By Rabbi Berach Steinfeld
Chazal teach us that the mitzvah of Birchas HaTorah is a biblical commandment and not a rabbinical commandment. Tosfos in Brachos, daf yud alef asks why is the mitzvah of Birchas HaTorah different from the bracha that is made on the succah? We end up making a bracha at every single meal on succos, whereas we only say Birchas HaTorah once a day. Tosfos explains that Torah is different from succah since we are michuyav to learn day and night; therefore one is never meyaesh from learning. On the other hand, one only has to do the mitzvah of succah when one eats or sleeps, so there are times when one does not have mitzvas succah in mind; therefore a new Bracha is required at every meal.
The Shulchan Aruch in Orach Chaim, siman mem zayin, seif yud daled says that women are also required to make a bracha on Birchas HaTorah as they also have a mitzvah to learn about the mitzvos that apply to them.
According to the above Tosfos, the reason we only make one bracha a day is because we are never meyaesh since we are required to learn day and night. Women do not have the requirement of learning day and night so they should be required to make a new bracha every time they sit and learn.
Reb Elchanan Wasserman asked his Rebbe, Reb Chaim Brisker the following question. Why is it a problem if one does not make a bracha for Birchas HaTorah? We find that the Tosfos Ho’Rosh says regarding hafrashas Teruma, if the bracha is min Hatorah the hafrasha would be ineffective. If we use this concept over here, why can one not learn before birkas HaTorah and it won’t be considered learning, as the bracha would be meakev?
Reb Chaim Brisker answered Reb Elchanan with a yesod that Birchas HaTorah is not only considered a Birchas Hamitzva. He is bringing a novel approach of thought that learning Torah requires one to say a Birchas haShevach before learning. Therefore, the fact that one learns before Birchas HaTorah would not be the same as hafrashas Teruma. Hafrashas Teruma is strictly a Birchas HaMitzvah, whereas Birchas HaTorah consists of both a Birchas HaMitzva and a Birchas Hashevach.
Women who don’t have the mitzvah of learning day and night do not have the obligation of saying the bracha as a Birchas haMitzva. It therefore suffices for women to say one bracha per day. Even if there is a hefsek, one bracha a day would be sufficient.
A man who has two reasons to make the bracha would be required to make a new bracha every time he does the mitzvah of limud HaTorah if not for the fact that one is not meyaesh from learning the entire day. The bracha would not be completely a Birchas HaMitzvah because it would also have the quality of a Birchas Hashevach; hence learning without a bracha would still be considered learning (not like hafrashas Teruma) and would require the shevach aspect of the bracha to be said before learning.