The Pracitical Mishneh-Miseches Brachos-Chapter 1: Detailed laws of Shema 1

Chapter 1: Detailed laws of Shema 1

1.       Mishneh 1: The time of the night Shema:[1]

  • The beginning time: The night Shema is read from the time that the Kohanim begin eating their Teruma [which is from nightfall/Tzeis Hakochavim[2]].
  • Until what time: Dispute: Rebbe Eliezer: Until the end of the first Ashmura [i.e. up until 1/3rd into the night[3]]; Chachamim: Until midnight; Rabban Gamliel: Until Alos Hashachar, but initially read before midnight [and so is the Halacha, like Rabban Gamliel[4]].
  • General rule of night Mitzvos: All night Mitzvos that were given a time to be fulfilled until midnight, in truth may be fulfilled until Alos, and it is only initially that one was given until Chatzos. This includes: 1) The offering of the limbs on the altar; 2) The eating of Karbanos. 3) The recital of the night Shema.

2.       Mishneh 2: The time of the day Shema:

  • The beginning time: Dispute: Tana Kama: The day Shema is read from the time that there is enough light that one can tell the difference between the Ticheiles and white strings of the Tzitzis. Rebbe Eliezer: From the time that there is enough light that one can tell the difference between the Ticheiles and Karti [i.e. a different shade of blue] strings. [Practically, we rule that Biblically, it may be recited from Alos Hashachar[5], however Rabbinically, it may only be recited later on, from the time that there is enough light to recognize an acquaintance from a distance of four Amos.[6]]
  • Until what time: Dispute: Rebbe Eliezer: Until sunrise; Rebbe Yehoshua: Until three hours [into the day[7]] as that’s when princes rise from bed. [Practically, we rule that it may be recited up until three Zmaniyos hours from sunrise[8], which is known today as Zman Gr”a/Baal Hatanya. However, initially, it should be recited prior to sunrise.[9] Even after sunrise, it should initially be recited 45 minutes prior to its end time.[10] Many are particular to always recite it within three hours from Alos Hashachar, which is known as the Zman of Magen Avraham.]
  • Reading Shema past the time: Once the time of Shema has passed, [the Mitzvah has been forfeited[11] and] it is as if one is simply reading from the Torah.

3.       Mishneh 3: The position of the body while reading Shema:[12]

  • Dispute: Beis Shamaiy: The night Shema is to be read lying on one’s side. The day Shema is to be read standing. Beis Hillel: Both the day and night Shema may be recited in any position.
  • Who to follow: Rebbe Tarfon once descended from his camel at night while traveling and read the Shema in a lying position as requires Beis Shamaiy, making himself vulnerable to murderers. The Sages said to him that he had forfeited his own life by doping so as he transgressed the words of Beis Hillel.

Practical Halacha

Practically, we rule that both the day and morning Shema may be read in any position of walking, standing, or sitting[13], and it is forbidden for one to be stringent upon himself to do like Beis Shamaiy and specifically stand by day if he is sitting [and lye by night].[14] One who does so is liable for death.[15]  One who is walking must either stand still or sit while reciting the first Pasuk of Shema [and Baruch Sheim].[16] One may read the Shema while lying completely on one’s side[17], however one may not read it while lying on one’s back or front even if he is partially turned onto his side, unless he is sick, or is very obese, and it is difficult to turn completely onto his side.[18]]


4.       Mishneh 4: Birchas Kerias Shema-The blessings of Shema:

  • Morning Shema: In the morning we recite two blessings before the Shema and one blessing after the Shema.
  • Evening Shema: In the evening we recite two blessings before the Shema and two blessings after the Shema.
  • Changing the text: The length of the blessings as coined by the Sages may not be changed. Thus, a long blessing may not be shortened, and a short blessing may not be made long. A blessing which [starts and] concludes with a blessing may not have the concluding blessing omitted, and a blessing which does not conclude with a blessing may not have a concluding blessing added [i.e. blessings on foods].

5.       Mishneh 5: Mentioning Yetzias Mitzrayim/Reading the Parsha of Vayomer:[19]

  • One is to mention Yetzias Mitzrayim by both day and night. [Biblically, one could read anything that mentions the Exodus, whether a verse or teaching, and so was the original custom.[20] Practically, the Sages instituted to recite the Parsha of Vayomer as part of the night and day Shema to fulfill this obligation.[21]]
  • Reading in time of redemption: Dispute: Ben Zoma does not learn that one needs to mention the Exodus in the future. The Sages, however, learn that one needs to mention the Exodus even after the future redemption.


[1] Brachos 2a

[2] Brachos 2a

[3] Brachos ??

[4] Michaber 235:3

[5] Admur 58:2; Michaber 58:3; Brachos 8b

[6] Admur 58:2; Michaber 58:1; Abayey in Brachos 9b; See Siddur Admur that the time of Mi Sheyakir between Ticheiles and Lavan is the same time in which there is enough light that one can recognize an acquaintance which is not often seen, from a distance of four Amos, and thus we rule like the Tana Kama. [Chidushei Tzemach Tzedek on Brachos 1:2; M”B ibid] However see P”M 30 M”Z 1 that holds in truth it is considered two different times, and that this time is later than the time of recognizing the difference between the white and Techeiles.

[7] Admur 58:3; Siddur Admur and all Poskim in coming footnotes who hold of Alos or Neitz

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule the three hours are calculated from six hours past the Halachic midnight and not from morning. [See Pnei Yehoshua Likkutim on Brachos; Yaavetz in Mur Uketzia 1 and Lechem Shamayim Brachos 1:2; Shulchan Hatahor 58:1 and in Maaseh Oreg Brachos 1:2, and Otzer Hachaim Vaeschanan Mitzvah 421; See Minchas Elazar 1:69; Mishmeres Shalom Kudinov 9:1; Piskeiy Teshuvos 58:2]

[8] Siddur Admur in the section beginning “Zman Kerias Shema” who counts the three hours from sunrise [unlike his ruling in 58:3 and 89:1; See Shiureiy Tziyon p. 75 footnote 16 and Glosses on Siddur of Rav Raskin 30 footnote 123]; Admur 443:4 and 459:10 regarding the calculation of daytime that it is from sunrise to sunset; Shiltei Giborim on Mordechai Brachos 4:3; Minchas Kohen Mavo Hashemesh 2:6 in name of Rishonim; Levush 233:1 and 266:2; Tosafus Yom Tov Pesachim 3:2; Divrei Chamudos Brachos 4:14; Kneses Hagedola 58:8; Gr”a 459:5; Tzemach Tzedek Chidushim 3 that so is opinion of Admur in Siddur; Aruch Hashulchan 58:14; Igros Kodesh 10:294; Likkutei Sichos 29:378; Igros Moshe 1:24 “The Gr”a and Graz, are the main opinion regarding all matters.”; Chazon Ish 13:4; Orchos Rabbeinu 1:52 in name of Chazon Ish; Teshuvos Vehanhagos 1:56 in name of Brisker Rav; See Pear Hador of Machon Yerushalayim Teshuvah 44 who proves this to be the opinion of the Rambam; M”B 58:4 brings both opinions of M”A and Gr”a without arbitration; See Piskeiy Teshuvos ibid footnote 22

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that the day begins from Alos Hashachar/Daybreak [and hence the morning Shema must be recited within three hours from daybreak]. [Admur 58:3 [unlike his ruling in the Siddur and 443:4; 459:10]; 89:1 regarding Davening; M”A 58:1 that regarding Shema, so applies according to all [See Machatzis Hashekel ibid; Degul Merivava 58; Levushei Serud ibid; Yad Efraim ibid]; Terumas Hadeshen 1; Yad Aaron 58; Elya Raba 58:2; Shalmei Tzibur p. 93; Chaim Sheol 2:38-Ayin; Chesed Lealafim 58:5; Ben Ish Chaiy Vayakhel 4 that so is main opinion; Kitzur SHU”A 17:1; Shesilei Zeisim 58:2; Kaf Hachaim 58:4; Tzemach Tzedek Chidushim 3 brings a proof for this opinion, unlike Admur in Siddur, however, see Igros Kodesh 10:294 that this may not be his actual opinion; M”B 58:4 brings both opinions of M”A and Gr”a without arbitration]

[9] 2nd opinion in Admur 58:4 and in conclusion that so is proper to be done; Ramban in Milchamos; Rabbeinu Yona 9b; See Rashi ibid and 26a; Megillah 23a; Rambam Shema 1:11; Peri Chaadash; See Birkeiy Yosef 58:2; Vetzrauch Iyun why Admur does not mention the Rambam as one of the sources of this opinion

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule one is only required to read the Shema before sunrise if he plans to Daven Shemoneh Esrei with sunrise [Vaasikin]. If, however, he is unable to say Shemoneh Esrei exactly by sunrise then he is not read the Shema and Daven before sunrise and is rather to read it after sunrise upon Davening. [1st opinion in Admur ibid; Michaber ibid who rules the Davening of Vasikin is only a Mitzvah Min Hamuvchar; Majority of Rishonim in Brachos 9b; Rashba; Tosafus Yuma 37b; Rosh; See Rashi ibid and 26a; Megillah 23a]

[10] Siddur Admur “Therefore one must be careful to finish reading the Shema by 7:00 a.m. during the summer months [in Russia, in which the end time is at 7:45].”; Directive of Rebbe Rashab to Rav Yaakov Landau even regarding Rabbinical maters, printed in Kovetz Yagdil Torah N.Y. Vol. 52 p. 150

The reason: As the clocks are not all accurate, and this matter [of saying Shema on time] is a Biblical doubt [of which one is required to be stringent]. Likewise, it is improper to push oneself to the last minute. [Admur ibid in Siddur]

[11] Implication of Admur 58:2-3; Admur in Siddur writes it’s a Biblical doubt; M”A 58:7 and Taz 58:4 in negation of the opinion of Kesef Mishneh; Rav SZ”A in Halichos Shlomo 11 that so is ruling of all Gedolei Hachronim; See Mishmeres Shalom Kudinov 9; Hisorerus Teshuvah 1:33; Lehoros Nasan 3:4; Piskeiy Teshuvos 58:1

Other opinions: Some Poskim learn that just as Biblically the night Shema may be recited throughout the entire night, so too the day Shema may Biblically be recited throughout the entire daytime, and it is only Rabbinical that it must be recited within the first three hours. [Kesef Mishneh Shema 1, brought in M”A ibid] The Taz and M”A ibid negate this approach of the Kesef Mishneh and explain that the word Beshachbecha implies lying in bed, and hence the entire night is valid for the nighttime Shema, however, the term Ubikumecha implies the act of waking out of bed, which certainly has a time limit. In the words of the Taz ibid “I wonder at how a holy mouth can say such a thing, as certainly the Drasha of Chazal on Ubikumecha is a complete Biblical Drasha just like Ubishachbecha.”

[12] Brachos 10b

[13] Admur 63:1; Michaber 63:1; Tur 63:1; Rambam Shema 2:2

[14] Admur 63:2; Michaber 63:2; Siddur Rav Amram Gaon

[15] Admur ibid

[16] Admur 63:4; Michaber 63:3; Rambam 2:3; Rif Brachos 13; Ketzos Hashulchan 19:14

[17] 1st opinion in Admur ibid and so is his conclusion; Michaber ibid; Rambam ibid; Brachos 13b

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that one may never read the Shema lying on one’s side unless he is naked under his covers, in which case the Sages did not require him to stand up and get dressed. Otherwise, however, he would be obligated to do so. [2nd opinion in Admur ibid; Rama 63:1; Rabbeinu Yona on Brachos ibid] Practically, we rule like the former opinion. [Admur ibid; M”A 63:1; Lechem Chamudos Brachos 2:1]

[18] Admur ibid; Michaber ibid; Rambam ibid; Brachos ibid

[19] Mishneh Brachos 12b; Rambam Shema 1:3; Admur 67:1; 70:1 and 4

[20] Admur 67:1; 106:4

[21] Admur 58:1; Brachos 12b

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