by: Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
There is a Mishna in Brachos daf chof ches amud bais that quotes that Reb Nechunya ben Hakana would daven as he entered and exited the Bais Hamedrash a short tefillah. The Rabbanim asked him “Ma Makom litfillah zu”(What is the reason for this tefillah?) Reb Nechunya responded that when he enters he davens that no bad should result from his learning and when he exits the Bais Hamedrash hr thanks Hashem for the opportunity to learn in Bais Hamedrash. The Gemara gives the exact text of this tefillah. If one looks at a lot of Gemaros it is printed in the front.
The Ritva explains how this fits in with the rest of the perek of tefilas hashachar that since the Gemara is discussing different parts of tefillah the Gemara mentions this one also. It is not an obligation to say this tefillah but more of an optional thing.
The Rambam in peirush haMishnayos perek daled mishna bais argues on the ritva and says that these aforementioned tefillos is an obligation. When anyone enters the Bais Hamidrash to learn or leaves must say these tefillos. The Chida brings a raya to shitas Rambam from the fact that the mishna said it in a story form and not just saying what Reb Nechunya davened and the fact that no one argued against Reb Nechunya they were all quiet proves that it is an obligation to say these tefilos when one enters and exits the Bais Hamidrash.
We could argue and say that the fact the Mishna does not bring it cut and dry but rather says it in the form of a story proves the opposite that it is just optional not an obligation.
Thev Rambam, Tur and the Mechaber in Orach Chayim siman kuf yud bring down the text of these tefillos and say that one must say these tefillos like any other tefillos and it is an obligation. The Taz in seif koton ches says even if a person sits down to learn by himself must say these tefillos especially if he paskens Shailos. The Magen Avraham in seif koton tes zayinsays that the Ariz”l would say this tefillah every morning and every evening after learning Torah the entire day. The Mishna Berura in seif koton lamed vov brings some more sources that prove that it is an obligation to say these teffilos. The Rosh Yosef based on this wonders why the oilam is not nizhar in these teffilos? The Hachesed Loalafim in siman kuf yud seif vov also can’t understand why we don’t see more people being careful in saying these tefillos.
The Aruch Hashulchan in siman kuf yud seif tes zayin says that today the minhag is not to say these tefillos and he explains it that since most people learning today in Bais Medrash are not Moreh Horaah and the one’s that are Moreh Horaah learn at home not in Bais Medrash therefore we don’t say these tefillos. According to the aforementioned Taz this tirutz would not be sufficient because the Taz says one should say this tefillah even while learning alone and not in Bais Medrash.
In Shailos Utshuvos Salmas Chaim hilchos talmid Torah siman tzaddik Ches Reb Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld was asked the same question and he seems to say that it is an obligation. He is melamed zchus that since people were used to learning at home so they would not say the tefillah and they would not say the tefillah even upon entering Bais Hamedrash.
Learning can be difficult for some but if everyone would say these tefillos before and after learning I am sure it will result in an easier time in learning. May we be zocheh to really learn with a geshmak!
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