Practical Halacha

The importance of learning practical Halacha:

Ruling of Shulchan Aruch:[1] In the laws of Talmud Torah the following ruling is given: The learning of practical Halacha takes precedence over other fields of Torah study. Only after one is clearly well versed in practical Halacha and knows the detailed laws relevant to his daily life, is he to study other parts of Torah in depth. One is to learn majority of Orach Chaim and selected sections of Yoreh Deah, Even Haezer and Choshen Mishpat.

The opinion of the Chassidic Rabbeim: The Baal Shem Tov and Maggid state that the evil inclination tries to persuade a Jew not to learn practical Halacha and rather tells him to spend all of his days learning the Talmud and its commentaries. This is done in order so the person does not serve G-d properly according to His will.[2] The Alter Rebbe distanced people from learning Torah simply for the sake of Pilpul and emphasized the necessity of learning in depth for the sake of practical Halacha.[3] The Mittler Rebbe decreed that every community is to set a study session to learn the entire Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch on the section of Orach Chaim.[4] The Rebbe Rashab writes that every Chassid is obligated to learn the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim from beginning to end and that every person is to establish a daily learning session to learn and review these Halachos.[5] In today’s generations one must especially have Mesirus Nefesh not to swerve from even one letter of Shulchan Aruch.[6] The Rebbe Rayatz reiterates this by saying that every Jew must establish a daily Torah session in Halacha, each person on his level; Shulchan Aruch or Kitzur Shulchan Aruch.[7]


The directives of the Rebbe:[8]

Learning Halacha as part of the Yeshiva schedule: The Rebbe stated that one is to make a revolution regarding the Yeshivas teaching Orach Chaim, and if the Yeshivas don’t desire this to be done during the regular study hours, it should at least be encouraged when the students are on break.[9] The Yeshivas are not to begin the accustomed deep analytical studies in Talmud until the students have been taught the fundamental principles of Jewish belief and the laws which are written in Shulchan Aruch. If the situation continues the way it is, then in a number of years from now there will not be a Rabbi which will know a simple law regarding a Jew’s daily life, such as a law in the laws of Muktzah. Yes, he will know maybe a law in Nezikin or Choshen Mishpat from the Talmud which he learned, but he will be ignorant of the simplest laws brought down in Shulchan Aruch.[10] This applies even to the Yeshivos Gedolos, as we see that the knowledge of the Yeshiva students is very minute amongst the laws found in Orach Chaim.[11] If I had the power I would establish that every Mosad, beginning from the kindergartens and through the Yeshivos and Kolalim, establish a Shiur in these practical laws.[12]

The importance of being an expert on the laws in Orach Chaim: Elsewhere the Rebbe stated: Unfortunately we see amongst many students that the more they expand their knowledge in Talmud and its commentaries the less they know the laws relevant to their practical life. These laws in Orach Chaim are extremely necessary for one to be constantly well versed in them, as the questions that arise in these subjects in many instances do not give one the time to ask a Rabbi or look in a Sefer for the answer.[13] This especially applies to the laws of Birchas Hanehnin; Hefsek in Tefilah; Muktzah and laws of the like of which the ignorance in these topics is appalling.[14]

Establishing Shiurim in practical Halacha in all communities: If I had the power I would establish that every community has a Shiur in these practical laws.[15] These Shiurim should take place in the local Shul.[16] Thus each community and even each individual is to include within his Torah Shiurim a set time for learning and reviewing practical Halacha.[17] One is to have a Shiur in these Halachas every single day, even for a few minutes.[18] For this purpose it is not necessary to learn specifically from the Shulchan Aruch [which can take much time] but rather to learn from compilations of Halachas such as those found in Derech Hachaim, Kitzur Shulchan Aruch and other compilations.[19] The Rav giving the Shiur is to then give over any extra information that the listeners are to know, that is not included in the compiled Halachas.[20]



Every Jew is to have a set learning session every day in practical Halacha, even for a few minutes a day. One is to use this time to learn practical laws from available Halacha compilations, and not necessarily from the actual Shulchan Aruch.


[1] Hilchos Talmud Torah 2/9-10; Shach Yoreh Deah 246; Hakdama of Mishneh Berurah; Toras Menachem 13 p. 236

[2] Tzivas Harivash 117; Or Torah of the Maggid 221

[3] Beis Rebbe p. 32

[4] Hakdama of Mittler Rebbe in Shulchan Aruch Harav

[5] Kuntrus Hatefilah 17

[6] Sefer Hamamarim “Ein Hakadosh Baruch Hu Ba Betrunya” 1888

[7] Sefer Hamamarim 1926 p. 263

[8] See Shulchan Menachem 4 p. 238-244 for a compilations of letters and Sichos on this topic.

[9] Sichas Tzav 13th Nissan found in Toras Menachem 13 p. 236

[10] Sichas Yud Shvat 1955

[11] Igros Kodesh 16 p. 116

[12] Igros Kodesh 10 p. 270

[13] Igros Kodesh 10 p. 130

[14] Igros Kodesh 10 p. p. 130; p. 192; p. 270; p. 355

[15] Igros Kodesh 10 p. 143

[16] Igros Kodesh ibid based on the saying of Chazal [Brachos 8a] “Hashem loves the gates of Jewish law more than the Shul’s Batei Midrash.”

[17] Igros Kodesh 7 p. 238

[18] Toras Menachem 7 p. 114; Learning the Halachas every single day will help one remember also the Halachas he learned the day before. [ibid]

[19] Igros Kodesh 7 p. 238; Igros Kodesh 10 p. 144; Igros Kodesh 11 p. 281; Igros Kodesh 13 p. 24; Toras Menachem 7 p. 114; “This does not refer to Tur and Beis Yosef, but rather to Shulchan Aruch and Beir Heiytiv. However one who has time for more is praised.” [ibid]

[20] Igros Kodesh 13 p. 24

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