] does not need to pause until nearly the end of zman kriyas Shema/ tefilla. Someone who began learning at home after the time for davening may continue learning if he will not be able to resume his studies after an interruption, but he should pause to recite Shema (even if he has not yet donned tefillin).
( ס"ק ח ו־י וביה"ל ס"ב ד"ה מי)
Is someone who teaches Torah in public mandated to recite Shema and Shemoneh Esrei?
Someone who teaches Torah to the public does not need to stop until close to the end of zman kriyas Shema/ tefilla. If, as a result of his stopping, the group will disperse and will cease learning for the day, the leader should recite only the first pasuk of Shema and include a halacha or verse that mentions yetzias Mitzrayim in the lecture. He should try to complete Shema after the shiur in order to accept the yoke of Heaven. A second opinion holds that the teacher must interrupt his studies for Shema. A third opinion holds that he is only excused from breaking for Shema if he started teaching before the time for Shema. A final opinion holds that the Torah of someone who studies rather than davens is meaningless.
( סעיף ב, ס"ק ח-י, וביה"ל ד"ה ואם; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 28)

  •  According to the Rambam, the obligation to davenmid'oraisa mandates a person to recite one tefilla of praise, request and thanks once a day. According to the Ramban and many other poskim, there is no Biblical obligation to daven but someone who does daven fulfills a mitzva.
  • A lady who must care for her children and cannot daven properly should recite at least one short tefilla to fulfill the Torah obligation to daven. There are several opinions as to which prayers are most important for her to include.
  • Someone who hears kaddish, kedusha or barechu while davening Shemoneh Esrei should not respond. Instead, he should fulfill his obligation by stopping and listening to the chazan.


  • 'Adding' to Shemoneh Esrei

  • Someone who realized during Shemoneh Esrei that he already davened

  • Someone who is unsure whether he davened Ma'ariv



PLEASE NOTE:  The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.