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A B C One Two Three - The Answer

One should make a bracha before teaching one's child the Aleph Beis. Why?

The Rema [Yoreh Deah 245/8] says that from the age of 3 a child should start learning the Aleph Beis. The Gra explains that his source is the Midrash which says that from the age of 3 a child should start doing mitzvos. From here we can derive that learning the Aleph Beis is a fulfillment of the mitzva of Talmud Torah and not merely a hechsher mitzva [a preparation for a mitzva].

In addition, every letter of the Hebrew alphabet contains many kabbalistic secrets so it is logical to say that studying the letters is a fulfillment of the mitzva of Talmud Torah.

Even if one insists that it is merely a hechsher mitzva, a bracha would still be called for based on the principle that if it is impossible to perform a mitzva without the hechsher mitzva one makes a bracha on the hechsher mitzva as well. In such a case the hechsher mitzva adopts the status of a bonafide mitzva.

[Based on Tshuvos V'hanhagos Vol. 4 Simman 17. See there as to why in extenuating circumstances one need not make a bracha.]

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About me

  • I'm Rabbi Ally Ehrman
  • From Old City Jerusalem, Israel
  • I am a Rebbe in Yeshivat Netiv Aryeh.
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