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Monday, 26 Tishrei 5778 / October 16, 2017

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Rambam - 3 Chapters a Day

Teshuvah - Chapter Ten, Kri'at Shema - Chapter One, Kri'at Shema - Chapter Two

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Teshuvah - Chapter Ten

1

A person should not say: "I will fulfill the mitzvot of the Torah and occupy myself in its wisdom in order to receive all the blessings which are contained within it or in order to merit the life of the world to come."

"[Similarly,] I will separate myself from all the sins which the Torah warned against so that I will be saved from all the curses contained in the Torah or so that [my soul] will not be cut off from the life of the world to come."

It is not fitting to serve God in this manner. A person whose service is motivated by these factors is considered one who serves out of fear. He is not on the level of the prophets or of the wise.

The only ones who serve, God in this manner are common people, women, and minors. They are trained to serve God out of fear until their knowledge increases and they serve out of love.

א

אל יאמר אדם הריני עושה מצות התורה ועוסק בחכמתה כדי שאקבל כל הברכות הכתובות בה או כדי שאזכה לחיי העולם הבא ואפרוש מן העבירות שהזהירה תורה מהן כדי שאנצל מן הקללות הכתובות בתורה או כדי שלא אכרת מחיי העולם הבא אין ראוי לעבוד את ה' על הדרך הזה שהעובד על דרך זה הוא עובד מיראה ואינה מעלת הנביאים ולא מעלת החכמים ואין עובדים ה' על דרך זה אלא עמי הארץ והנשים והקטנים שמחנכין אותן לעבוד מיראה עד שתרבה דעתן ויעבדו מאהבה:

2

One who serves [God] out of love occupies himself in the Torah and the mitzvot and walks in the paths of wisdom for no ulterior motive: not because of fear that evil will occur, nor in order to acquire benefit. Rather, he does what is true because it is true, and ultimately, good will come because of it.

This is a very high level which is not merited by every wise man. It is the level of our Patriarch, Abraham, whom God described as, "he who loved Me," for his service was only motivated by love.

God commanded us [to seek] this rung [of service] as conveyed by Moses as [Deuteronomy 6:5] states: "Love God, your Lord.'' When a man will love God in the proper manner, he will immediately perform all of the mitzvot motivated by love.

ב

העובד מאהבה עוסק בתורה ובמצות והולך בנתיבות החכמה לא מפני דבר בעולם ולא מפני יראת הרעה ולא כדי לירש הטובה אלא עושה האמת מפני שהוא אמת וסוף הטובה לבא בגללה ומעלה זו היא מעלה גדולה מאד ואין כל חכם זוכה לה והיא מעלת אברהם אבינו שקראו הקב"ה אוהבו לפי שלא עבד אלא מאהבה והיא המעלה שצונו בה הקדוש ברוך הוא על ידי משה שנאמר ואהבת את ה' אלהיך ובזמן שיאהוב אדם את ה' אהבה הראויה מיד יעשה כל המצות מאהבה:

3

What is the proper [degree] of love? That a person should love God with a very great and exceeding love until his soul is bound up in the love of God. Thus, he will always be obsessed with this love as if he is lovesick.

[A lovesick person's] thoughts are never diverted from the love of that woman. He is always obsessed with her; when he sits down, when he gets up, when he eats and drinks. With an even greater [love], the love for God should be [implanted] in the hearts of those who love Him and are obsessed with Him at all times as we are commanded [Deuteronomy 6:5: "Love God...] with all your heart and with all soul."

This concept was implied by Solomon [Song of Songs 2:5] when he stated, as a metaphor: "I am lovesick." [Indeed,] the totality of the Song of Songs is a parable describing [this love].

ג

וכיצד היא האהבה הראויה הוא שיאהב את ה' אהבה גדולה יתירה עזה מאוד עד שתהא נפשו קשורה באהבת ה' ונמצא שוגה בה תמיד כאלו חולה חולי האהבה שאין דעתו פנויה מאהבת אותה אשה והוא שוגה בה תמיד בין בשבתו בין בקומו בין בשעה שהוא אוכל ושותה יתר מזה תהיה אהבת ה' בלב אוהביו שוגים בה תמיד כמו שצונו בכל לבבך ובכל נפשך והוא ששלמה אמר דרך משל כי חולת אהבה אני וכל שיר השירים משל הוא לענין זה:

4

The Sages of the previous generations declared: Should one say: "I will study Torah in order that I become wealthy, in order that I be called a Rabbi, or in' order that I receive reward in the world to come?" The Torah teaches [Deuteronomy 11:13]: "[If you are careful to observe My commandments...] to love God; [implying] that all that you do should only be done out of love.

The Sages also said: [Psalms 112:1 instructs:] "Desire His commandments greatly." [Desire His commandments] and not the reward [which comes from] His commandments.

In a similar manner, the great Sages would command the more understanding and brilliant among their students in private: "‘Do not be like servants who serve their master [for the sake of receiving a reward].’ Rather, since He is the Master, it is fitting to serve Him;" i.e., serve [Him] out of love.

ד

אמרו חכמים הראשונים שמא תאמר הריני למד תורה בשביל שאהיה עשיר בשביל שאקרא רבי בשביל שאקבל שכר בעולם הבא תלמוד לומר לאהבה את ה' כל מה שאתם עושים לא תעשו אלא מאהבה ועוד אמרו חכמים במצותיו חפץ מאד ולא בשכר מצותיו וכן היו גדולי החכמים מצוים לנבוני תלמידיהם ומשכיליהם ביחוד אל תהיו כעבדים המשמשים את הרב וכו' אלא מפני שהוא הרב ראוי לשמשו כלומר עבדו מאהבה:

5

Anyone who occupies himself with the Torah in order to receive reward or in order to protect himself from retribution is considered as one who is not occupied for the God's sake.

[In contrast,] anyone who occupies himself with it, not because of fear, nor to receive a reward, but rather because of his love for the Lord of the entire earth who commanded it, is one who occupies himself for God's sake.

Nevertheless, our Sages declared: A person should always occupy himself with the Torah even when it is not for God's sake for out of [service which is not intended] for God's sake will come service that is intended for God's sake.

Therefore, when one teaches children, women, and most of the common people, one should teach them to serve out of fear and in order to receive a reward. As their knowledge grows and their wisdom increases, this secret should be revealed to them [slowly,] bit by bit. They should become accustomed to this concept gradually until they grasp it and know it and begin serving [God] out of love.

ה

כל העוסק בתורה כדי לקבל שכר או כדי שלא תגיע עליו פורענות הרי זה עוסק שלא לשמה וכל העוסק בה לא ליראה ולא לקבל שכר אלא מפני אהבת אדון כל הארץ שצוה בה הרי זה עוסק בה לשמה ואמרו חכמים לעולם יעסוק אדם בתורה ואפילו שלא לשמה שמתוך שלא לשמה בא לשמה לפיכך כשמלמדין את הקטנים ואת הנשים וכלל עמי הארץ אין מלמדין אותן אלא לעבוד מיראה וכדי לקבל שכר עד שתרבה דעתן ויתחכמו חכמה יתירה מגלים להם רז זה מעט מעט ומרגילין אותן לענין זה בנחת עד שישיגוהו וידעוהו ויעבדוהו מאהבה:

6

It is a well-known and clear matter that the love of God will not become attached within a person's heart until he becomes obsessed with it at all times as is fitting, leaving all things in the world except for this. This was implied by the command [Deuteronomy 6:5: "Love God, your Lord,] with all your heart and all your soul.

One can only love God [as an outgrowth] of the knowledge with which he knows Him. The nature of one's love depends on the nature of one's knowledge! A small [amount of knowledge arouses] a lesser love. A greater amount of knowledge arouses a greater love.

Therefore, it is necessary for a person to seclude himself in order to understand and conceive wisdom and concepts which make his creator known to him according to the potential which man possesses to understand and comprehend as we explained in Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah.

ו

דבר ידוע וברור שאין אהבת הקב"ה נקשרת בלבו של אדם עד שישגה בה תמיד כראוי ויעזוב כל מה שבעולם חוץ ממנה כמו שצוה ואמר בכל לבבך ובכל נפשך אינו אוהב הקדוש ברוך הוא אלא בדעת שידעהו ועל פי הדעה תהיה האהבה אם מעט מעט ואם הרבה הרבה לפיכך צריך האדם ליחד עצמו להבין ולהשכיל בחכמות ותבונות המודיעים לו את קונו כפי כח שיש באדם להבין ולהשיג כמו שבארנו בהלכות יסודי התורה:

Blessed be God who grants assistance. This concludes the first book, the Book of Knowledge, with the help of the Almighty. The amount of chapters in this book are 46:

Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah - 10 chapters.

Hilchot De'ot - 7 chapters.

Hilchot Talmud Torah - 7 chapters.

Hilchot Avodat Kochavim - 12 chapters.

Hilchot Teshuvah - 10 chapters.

נגמר ספר ראשון והוא ספר המדע:

Kri'at Shema - Chapter One

"Oh, how I love Your Torah. It is what I discuss the entire day." (Psalms 119:97)

Introduction to Hilchos Kri'as Shema

This section contains one positive Torah commandment: to recite the Shema twice daily.
The elucidation of this commandment appears in the following chapters.

הלכות קריאת שמע - הקדמה

הלכות קריאת שמע מצות עשה אחת והיא לקרות קריאת שמע פעמים ביום: וביאור מצוה זו בפרקים אלו:

1

We [are obligated to] recite the Shema twice daily - in the evening and in the morning - as [Deuteronomy 6:7] states: "...when you lie down and when you rise" - i.e., when people are accustomed to sleep - this being the night - and when people are accustomed to rise, this being daytime.

א

פעמים בכל יום קוראין ק"ש בערב ובבקר שנאמר ובשכבך ובקומך בשעה שדרך בני אדם שוכבין וזה הוא לילה ובשעה שדרך בני אדם עומדין וזה הוא יום:

We [are obligated to] recite the Shema twice daily, in the evening and in the morning - as [Deuteronomy 6:7] states: "...when you lie down and when you rise" - In Sefer HaMitzvot (Positive Commandment 10), the Rambam mentions the beginning of this verse, ודברת בם... (And you shall speak of them...) as the source for the mitzvah of Kri'at Shema.

Nevertheless, his statements in this halachah do not necessarily represent a change of mind. Here, the Rambam is not interested in the actual source for the mitzvah itself (which is the case in Sefer HaMitzvot), but in stating our obligation to recite the Shema twice daily, once at night and once in the daytime. This is derived from the end of the verse, as mentioned by the Rambam.

in the evening and in the morning - The obligation to recite the Shema at night is mentioned first both in the Mishnah,Berachot 1:1 and here in the Mishneh Torah, following the pattern mentioned in the verse quoted above: "...when you lie down and when you rise."

Berachot 3a understands this order as parallel to the creation of the world itself which began: ויהי ערב ויהי בקר (And then there was night and there was day..., Genesis 1:5). (See also the Rambam's commentary on the Mishnah, Berachot 1:1.)

i.e., when people are accustomed to sleep - this being the night - and when people are accustomed to rise - this being daytime. - The Mishnah (Berachot 10b) records a disagreement between the school of Shammai and the school of Hillel regarding the laws derived from the verse: "... and when you lie down and when you rise."

Both agree that the Shema is recited twice daily, once at night and once in the morning. However, based on the above verse, Beit Shammai obligates one to recline while reciting Kri'at Shema at night, and to stand while reciting it in the morning. Beit Hillel holds that the verse simply establishes the general times at which the Shema is recited, as stated by the Rambam in this halachah; i.e., at the time that people sleep and at the time that they are accustomed to wake up.

2

And what is it that one recites? These three sections:

"Hear O Israel..." (Deuteronomy 6:4-9),
"And if you will listen..." (Deuteronomy 11:13-21),and
"And God said..." (Numbers 15:37-41).

We begin with the section of "Hear O Israel" since it contains [the concept of] the unity of God, [the commandment of] loving Him and the study of Torah, it being a fundamental principle upon which everything is based.

After it, [we read] "And if you will listen...," since it contains the imperative to fulfill the rest of the commandments, and finally the portion of tzitzit, since it also contains the imperative of remembering all the commandments.

ב

ומה הוא קורא שלשה פרשיות אלו הן:

שמע והיה אם שמוע ויאמר ומקדימין לקרות פרשת שמע מפני שיש בה יחוד השם ואהבתו ותלמודו שהוא העיקר הגדול שהכל תלוי בו ואחריה והיה אם שמוע שיש בה צווי על (זכירת) שאר כל המצות ואחר כך פרשת ציצית שגם היא יש בה צווי זכירת כל המצות:

And what is it that one recites? - There are various opinions as to what constitutes the positive commandment of Kri'at Shema. Sefer HaChinuch (Commandment 419) states clearly that the Torah obligates us to read only the first verse of the Shema - i.e., Shema Yisrael. The reading of the rest of the three sections was instituted by the Sages.

Rabbenu Yonah understands that the whole first section constitutes the Torah obligation. (See Beit Yosef, Orach Chayim 63 at the end.) There is also an opinion that the obligation to recite the first two sections originates in the Torah. (See Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Orach Chayim 58.) However, in practice, everyone ultimately agrees that one must recite all three sections mentioned by the Rambam in this halachah (Berachot 13a).

These three sections: "Hear O Israel..." (Deuteronomy 6:4-9), "And if you will listen..." (Deuteronomy 11:13-21) and "And God said..." (Numbers 15:37-41). - For, as explained, each of these paragraphs contains fundamental concepts central to the Jewish faith.

Note Sefer HaChinuch (Commandment 420) who quotes the Rambam, not to explain the order of Kri'at Shema, but rather to clarify why the Sages included these three sections in the Shema.

we begin with the section of "Hear O Israel..." - Berachot 13a, 14b, offers two different explanations regarding the order of Kri'at Shema. The Rambam, however, does not quote either explicitly, but rather seems to suggest his own reason.

The Kessef Mishneh holds that the Rambam's explanation of the order of the first two sections, "Hear O Israel" and "And if you will listen," is in fact consistent with the Mishnah in Berachot 13a. Regarding the last section, the Rambam desired to supply us with both the reason for its inclusion and its placement after the second section (even though the third section precedes it in the Torah itself).

since it contains [the concept of] the unity of God - The statement "God is our Lord, God is one" implies not only that there is only one God, but all creation is one with Him. See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 61:6.

[the commandment of] loving Him - "And you shall love God, your Lord, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength" (Deuteronomy 6:5).

the study of Torah - "... and you shall teach your children and speak of them" (Deuteronomy 6:7).

It must be noted that in Hilchot Talmud Torah, the Rambam quotes Deuteronomy 11:19 (a verse in the second section of the Shema), as the source for the mitzvah of Torah study.

it being a fundamental principle upon which everything is based - This refers to the concept of the unity of God. (See Hilchot Yesodei HaTorah 1:6.)

After it [we read] "And if you will listen...," since it contains the imperative to fulfill the rest of the commandments - "And if you will listen to all my commandments..." (Deuteronomy 11:13). This section also contains the commandment of loving God (verse 13) and the study of Torah (verse 19). It is, however, the mention of "all the commandments" which distinguishes this section as separate and unique from the first section.

and finally the portion of tzitzit, since it also contains the imperative of remembering all the commandments - "And you shall see them (tzitzit - the fringes on the corners of four-cornered garments) and remember all the commandments of God and do them" (Numbers 15:39).

Rashi, in his commentary on the above verse, explains how tzitzit serve as a reminder of all the Torah's commandments. The numerical value of the Hebrew word ציצית is 600 (צ = 90 י = 10 צ = 90 י = 10 ת = 400) There are also eight strings and five knots. Therefore, by looking at the tzitzit, one is reminded of the 613 divine commandments.

3

The commandment of tzitzit is not obligatory at night. Nevertheless, we recite [the section describing] it at night because it contains mention of the exodus from Egypt.

We are commanded to mention the exodus both during the day and at night as [Deuteronomy 16:3] states: "In order that you shall remember the day of your leaving the land of Egypt all the days of your life."

Reading these three sections in this order constitutes the recitation of the Shema.

ג

אע"פ שאין מצות ציצית נוהגת בלילה קוראין אותה בלילה מפני שיש בה זכרון יציאת מצרים ומצוה להזכיר יציאת מצרים ביום ובלילה שנאמר למען תזכור את יום צאתך מארץ מצרים כל ימי חייך וקריאת שלש פרשיות אלו על סדר זה היא הנקראת קריאת שמע:

The commandment of tzitzit is not obligatory at night - Numbers 15:39 states: "And you shall see them..." - implying that tzitzit must only be worn when they can be seen, i.e., daytime. Accordingly, there is no obligation to wear tzitzit at night. See Hilchot Tzitzit 3:7-8.

Nevertheless, we recite [the section describing] it at night because it mentions the exodus from Egypt - "I am God, your Lord, who took you out of the land of Egypt to be your Lord, I am God, your Lord" (Numbers 15:41).

The Kessef Mishneh explains that the mention of the exodus can itself be understood as the reason for the inclusion of this section in Kri'at Shema. The Rambam, however, mentions tzitzit as the basis for the presence of this section in Kri'at Shema (see Halachah 2), since it is the tzitzit that cause us to remember all the commandments.

We are commanded to mention the exodus from Egypt both during the day and at night - See Berachot 12b.

It is interesting to note that in Sefer HaMitzvot, the Rambam does not count the mentioning of the exodus from Egypt as one of the 613 commandments in the Torah, nor does he mention it elsewhere in the Mishneh Torah.

The Rambam does, however, count the commandment of the telling of the story of the exodus on the fifteenth of Nisan - i.e., Passover night - as one of the mitzvot. See Sefer HaMitzvot (Positive Commandment 157), Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 21), and Hilchot Chametz U'Matzah, Chapters 7 and 8.

According to some opinions, one can differentiate between the two obligations as follows: A person can fulfill his daily obligation with simply a thought about the exodus, whereas on Pesach night the mitzvah can be performed only through the verbal description of the redemption from Egypt. (See Sha'agat Aryeh, 13.)

This would explain the omission of this commandment from Sefer HaMitzvot. A commandment that can be fulfilled with a thought alone and not an explicit statement or action is not "worthy" of inclusion in the list of 613 commandments of the Torah. (See the Rambam's explanation of the commandment to remember Amalek: Positive Commandment 189).

The Aruch HaShulchan, however, disagrees with this opinion. In Orach Chayim 67, he states that even the daily obligation requires an explicit statement. Nevertheless, he explains that it was not chosen as one of the 613 commandments because the obligation to remember the exodus twice daily is not stated in the form of a command in the Torah to "Remember," but rather, as a reason for another mitzvah (the mitzvah of matzah): "In order that you shall remember..." (Deuteronomy 16:3).

all the days of your life - The word "all" includes even the nighttime.

The Zohar (Parshat Vayakhel 216b) explains the mystical significance of mentioning the exodus from Egypt after proclaiming the unity of God.

The reading of these three sections in this order constitutes the recitation of the Shema. - The Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 1:5) mentions that the sections of Kri'at Shema also contain a reference to each of the 10 utterances of the revelation at Mount Sinai (Exodus 20:1-14), thus representing a complete statement of Jewish spirituality and values.

4

When reciting the Shema, after completing the first verse, one says quietly "Blessed be the name of the glory of His Kingdom forever." He then continues to read the first section in its normal fashion: "And you shall love God, your Lord..."

Why do we read it in this fashion? It is our tradition that when the patriarch, Jacob, gathered all his sons together in Egypt close to his death, he commanded and urged them regarding the Unity of God and the path of God upon which Abraham and Isaac, his father, had tread.

He asked them: "My sons, perhaps there are dregs among you, one who does not stand with me in the Unity of God?" This is comparable to the manner in which Moses, our teacher, said to us: "Lest there be among you a man or woman [whose heart turns this day from God...]" (Deuteronomy 29:17).

They all answered and said: "Listen, Israel, God is our Lord, God is One," i.e., listen to us, Israel, our father, God is our Lord, God is One.

The wise elder responded: "Blessed be the Name of the Glory of His Kingdom forever." Therefore, the Jews are accustomed to utter the praise that Israel, the wise elder, uttered after this verse.

ד

הקורא קריאת שמע כשהוא גומר פסוק ראשון אומר בלחש ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד וחוזר וקורא כדרכו ואהבת את יי' אלהיך עד סופה ולמה קורין כן מסורת היא בידינו שבשעה שקבץ יעקב אבינו את בניו במצרים בשעת מיתתו ציום וזרזם על יחוד השם ועל דרך ה' שהלך בה אברהם ויצחק אביו ושאל אותם ואמר להם בני שמא יש בכם פסלות מי שאינו עומד עמי ביחוד השם כענין שאמר לנו משה רבינו פן יש בכם איש או אשה וגו' ענו כולם ואמרו שמע ישראל יי' אלהינו יי' אחד כלומר שמע ממנו אבינו ישראל יי' אלהינו יי' אחד פתח הזקן ואמר ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד לפיכך נהגו כל ישראל לומר שבח ששבח בו ישראל הזקן אחר פסוק זה:

When reciting the Shema, after completing the first verse, one says quietly: "Blessed be the name of the glory of His Kingdom forever." - This phrase is recited quietly because it is not part of the section of the Shema as it appears in the Torah, but rather was recited by Jacob in Egypt, as explained later in this halachah.

It is, however, pronounced loudly on Yom Kippur. Pirkei D'rabbi Eliezer explains that the angels praise God with this verse. On Yom Kippur, we are as pure as angels and thus, emulate their practice (Hagahot Maimoniot).

It is preferable to separate clearly between the end of "Blessed be the name" - i.e., the words לעולם ועד - forever, and the beginning of the next section, ואהבת (And you shall love...) (Tur, Orach Chayim 61).

He then continues to read the first section. Why do we read it in this fashion? - i.e., Why do we include this verse of "Blessed be the name...," since it is not part of the section of the Torah beginning with "Shema Yisrael..."

It is our tradition that when the patriarch, Jacob, gathered all his sons together in Egypt close to his death - See Genesis, Chapter 49.

he commanded and urged them regarding the Unity of God and the path of God upon which Abraham and Isaac, his father, had tread. - This narrative can be found in Pesachim 56a.

He asked them: "My sons, perhaps there are dregs among you, one who does not stand with me in the Unity of God?" - What would cause Jacob to have such a doubt regarding his children? One of the greatest merits of Jacob is that he - unlike Avraham, who fathered Yishmael, and Yitzchak, who had Esau as a son - had only righteous children.

Pesachim (ibid.) explains that Jacob desired to reveal the secret of the end of days to his children, but that this knowledge suddenly left him. He was worried that perhaps his sudden lack of understanding was due to the imperfect state of his children and therefore, felt compelled to ask them about their faith in the One God.

The Rambam omits all these particulars, since they are not relevant to the matter at hand - namely, the source of the custom of saying "Blessed be the name..." after "Shema Yisrael..."

This is comparable to the manner in which Moses, our teacher, said to us: "Lest there be among you a man or woman [whose heart turns this day from God...]" - The Rambam adds this in order to teach us the nature of Jacob's doubts. He was not casting aspersions on the behavior of his sons, since he knew that their deeds were righteous. He was, however, worried that perhaps one of them had a mistaken understanding regarding the unity of God. This is in line with the verse the Rambam quotes. Moses is not chastising the Jewish people for their actions, but rather warning them of the possibility that there might be someone with a lack of faith that could lead to blasphemy later (Kessef Mishneh).

They all answered and said: "Listen, Israel, - Jacob is also called by that name (Genesis 32:29).

God is our Lord, God is One," i.e., listen to us, Israel, our father, God is our Lord, God is One.

The wise elder responded: - Praising God for the fortune of having righteous children;

"Blessed be the Name of the Glory of His Kingdom forever." Therefore, the Jews are accustomed to utter the praise that Israel, the wise elder, uttered after this verse.

Commentary, Halachah 5

Blessings are recited before and after Kri'at Shema. - See the Mishnah, Berachot 11a.

In the day, one recites two blessings before it and one after it. At night, one recites two blessings before and two blessings after it. - There are a total of seven blessings associated with the reading of the Shema, three in the day and four at night. The Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 1:5) bases this on the verse "Seven (times) in the day will I praise you" (Psalms 119:164).

The Tanya, Chapter 49, discusses the reasons for these blessings at length, noting that, on the surface, they are not related to the Shema at all. That text explains that the basic intent of Kri'at Shema is to attain the love for God as described in the verse, "And you shall love God, your Lord, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength."

To reach such a level, one must first contemplate the greatness of God. Accordingly, in the first blessing, we outline the praises of God uttered by the angels, who are of supreme intelligence and spiritual wisdom. These lofty creatures proclaim God's greatness and abnegate themselves completely to Him, stating that He transcends even their ability to understand.

Then, in the second blessing, we describe God's great love for the Jewish people, as manifested by His giving us His Torah and choosing us as His people.

Having contemplated such ideas, we are prepared to reciprocate God's love for us by proclaiming our love for Him. We recognize His infinite Greatness and Unity, see His Providence in the events of our life, and internalize our intellectual understanding into an emotional outpouring for our Creator.

5

Blessings are recited before and after Kri'at Shema. In the day, one recites two blessings before it and one after it. At night, one recites two blessings before and two blessings after it.

ה

הקורא קריאת שמע מברך לפניה ולאחריה ביום מברך שתים לפניה ואחת לאחריה ובלילה מברך שתים לפניה ושתים לאחריה:

6

The first blessing preceding [the Shema] in the day [begins: "Blessed are You, God...], the One who forms the light and creates darkness,..." The second blessing [begins with]: "With everlasting love, You have loved us..."

[The Shema] is followed by [the section beginning] "True and certain..."

The first blessing preceding [the Shema] at night [begins: "Blessed are You, God...], the One who brings the evening,..." and the second [begins] "With everlasting love, You have loved Your people Israel." The first blessing after [the Shema] is [the section begining] "True and faithful..." and the second [begins] "Lay us down..."

ו

ברכה ראשונה שלפניה ביום יוצר אור ובורא חשך וכו' וברכה שנייה אהבת עולם אהבתנו ושל אחריה אמת ויציב וברכה ראשונה שלפניה בלילה מעריב ערבים וכו' שנייה לה אהבת עולם בית ישראל עמך אהבת כו' וברכה ראשונה על אחריה אמת ואמונה שנייה לה השכיבנו:

The first blessing preceding [the Shema] in the day [begins: "Blessed are You, God...], the One who forms the light and creates darkness etc." - Berachot 13b mentions that the Sages required the mention of night during the day to contradict clearly the misunderstanding of the non-believers that He who created light did not create darkness.

The second blessing [begins with]: "With everlasting love, You have loved us..." - The opening phrase of this blessing is the subject of a disagreement between the Sages (Berachot 11b). Rav Yehudah says in the name of Shmuel that the blessing should begin with אהבה רבה (Great love). The Sages, based on the verse in Jeremiah 31:2, believe that it should begin with אהבת עולם (Everlasting love). The Rambam follows the latter opinion.

The Tur (Orach Chayim 60) mentions that the Talmud instituted the custom of saying אהבה רבה in the morning and אהבת עולם at night in order to meet the requirements of both positions. Tosafot in Berachot 11b and the Rosh are also in favor of such a solution. The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 60a rules in accordance with the Rambam's position.

Ashkenazim are accustomed to recite the blessings as preferred by the Rosh and the Tur. (See the Ramah on Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 60a.) Sephardim and those who pray according to the Nusach Sephard, the prayer text generally used by Chassidim today, say אהבת עולם twice daily, both in the day and at night.

[The Shema] is followed by [the section beginning] "True and certain..." - affirming the truth of the statements mentioned in the Shema.

At night, the first blessing preceding [the Shema begins: "Blessed are You, God...], the One who brings the evening,..." and the second [begins with] "With everlasting love, You have loved Your people Israel." The first blessing after [the Shema] is [the section begining] "True and faithful..." - These blessings parallel the content of the three blessings recited in the morning.

and the second [begins] "Lay us down..." - in preparation for going to sleep.

7

The first blessing preceding [the Shema], both in the day and at night, begins "Blessed [are You, God, our Lord...]" and concludes "Blessed [are You, God]..." The rest of the blessings all conclude with "Blessed [are]...," but do not begin "Blessed [are]..."

These blessings and all the rest of the blessings familiar to the Jewish people were instituted by Ezra, the scribe, and his court. One may not detract from them or add to them.

In every instance that they decreed to conclude with "Blessed...," one may not omit this conclusion. Where they decreed not to conclude [with "Blessed..."], one may not conclude with it. Where they decreed not to begin with "Blessed," one may not begin with it. Where they decreed to begin [with "Blessed..."], one may not omit it.

The general principle is that anyone who deviates from the set form of blessings established by the Sages is mistaken and must recite the blessing again in its proper form.

Anyone who does not say [the paragraph of] "True and certain..." in the morning prayer or [the paragraph of] "True and faithful..." in the evening prayer does not fulfill his obligation.

ז

ברכה ראשונה שלפניה בין ביום בין בלילה פותח בה בברוך וחותם בה בברוך ושאר ברכותיה חותם בכל אחת מהן בברוך ואין להם פתיחה בברוך ברכות אלו עם שאר כל הברכות הערוכות בפי כל ישראל עזרא הסופר ובית דינו תקנום ואין אדם רשאי לפחות מהם ולא להוסיף עליהם מקום שהתקינו לחתום בברוך אינו רשאי שלא לחתום ומקום שהתקינו שלא לחתום אינו רשאי לחתום מקום שהתקינו שלא לפתוח בברוך אינו רשאי לפתוח מקום שהתקינו לפתוח אינו רשאי שלא לפתוח כללו של דבר כל המשנה ממטבע שטבעו חכמים בברכות הרי זה טועה וחוזר ומברך כמטבע וכל שאינו אומר אמת ויציב בשחרית ואמת ואמונה בערבית לא יצא ידי חובתו:

To understand this halachah fully, a short introduction to the rules contained within it is necessary. The Mishnah (Berachot 11a) and the Tosefta (Berachot 1:7) discuss the concepts of the beginning (p'tichah, פתיחה) and conclusion (chatimah, חתימה) of blessings.

The p'tichah of a blessing follows the formula of "Blessed are You O God, our Lord, King of the Universe..." The chatimah of a blessing is "Blessed are You, O God..."

Some blessings have both a p'tichah and a chatimah (e.g., the first blessings before Kri'at Shema both in the day and at night and the blessing made at Kiddush of Friday night), while others have only a p'tichah (e.g. blessings made before eating food or performing a commandment) or a chatimah (e.g., the rest of the blessings of Kri'at Shema and the majority of the blessings of the silent Amidah prayer).

The first blessing preceding it, both in the day and at night, begins "Blessed [are You, God our Lord...]" and concludes "Blessed [are You, God...]" - The first blessing in a series of blessings generally possesses a p'tichah, as well as a chatimah. Other examples of this are the first blessing in the silent Amidah prayer and the blessing with which we begin grace after meals.

The rest of the blessings all conclude with "Blessed [are]...", but do not begin "Blessed [are]..." - A blessing which immediately follows another as part of a series of blessings is not introduced with a p'tichah (Berachot 46a). The paragraphs of "True and certain" and "True and faithful" are also considered as blessings that follow another blessing, even though the Kri'at Shema itself would seem to constitute an interruption. Therefore, these blessings need not begin with a p'tichah, but simply conclude with the standard chatimah: Blessed are You, God (Rashi, Berachot 36a).
[

The Rambam discusses only the concepts of p'tichah and chatimah and omits the second category of blessings mentioned in the Mishnah and Tosefta (i.e., long and short blessings). This seems to indicate that he equated a long blessing with that which has a p'tichah and a chatimah, and a short blessing with one that has only a chatimah (Kessef Mishneh). In fact, in his commentary on the Mishnah (Berachot 11a), the Rambam writes that even a long blessing has a p'tichah and chatimah, and a short one has only one of the above.

In contrast, Rashi (Berachot 11a) holds that the distinction between long and short blessings is a matter of length only, irrespective of p'tichot and chatimot. He defines the blessing of אמת ואמונה - "True and faithful" - (the first blessing after Kri'at Shema at night) as a long blessing, and "Lay us down" (the last blessing after Kri'at Shema at night) to be a short blessing, even though they both have only a chatimah and no p'tichah.]

These blessings and all the rest of the blessings familiar to the Jewish people were instituted by Ezra, the scribe, and his court - This is a general statement. In particular, there are some blessings that were not established by Ezra, but rather by the Sages of the Mishnah. See Hilchot Tefillah 2:1 and Hilchot Berachot 2:1.

One may not detract from them or add to them.

In every instance that they decreed to conclude with "Blessed..." - e.g., all the blessings of Kri'at Shema, the silent Amidah prayer and grace after meals. (See the introduction to this halachah in order to understand the following laws fully.)

One may not omit it.

Where they decreed not to conclude [with "Blessed..."] - e.g., blessings for food and preceding the performance of commandments.

one may not conclude with it.

Where they decreed not to begin... - e.g., all blessings that follow another in a series of blessings, such as the silent Amidah or the blessings before Kri'at Shema.

One may not begin with it.

Where they decreed to begin [with "Blessed..."] - e.g., the first blessings of Kri'at Shema, the silent Amidah prayer and grace after meals.

one may not omit it.

The general principle is that anyone who deviates from the set form of blessings established by the Sages is mistaken and must recite the blessing again in its proper form - This decision is based on the Mishnah (Berachot 11a).

In Hilchot Berachot (1:5-6), the Rambam writes that a person who mentions the central ideas contained in the p'tichah - i.e., the name of God and His sovereignty - even were he to deviate from the set form of the blessing, would fulfill his obligation.

We must understand the present halachah in this context. Only when one deviates from the p'tichah or chatimah of a blessing does the Rambam require the recitation of another blessing. However, a person who maintains the nature of the p'tichah and chatimah, but changes the wording of the rest of the blessing, fulfills his obligation as long as the basic intent of the blessing remains.

Anyone who does not say [the paragraph of] "True and certain..." in the morning prayer or [the paragraph of] "True and faithful..." in the evening prayer - Berachot 12a derives this from Psalms 92:3: "To relate Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness at night." Rashi explains that ויציב אמת, "True and certain" (which is recited after Kri'at Shema in the morning) is necessary, since it tells of God's infinite lovingkindness in taking our forefathers out of Egypt and splitting the Red Sea.

אמת ואמונה (True and faithful) (which is recited at night) chronicles our hopes and beliefs regarding our future, that God will fulfill His promise to redeem us from the exile and restore us to a vibrant life of freedom. The Tur (Orach Chayim 66) explains that אמת ואמונה (True and faithful) could also refer to our faith that God will return our soul, which we put in His trust every night, to us.

does not fulfill his obligation - Rav Hai Gaon holds that the blessings of Kri'at Shema are an integral and necessary part of the fulfillment of the commandment. Therefore, he explains Berachot 12a as saying that one who does not say Emet v'yatziv has not fulfilled his obligation of Kri'at Shema and must therefore recite it again. The Rambam appears to accept this opinion.

However, the vast majority of the Rishonim are of the opinion that a person can fulfill his obligation to recite the Shema even if he does not recite the blessings. The above passage, therefore, is to be understood as teaching that one has not performed the mitzvah in its proper fashion if he omits the blessings.

Both the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 66:10) reflect this understanding. They add the word "properly" at the end of this halachah: "One who does not say Emet v'yatziv, etc., does not fulfill his obligation properly. He need not, however, recite the Shema again."

8

One who recites the second blessing before the first, whether in the day or at night, or whether the transposed blessings are recited before or after Kri'at Shema, fulfills his obligation, since there is no absolute order to the blessings.

A person who begins with "...the One who forms the light..." and concludes with "...the One who brings the evenings" in the morning prayer does not fulfill his obligation.

Were he to begin with "...the One who brings the evenings" and conclude with "...the One who forms the light", he would fulfill his obligation. Were he to begin with "...the One who brings the evenings" ...and conclude with "...the One who forms the light" in the evening, he would not fulfill his obligtation.

If he begins with "...the One who forms light" and concludes with "...the One who brings the evenings" - he fulfills his obligation since all blessings are defined by their conclusions.

ח

הקדים ברכה שנייה לברכה ראשונה בין ביום בין בלילה בין לפניה בין לאחריה יצא לפי שאין סדר בברכות בשחרית פתח יוצר אור וסיים מעריב ערבים לא יצא פתח במעריב ערבים וסיים ביוצר אור יצא ובערב פתח במעריב ערבים וסיים ביוצר אור לא יצא פתח ביוצר אור וסיים במעריב ערבים יצא שכל הברכות הולכות אחר חתימתן:

One who recites the second blessing - e.g., Ahavat Olam

before the first - e.g., yotzer or,

Even in such an instance, the second blessing should be recited without a p'tichah, since it usually follows another blessing (Kessef Mishneh). See also Magen Avraham on Orach Chayim 60:3.

whether in the day or at night, or whether the transposed blessings are recited before or after Kri'at Shema, - i.e., even if he recites all the blessings after reciting the Shema.

fulfills his obligation, since there is no absolute order to the blessings - "And what does it mean that blessings are not an integral and necessary requirement? This refers to the order of the blessings" (Berachot 12a).

A person who begins with "...the One who forms the light..." - i.e., "Blessed are You, God, our Lord, King of the universe, who forms the light and creates the darkness (חושך וצר אור ובורא), this being the proper p'tichah for the first blessing before Kri'at Shema in the morning.

and concludes with "...the One who brings the evenings" - i.e., Blessed are You O God, who brings the evenings (המעריב ערבים), this being the proper chatimah for the first blessing at night.

in the morning prayer does not fulfill his obligation. - As explained later in this halachah, all the blessings are ultimately defined by their chatimah. In this case, the chatimah is that of the evening blessings and is therefore inappropriate here.

Were he to begin with "...the One who brings the evenings" - i.e., "Blessed are You O God, our Lord, King of the universe, who, through His word, makes evenings fall (אשר בדברו מעריב ערבים)," this being the proper p'tichah for the first blessing at night.

and conclude with "...the One who forms the light" - the conclusion of which is "Blessed are You O God, who forms the lights (יוצר המאורות)," this being the proper chatimah for the first blessing in the morning

he would fulfill his obligation - since the chatimah is proper.

Were he to begin with "...the One who brings the evenings" - i.e., "Blessed are You O God, our Lord, King of the Universe, who through His word, makes evenings fall (אשר בדברו מעריב ערבים) ," this being the p'tichah for the first blessing at night

...and conclude with "...the One who forms the light" - i.e., "Blessed are You O God, the One who forms the lights (יוצר המאורות)," this being the proper chatimah for the first blessing in the day.

in the evening, he would not fulfill his obligtation. - since the chatimah is inappropriate.

If he begins with "...the One who forms light" - i.e., "Blessed are You O God, our Lord, King of the Universe, who forms light and creates darkness (יוצר אור ובורא חושך)," this being the p'tichah for the first blessing in the day.

and concludes with "...the One who brings the evenings" - i.e., "Blessed are You O God, the One who brings the evenings המעריב ערבים," this being the chatimah for the first blessing at night.

he fulfills his obligation since all blessings are defined by their conclusions - i.e., by their chatimot. This entire halachah is based on Berachot 12a. That passage discusses whether the p'tichah or chatimah is the ultimate defining feature of a blessing and reaches this conclusion.

The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 59:2 explains that though the chatimah is the primary determining factor, the text of the blessing must also be appropriate.

Thus, were one to recite the whole paragraph of "... The One who brings the evenings" and then say "Blessed are You O God, who forms the lights," he would not fulfill his obligation regarding the first blessing of Kri'at Shema in the morning, even though he recited the proper chatimah.

9

When is the [proper] time for the recitation of Shema at night? The commandment [starts] from the time of the appearance of the stars...

A person who transgresses and delays fulfills his obligation if he recites [the Shema] before dawn. [The Sages established the limit] of midnight only in order to distance us from negligent wrongdoing.

ט

אי זהו זמן קריאת שמע בלילה מצותה משעת יציאת הכוכבים עד חצי הלילה ואם עבר ואיחר וקרא עד שלא עלה עמוד השחר יצא ידי חובתו שלא אמרו עד חצות אלא כדי להרחיק אדם מן הפשיעה:

When is the [proper] time for the recitation of Shema at night? The commandment [starts] from the time of the appearance of the stars... - The Mishnah (Berachot 2a) states that the time for the recitation of the Shema begins at the hour when a priest who has become ritually impure may immerse in a mikveh and resume eating terumah. The Talmud explains that this is the time when the stars appear.

Tosafot (Berachot 2a) holds that the Shema may be recited earlier, during the last hour before sunset. This is based on the understanding that Rabbi Yehudah, who disagrees with the majority opinion regarding the proper time for the afternoon prayer, also disagrees about the proper time for the evening prayer and Kri'at Shema contained therein. (See Tur, Orach Chayim 235.) This will be discussed at length in Hilchot Tefilah 3:6.

There are several different positions regarding the precise definition of צאת הכוכבים (the appearance of the stars). It generally refers to the appearance of three medium-sized stars. The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 235:1 requires the sighting of three small stars before reciting Kri'at Shema at night. The Magen Avraham explains that the basic halachah is indeed that three medium sized stars constitute the time of צאת הכוכבים, but that the Shulchan Aruch obligated one to wait for smaller stars in order to diminish the possibility of error regarding the recitation of Kri'at Shema at night.

There are three basic positions regarding the actual time of צאת הכוכבים (the appearance of the stars). Shabbat 34b determines that it refers to the time that it takes one to walk 3/4 of a mil after sunset.

The other two positions are found in Pesachim 94a: one defines צאת הכוכבים as the amount of time needed to walk four mil after sunset, and the other, as the time necessary to walk five mil.

There are two different methods of determining the time it takes to walk a mil. The Rambam, Commentary to the mishnah, Pesachim 3:2, maintains that it takes 24 minutes to walk a mil. However, the most widely held opinion - and the opinion accepted regarding halachah l'ma'aseh - is that the measure of time is 18 minutes.

Therefore, according to Shabbat 34b, the appearance of the stars is 13 1/2 (3/4 x 18) minutes after sunset. Both the Vilna Gaon and the Shulchan Aruch HaRav maintain that צאת הכוכבים is determined in this fashion. Thus, the proper local time may be calculated by extrapolation based on the amount of light visible 13 1/2 minutes after sunset in Eretz Yisrael on the day of the Equinox. Generally, people wait up to 36 minutes after sunset in order to be certain.

According to Pesachim 94a, the appearance of the stars will be either 72 (4 x 18) minutes or 90 (5 x 18) minutes after sunset. Rabbenu Tam strongly suggests adhering to the position that צאת הכוכבים takes place 72 minutes after sunset. Though some authorities support the 90-minute position, Rabbi Moshe Feinstein (Iggerot Moshe, Orach Chayim, Vol. 1, Siman 24), mentions only the position of the Vilna Gaon and the Shulchan Aruch HaRav, on the one hand, and Rabbenu Tam on the other.

[and continues] until midnight - There are three positions recorded in the Mishnah in Berachot 2a regarding the time until which one may recite the Shema at night.

Rabbi Eliezer says until the end of the first of the three watches of the Temple - i.e., one third of the night, which is until approximately 9:30 pm. The Sages say until midnight, and Rabban Gamliel says until dawn. The Mishnah then explains that the Sages' opinion is, in effect, that one may recite the Shema until dawn, but that they mentioned midnight as a preferred time in order to distance people from transgression. This is the source of this halachah in the Rambam.

The Rosh and the Tur (Orach Chayim 235) hold that the halachah follows Rabban Gamliel's position, and that a priori (לכתחילה), a person may read the Shema at night until dawn. The Rambam sees the Sages' position as halachically valid, and therefore one may rely on Rabban Gamliel only after the fact (בדיעבד). The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 235:3 quotes the Rambam's position. (See also Mishnah Berurah 235:34-35.)

A person who transgresses and delays - the Rabbinic decree that the Shema should be read before midnight.

fulfills his obligation if he recites [the Shema] before dawn. - In his commentary on the Mishnah (Berachot 1:1), the Rambam defines dawn (עלות השחר) as the light that radiates from the east before sunrise.

There are three major positions regarding this time. All are based on Pesachim 94a which defines the time from dawn until sunrise as that in which a person can walk either 4 mil (according to one opinion) or 5 mil (according to the other).

As mentioned above, there are two opinions regarding the measure of time it takes to walk a mil: 18 minutes or 24 minutes. Thus, Rav Shneur Zalman of Liadi defines dawn as 120 (5 x 24) minutes before sunrise. The most widely held view is that it is 90 (5 x 18) minutes before sunrise, while the Beit Yosef holds that dawn is 72 (4 x 18) minutes before sunrise. This is the opinion of the Rambam, as stated in his commentary on the Mishnah (Berachot 1:1.)

[The Sages established the limit] of midnight only in order to distance us from negligent wrongdoing. - Berachot 1:1 lists other instances where the Sages established similar guidelines, e.g., partaking of sacrificial meat, burning sacrificial limbs.

10

One who reads the Shema [of the night] after dawn, [but] before sunrise, does not fulfill his obligation unless he was unavoidably detained - e.g., drunk or sick, or in a similar situation. A person who was so detained and reads [the Shema] at this time does not recite [the blessing of] "Lay us down."

י

הקורא קריאת שמע של ערבית אחר שיעלה עמוד השחר קודם הנץ החמה לא יצא ידי חובתו אא"כ היה אנוס כגון שכור או חולה וכיוצא בהן ואנוס שקרא בעת זה אינו אומר השכיבנו:

One who reads the Shema [of the night] after dawn - as explained above, dawn is generally defined as the end of the night.

[but] before sunrise - the last possible time that could be defined as night

does not fulfill his obligation unless he was unavoidably detained - e.g., drunk or sick, or in a similar situation. -

Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai said in the name of Rabbi Akiva: "Sometimes a person can recite the Shema twice in the day, once before sunrise and once after sunrise, and fulfill his obligation - once for the day and once for the night."
Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: "The law follows [the statement of] Rabbi Shimon in the name of Rabbi Akiva." Rav Zeira says: "This is so, provided that he does not say [the paragraph of] "Lay us down" (Berachot 8b-9a).

The Talmud explains that Rabbi Shimon's statement only applies when a person is unavoidably detained. The evening Shema must be recited "when you lie down." The Torah left the definition of that term to the Rabbis. The latter maintained that a person who intentionally delays the recitation of the Shema cannot recite it after dawn. However, they were more lenient in regard to a person who was unavoidably detained and gave him until sunrise.

A person who was so detained and reads [the Shema] at this time does not recite [the blessing of] "Lay us down." - for this is not a time when a person lays himself down to sleep. Nevertheless, one does recite the other blessings related to Kri'at Shema at night (two before and one after it).

11

When is the proper time [for the recitation of the Shema] during the day? The commandment is that one should start to read before sunrise in order to conclude and recite the last blessing with the sunrise. This measure [of time] is one-tenth of an hour before the sun rises.

A person who delays and reads the Shema after the sun rises fulfills his obligation, for the proper time is until the end of the third hour of the day for one who transgresses and delays.

יא

ואי זה הוא זמנה ביום מצותה שיתחיל לקרות קודם הנץ החמה כדי שיגמור לקרות ולברך ברכה אחרונה עם הנץ החמה ושיעור זה כמו [עישור] שעה קודם שתעלה השמש ואם איחר וקרא קריאת שמע אחר שתעלה השמש יצא ידי חובתו שעונתה עד סוף שלש שעות ביום למי שעבר ואיחר:

When is the proper time [for the recitation of the Shema] during the day? The commandment is that one should start to read before sunrise - The Mishnah, (Berachot 9b) records a disagreement regarding the time of Kri'at Shema in the morning.

An anonymous position sees the earliest possible time as when one can distinguish between techelet (blue-green) and white. Rabbi Eliezer says: Between green and blue-green - i.e., later - and that the time lasts until sunrise. Rabbi Yehoshua says that one may recite the Shema "until three hours."

The Talmud then adds various other opinions and quotes Abaye as saying that the Shema should be recited כותיקין - i.e., one should finish reciting the Shema as the sun rises, in order to start the silent Amidah with the sunrise.

The Rambam clearly prefers this position and establishes 6 minutes as a reasonable amount of time to recite the Shema and the blessing after it, in order to start the Amidah at the proper time. The Magen Avraham (Orach Chaim 58:1) explains that all opinions agree that the commandment to recite Shema in the morning begins at dawn. The only disagreement revolves around the optimum time to recite Kri'at Shema. The Vilna Gaon differs and explains that the Rambam holds that Abaye's position states the actual time of the beginning of the commandment itself and that it may be recited earlier only in extraordinary circumstances.

in order to conclude and recite the last blessing with the sunrise - i.e., אמת ויציב (True and certain...), which concludes: Blessed are You O God, who redeemed Israel.

This measure [of time] is one-tenth of an hour before the sun rises - This is based on the verse in Psalms 72:5, "May they fear You with the sun" - i.e., may they show their fear for You with the Amidah as the sun rises (Berachot 9b). The Talmud promises that anyone who recites the Shema and the Amidah at this time is guaranteed a place in the World to Come.

A person who delays and reads the Shema after the sun rises fulfills his obligation, for the proper time is until the end of the third hour of the day - These do not refer to normal 60-minute hours, but are based on a different calculation. These hours are שעות זמניות - "seasonal hours," i.e., 1/12 of the duration of the daylight hours. The day and night are each divided into 12 equal parts, and each "hour" is 1/12 of that time.

For example, if there were 18 hours of daylight and 6 hours of darkness on a given day, each "hour" of the day would be 18/12 hours (or 90 minutes), and each "hour" of the night would be 6/12 hour (or 30 minutes).

There is a disagreement regarding how to calculate the durations of daylight and nighttime. The Magen Avraham holds that daylight is divided into 12 equal parts from dawn until the appearance of the stars. The Shulchan Aruch HaRav and the Vilna Gaon hold that daylight is determined from sunrise to sunset.

Therefore, the end of the third hour according to the Magen Avraham is earlier than that of the Shulchan Aruch HaRav and the Vilna Gaon, and even though each "hour" is longer, it is calculated from dawn, which is at least 72 minutes before sunrise. (See the commentary on Halachah 9.)

for one who transgresses and delays. - The use of the term "transgresses" (מי שעבר) is most striking in this context. We must say that the Rambam understands Rabbi Yehoshua's position as secondary and that, at the outset, one should recite the Shema 6 minutes before sunrise. Indeed, in his responsa, he writes that it it is preferable to read the Shema without a minyan before sunrise, than to wait until after sunrise to recite it together with a minyan.

The majority of Rishonim (see Rabbenu Asher on Berachot 9b and Beit Yosef, Orach Chayim 58) disagree with the Rambam and understand that although reciting Kriat Shema just prior to sunrise is the most desirable method of fulfilling one's obligation (מצוה מן המובחר), the actual commandment is from before sunrise (i.e., the time at which one can recognize his friend 6 feet away) to the end of the third hour. (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 58:1 and the definition there regarding the proper time for the commandment.)

12

One who is overhasty and recites the Shema of the morning prayers after dawn, even though he finishes before sunrise, fulfills his obligation. In extraordinary circumstances - e.g., one who rises early in order to travel - one may recite it at the outset from dawn.

יב

מי שהקדים וקרא קריאת שמע של שחרית אחר שיעלה עמוד השחר אף על פי שהשלים קודם שתנץ החמה יצא ידי חובתו ובשעת הדחק כגון שהיה משכים לצאת לדרך קורא לכתחלה משעלה עמוד השחר:

One who is overhasty and recites the Shema of the morning prayers after dawn, even though he finishes before sunrise, fulfills his obligation. - This implies that this is not most desirable. Rather, prefarably, the Shema should be read immediately before sunrise, and any other time is clearly considered second best.

In extraordinary circumstances - e.g., one who rises early in order to travel - and a delay would cause him aggravation and prevent him from concentrating on his prayers

Rabbenu Manoach cites other examples when leniency is granted, among them a day when there is a burial or a bris, or Hoshanah Rabbah, when the prayer service is extended.

one may recite it at the outset from dawn. - i.e., generally, reciting the Shema at dawn is undesirable, but in this instance, the Sages considered this as the most preferable option.

13

One who recited [the Shema] after [the end of] the third hour, even if he was unavoidably detained, does not fulfill his obligation to recite the Shema at its proper time. He can be compared to one who studies Torah.

He should recite the blessings preceding it and after it all day, even if he delays and recited it after [the end of] the third hour.

יג

הקורא אחר שלש שעות ביום אפילו היה אנוס לא יצא ידי חובת קריאת שמע בעונתו אלא הרי הוא כקורא בתורה ומברך לפניה ולאחריה כל היום אפילו איחר וקרא אחר שלש שעות:

One who recited [the Shema] after [the end of] the third hour, even if he was unavoidably detained, does not fulfill his obligation to recite the Shema at its proper time. - The morning Shema must be recited "when you rise" (Deuteronomy 6:7). The latest time of rising is understood as the end of the third hour, the time that royalty rises (Berachot 9b). Even if a particular individual rises afterwards, he is considered as an exception and no leniency is granted.

The Kessef Mishneh questions why Kri'at Shema may be read in the daytime until only the end of the third hour.
Just as the obligation to recite the Shema at night lasts the entire night because the entire night is a time of lying down, so too, the Shema of the daytime should be recited all day, since the entire day is a time of being up.

The Taz (58:6) distinguishes between the nighttime, all of which is indeed a time of lying down, and the daytime. There are many acts that one does during the day - e.g., walking, sitting and eating - while rising is generally done at the beginning of the day.

He can be compared to one who studies Torah. - The Shema is also a passage in Torah. Furthermore, by reading the Shema, one accepts the yoke of heaven. Nevertheless, the reward received by a person who reads the Shema at the proper time is greater (Berachot 10b).

When a person reads the Shema at such a time...

He should recite the blessings - mentioned in Halachot 5-7.

preceding it and after it all day - Rabbenu Asher differs and limits the time when the blessings can be recited. He is unsure whether the limit is midday or until the end of the fourth hour, that being the end of the time for the morning prayers. In conclusion, he quotes Rav Hai Gaon who states that one may recite the blessings only until the end of the fourth hour - i.e., one third of the day. Rabbenu Chanan'el is also of this opinion.

Rabbenu Manoach agrees with the Rambam and allows one to recite the blessings during the entire day. The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 58:6 follows the position of Rav Hai Gaon.

even if he delays and recited it after [the end of] the third hour. - Even if one delays the Shema's recitation intentionally, he may recite the blessings.

Kri'at Shema - Chapter Two

1

One who recites the first verse of Kri'at Shema - i.e., Shema Yisrael... - without intention, does not fulfill his obligation. [One who recites] the rest without intention fulfills his obligation.

Even a person studying Torah in his usual way or proofreading these portions at the time of Kri'at Shema fulfills his obligation provided he concentrates his intention for the first verse.

א

הקורא את שמע ולא כיון לבו בפסוק ראשון שהוא שמע ישראל לא יצא ידי חובתו והשאר אם לא כיון לבו יצא אפי' היה קורא בתורה כדרכו או מגיה את הפרשיות האלו בעונת קריאה יצא והוא שכיון לבו בפסוק ראשון:

One who recites the first verse of Kri'at Shema - i.e., Shema Yisrael... - Berachot 13b mentions several opinions concerning which sections of the Shema require intention. This is dependent on the discussion (See commentary, Halachah 2) regarding the extent of the obligation to read Shema required by the Torah. Rabbi Meir understands intention to be absolutely necessary only for the first verse and this opinion is accepted by the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 60:5.

without intention - The definition of the term "intention" is the subject of much discussion by the Rabbis.

There is a dispute among the Rishonim regarding whether the performance of commandments requires intention, i.e., must a person have in mind that he is performing the required act in fulfillment of God's command or not? The Rambam (See Hilchot Shofar 2:4 and note Hilchot Chametz U'Matzah 6:4, and the commentary of the Moznaim editions of those Halachot) maintains that it is necessary to have such an intention. This opinion is also supported by Rabbenu Yitchak Alfasi and Rabbenu Asher and is accepted as Halachah by the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 60:4, 598:8). [The dissenting opinions are held by the Rashba and others.]

However, concerning the first verse of Kri'at Shema, an extra level of concentration is required. In addition to the intent to carry out God's command, the Shema must be read in fear and awe, trembling and trepidation. One accepts upon oneself the kingship of Heaven and proclaims the unity of God. It is unthinkable that at such a time, one would not focus his attention on the words he is uttering, but would rather think of mundane matters. (See Shulchan Aruch HaRav 60:5.)

Each day one should imagine that he is reciting Shema Yisrael for the first time, and not as if he had heard it many times before (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 61:1,2).

Kri'at Shema contains 248 words (245 of the three sections, plus the three extra words of Ado-nai Elo-heichem Emet repeated upon completion of the third section). This corresponds to the 248 positive commandments in the Torah and the 248 limbs of the human body (Midrash Ne'elam; quoted by the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 61:3.) Thus, the recitation of the Shema, with its affirmation of God's kingship and Unity, imbues the totality of one's being with these fundamental concepts.

does not fulfill his obligation. - and must therefore recite the Shema again.

[One who recites] the rest without intention fulfills his obligation. - Needless to say, it is not desirable to read the Shema in this manner and, at the outset, one should attempt to read the entire Shema with proper concentration.

Even a person studying Torah in his usual way - i.e., even were he studying these three sections of the Torah.

or proofreading these portions - i.e., he was examining these particular sections in a scroll to ensure their correctness.

at the time of Kri'at Shema fulfills his obligation, provided he concentrates his intention for the first verse - i.e., he must have the unique level of intention that is required for the first verse, as mentioned above.

The Kessef Mishneh explains that intention of any kind is necessary for only the first verse and, afterwards, one could continue studying or proofreading in a normal fashion, provided he reads the words properly. The Magen Avraham also supports this position (Orach Chayim 60:5).

2

A person may recite [the Shema] as he is, whether standing, walking, lying down or riding on the back of an animal. It is forbidden to recite the Shema while lying face down on the ground or flat on one's back with his face pointing upwards. However, one may recite it lying on his side.

A particularly obese person who cannot turn over onto his side or a sick person should lean slightly to the side and [then] recite it.

ב

כל אדם קורין כדרכן בין עומדין בין מהלכין בין שוכבין בין רוכבין על גבי בהמה ואסור לקרות קריאת שמע והוא מוטל ופניו טוחות בקרקע או מושלך על גבו ופניו למעלה אבל קורא הוא והוא שוכב על צדו ואם היה בעל בשר הרבה ואינו יכול להתהפך על צדו או שהיה חולה נוטה מעט לצדו וקורא:

A person may recite [the Shema] as he is - This is based on Hillel's interpretation of the verse "...and when you walk on the way" (Deuteronomy 6:7). (See the commentary on Chapter 1 Halachah 1 for further elucidation.)

whether standing, walking or lying down - Berachot 11a expands the mishnah's teachings in this manner.

or riding an animal - Kiddushin 33b equates riding on the back of an animal with walking.

It is forbidden to recite the Shema while lying face down on the ground or flat on one's back with his face pointing upwards. - Rashi (Berachot 13b) explains that these positions are improper because they imply an attitude of haughtiness which is inappropriate at the time one must accept the yoke of Heaven.

However, one may recite it lying on his side - He should be completely on his side, since Berachot (ibid.) also forbids reciting the Shema while turned slightly over onto one's side, unless extraordinary circumstances prevail, as explained by the Rambam in this halachah.

A particularly obese person who cannot turn over onto his side or a sick person should lean slightly to the side and [then] recite it. - Rabbenu Manoach states that it is forbidden for anyone else to read in such a fashion as mentioned above. They should sit upright in a position evoking awe and fear while reciting the Shema.

3

A person who is walking on foot must stop for the first verse. He may recite the rest while walking. If one is sleeping, we should disturb him by awakening him until he reads the first verse. From that point on, if he is overcome by sleep, we are not obligated to disturb him.

ג

מי שהיה מהלך על רגליו עומד בפסוק ראשון והשאר קורא והוא מהלך היה ישן מצערין אותו ומעירין אותו עד שיקרא פסוק ראשון ומכאן ואילך אם אנסתו שינה אין מצערין אותו:

A person who is walking on foot must stop for the first verse - in order to concentrate his attention.

Berachot 13b mentions two opinions regarding the extent of the Shema one must recite before he may continue on his way:
that of Rav Yehudah which requires the first two verses of the Shema to be recited standing;
and that of Rabbi Yochanan which requires the entire Shema to be recited in a stationary position.

Rav Yitzchak Alfasi explains that the actual halachah does not follow either of these positions, but rather is in accordance with the view of Rabbi Meir that only the first verse requires absolute intention. (See Halachah 1.)

The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 63:3 also accepts this decision.

He may recite the rest while walking - for, as stated above, concentrated attention is not an absolute prerequisite for reading these passages.

If one is sleeping, we should disturb him by awakening him until he reads the first verse. - Berachot, op. cit., explains that one unavoidably overcome by sleep after having recited the first verse has fulfilled his obligation. The Kessef Mishneh notes that the majority of the Rishonim hold that this is the case on the condition that he nevertheless manages to recite the rest of the Shema, albeit in a drowsy state.

Thus, our halachah mentions the necessity of alertness for the first verse within the context of the halachot of the intention required to read the Shema. In Halachah 12, the Rambam discusses sleepiness within the context of the need for proper enunciation of the words of the Kri'at Shema. That halachah supports the Kessef Mishneh's position that one fulfills one's obligation only if he also recites the rest of the Shema.

From that point on, if he is overcome by sleep, we are not obligated to disturb him. - A careful reading of the Rambam’s words leads one to support the position of the Kessef Mishneh just mentioned. After the first verse, the Rambam mentions only that we need not disturb the person, but he does not write that we should not awaken him. This could mean that although we are not obligated to disturb him to such an extent that he is aroused to a state of full alertness, we are obligated to awaken him so that he can finish Kri'at Shema before going back to sleep. (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 63:5.)

4

A person who is involved in work must stop while he recites the whole first section. Artisans must also interrupt their work for the first section, in order that their recitation should not be haphazard. They may recite the rest while working in their normal manner. Even one standing in a tree or on top of a wall may read [the Shema] where he is, reciting the blessings before and after it.

ד

מי שהיה עוסק במלאכה מפסיק עד שיקרא פרשה ראשונה כולה וכן האימנין בטלין ממלאכתן בפרשה ראשונה כדי שלא תהא קריאתן עראי והשאר קורא הוא כדרכו ועוסק במלאכתו אפילו היה עומד בראש האילן או בראש הכותל קורא במקומו ומברך לפניה ולאחריה:

This and the next three halachot pertain to a person involved in other activities when the time to read the Shema arrives.

A person who is involved in work must stop while he recites the whole first section - Rav Yitzchak Alfasi explains that this applies even according to the halachically accepted position of Rabbi Meir, that utmost concentration is necessary for the first verse only. (See the commentary on Halachah 1.)

The obligation to have proper concentration and the necessity that one's recitation of the Shema not appear haphazard are two different halachic requirements.

Artisans - employed by others, whose time, therefore, is not their own. Even so they must interrupt their work in order to recite Kri'at Shema.

[Parenthetically, we can derive an important concept regarding business ethics from this halachah. If there is a question whether an artisan can interrupt his work to fulfill his fundamental religious obligations, surely, he must serve his employer faithfully at other times.]

must also interrupt their work for the first section, in order that their recitation should not be haphazard. - i.e., a casual matter, regarded lightly. See the commentary to Halachah 8.

They may recite the rest while working . - This applies both to a person working for himself as well as to a paid artisan.

Even one standing in a tree or on top of a wall may read [the Shema] where he is, - Despite the obvious difficulties this poses regarding his ability to concentrate, the Rambam allows a worker to remain in the tree or on the wall and recite the Shema.

Rabbenu Manoach holds that only the workers may remain in the tree. In contrast, a foreman who is there to encourage his work force, must descend from the tree and recite it on the ground. The Tur and the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 63:8 both disagree with this and allow both of them to recite it while in the tree.

reciting the blessings before and after it - The obligation to recite the Shema also includes the obligation to recite its blessings (Kessef Mishneh on Halachah 5).

5

A person who is studying Torah when the time to recite the Shema arrives should stop to recite the Shema with the blessings before and after it. One who is involved in community matters should not stop, but rather finishes his work and reads the Shema if there is still time left.

ה

היה עוסק בתלמוד תורה והגיע זמן קריאת שמע פוסק וקורא ומברך לפניה ולאחריה היה עוסק בצרכי רבים לא יפסוק אלא יגמור עסקיהן ויקרא אם נשאר עת לקרות:

A person who is studying Torah when the time to recite the Shema arrives should stop to recite the Shema - Shabbat 9b, 11a states that a person should interrupt his Torah study for Kri'at Shema, but not for the Amidah prayers. This refers even to Sages like Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai who would never interrupt their Torah study except to perform mitzvot which could not be performed by others. The acceptance of the yoke of God's kingship in the Shema is fundamentally necessary even for a person with such an all encompassing commitment to Torah.

Similarly, as stated above, Berachot 10b states that the recitation of the Shema at its proper time is preferable to the study of Torah.

with the blessings before and after it. - See the commentary at the end of the previous halachah.

One who is involved in community matters should not stop - The Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 5:1) equates involvement in community matters to the study of Torah, in terms of granting an exemption from prayer. The Tosefta, (Berachot 1:4) relates:

Rabbi Yehudah says: Once I was following Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah. The time of Kri'at Shema arrived (but they did not perform the mitzvah). I was under the impression that they felt unable to. They were, however, involved in community matters.

(See also Tosefta Berachot 2:6.)

but rather finishes his work - Berachot 11a derives this concept from the verse "when you walk on your way" (Deuteronomy 6:7). This implies that "on your way," i.e., while you are involved in your activities, you must read the Shema. In contrast, if you are involved in matters of communal import, there is no obligation.

and reads the Shema if there is still time left. - This implies that even were the time of Kri'at Shema to pass without him reciting the Shema, he need not interrupt his activities (Kessef Mishneh).

6

A person who is eating, is in the bathhouse, is having a haircut, is working with skins or is involved in court, should complete [his task] and recite the Shema afterwards. If he fears that the time for its recitation will pass, and, [therefore,] stops to recite it, he has acted in a praiseworthy fashion.

ו

היה עוסק באכילה או שהיה במרחץ או שהיה עוסק בתספורת או שהיה מהפך בעורות או שהיו עוסקין בדין גומר ואח"כ קורא קריאת שמע ואם היה מתיירא שמא יעבור זמן קריאה ופסק וקרא הרי זה משובח:

A person who is eating, is in the bathhouse, is having a haircut, is working with skins - The Mishnah (Shabbat 9b) prohibits one to start eating, have a haircut, work skins, etc., close to the time of the afternoon prayer. However, the Mishnah adds that were one to start doing one of these prohibited actions, he need not stop. The Rambam also applies these principles to Kri'at Shema (Lechem Mishneh). The Ra'avad (based on Sukkah 38a) differs and holds that a person must interrupt his meal in order to read the Shema.

or is involved in court - i.e., if he is one of the judges.

should complete [his task] and recite the Shema afterwards. If he fears that the time for its recitation - There is a question whether the Rambam refers to 6 minutes before sunrise, the optimum time to recite the Shema, or the end of the third hour of the day beyond which one does not fulfill the mitzvah (See Chapter 1, Halachah 11-13). According to other authorities, the latter view would be followed.

will pass, and, [therefore,] stops to recite it, he has acted in a praiseworthy fashion. - i.e., as long as he is able both to complete what he is doing and to recite the Shema before the end of the proper time for Kri'at Shema, he may complete his task.

There is an apparent difficulty with the Rambam's statements. Halachah 5 states that one must interrupt Torah study in order to recite the Shema, and yet, in this halachah, such mundane matters as eating and haircuts are deemed sufficient reasons to postpone Kri'at Shema.

The Kessef Mishneh explains that the study of Torah is interrupted, since, indeed, the recitation of the Shema need not be understood as an interruption at all. Since Kri'at Shema is in itself a section of the Torah, its reading can be likened to the study of Torah. However, in the case of the mundane activities mentioned in our halachah, Kri'at Shema would involve a complete interruption. Therefore, it is not necessary to stop.

7

A person who immerses in a ritual bath and is able to come up and dress before sunrise, should do so, and [then] recite [the Shema]. If he is afraid that perhaps the sun will rise before he can recite the Shema, he should cover himself with the water in which he stands and recite the Shema.

He should not cover himself with putrid water that has an unpleasant odor or with water that has been used for soaking flax or with water so clean that his nakedness is visible. However, he may cover himself with murky water that has no unpleasant odor and recite [the Shema] where he is.

ז

מי שירד לטבול אם יכול לעלות ולהתכסות קודם שתנץ החמה יעלה ויתכסה ויקרא ואם היה מתיירא שמא תנץ החמה קודם שיקרא יתכסה במים שהוא עומד בהן ויקרא ולא יתכסה לא במים הרעים שריחן רע ולא במי המשרה ולא במים צלולין מפני שערותו נראית בהן אבל מתכסה הוא במים עכורין שאין ריחן רע וקורא במקומו:

A person who immerses in a ritual bath and is able to come up and dress before sunrise, should do so, and [then] recite [the Shema]. - This is based on the Mishnah in Berachot 22b.

If he is afraid that perhaps the sun will rise - as mentioned in Chapter 1, Halachah 11, the optimum time to recite the Shema in the morning is shortly before sunrise.

before he can recite the Shema, - i.e., before he can dress himself and recite the Shema.

he should cover himself with the water in which he stands and recite the Shema. - These statements reinforce the explanation given in the commentary to Chapter 1, Halachah 11, that the recitation of the Shema after sunrise is only allowed after the fact (בדעיבד). Here, the Rambam states that it is preferable to read the Shema while naked in the water, then to get out, dress, and recite after that time has passed.

He should not cover himself with putrid water that has an unpleasant odor - Berachot 24b equates one who recites the Shema in a place with an unpleasant odor to one who has profaned the word of God. One who stops reciting in such a place is praised, and Deuteronomy 32:47 says about him "... in those words, your days will be lengthened". Chapter 3 deals with many halachot regarding the recitation of the Shema in unclean surroundings.

or with water that has been used for soaking flax - In the Hebrew text of the Rambam and in the Mishnah, the term used is מי משרה (water of soaking). This is understood as water used for soaking flax or canvas, which has a bad smell (Rashi, Berachot 25b).

or with water so clean that his nakedness is visible. - Chapter 3, Halachot 16 and 17, explain how it is forbidden to read the Shema in the presence of "nakedness."

However, he may cover himself with murky water that has no unpleasant odor and recite [the Shema] where he is. - See Berachot 25a.

8

While reciting the Shema, one should not gesture with his eyes or lips, or point with his fingers, in order that his reading not be haphazard. If one were to do this, although he does fulfill his obligation, he has acted improperly.

One should recite the Shema so that his words are audible to himself. [However, even] if he does not do this, he fulfills his obligation. One must enunciate the letters clearly. [However, even] if he does not do this, he fulfills his obligation.

ח

הקורא קריאת שמע לא ירמוז בעיניו ולא יקרוץ בשפתיו ולא יראה באצבעותיו כדי שלא תהיה קריאתו עראי ואם עשה כן אף על פי שיצא ידי חובתו הרי זה מגונה וצריך להשמיע לאזנו כשהוא קורא ואם לא השמיע לאזנו יצא וצריך לדקדק באותיותיו ואם לא דקדק יצא:

After discussing the intention necessary for Kri'at Shema and the proper reaction when involved in other activities as the time for the recitation of Shema arrives, the Rambam now deals with the halachot regarding the proper recitation of the words themselves. This discussion continues until the end of the chapter.

While reciting the Shema, a person should not gesture with his eyes or lips, or point with his fingers - Yoma 19b distinguishes between the first section of Kri'at Shema and the second in this regard, forbidding these activities only during the recitation of the first section. Indeed, in Halachah 4 which also deals with a "haphazard" recitation of the Shema, the Rambam, himself makes such a distinction.

Indeed, the Lechem Mishneh explains that the Rambam relies on his statements in Halachah 4. Rabbenu Manoach explains that the Rambam did not clarify the matter explicitly lest he cheapen the value of the second section in the eyes of his reader. The Kessef Mishneh adds that although making such gestures in the second section is not as "improper" as during the first, doing so is, nevertheless, prohibited.

in order that his reading not be haphazard. - Rabbi Acha notes ודברת בם ("and you shall speak of them") implies making these words a matter of primary importance, and not regarding them as haphazard (Yoma, op. cit.).

If one were to do this, although he does fulfill his obligation, he has acted improperly. - Yoma ( op. cit.) refers to Isaiah 43:22: "And you have not called upon Me, Jacob," implying that such a casual reading of the Shema is not considered as calling to God.

The Maharsha explains an added implication of the above verse. Rashi, in his commentary to Genesis 46:29, relates that when Jacob was first reunited with Joseph he made no response because he was reciting the Shema at that time. Surely, one who gestures while reading the Shema has certainly not achieved the level of devotion.

One should recite the Shema so that his words are audible to himself. - This is derived from the word Shema - literally "hear" - in the first verse. It implies that one should make audible to himself that which he says (Berachot 15a).

[However, even] if he does not do this, he fulfills his obligation. - The entire latter portion of this halachah is based on Berachot 15a:

One who recites the Shema so that the words are not audible to himself has fulfilled his obligation. Rabbi Yosse says that he has not fulfilled his obligation. If he reads, but does not enunciate clearly: Rabbi Yosse says that he has fulfilled his obligation. Rabbi Yehudah says that he has not.

The Talmud concludes (ibid. 15b) that the halachah is in accordance with the lenient position in both cases - i.e., the anonymous opinion in the first case and Rabbi Yosse in the second.

Rav Yitzchak Alfasi adds that this is only after the fact. A priori (לכתחילה), one must read in such a way as to be audible to himself and enunciate the letters clearly. The Rambam follows this view.

Nevertheless, one must at least mouth the words of Kri'at Shema, even if he does not pronounce them loudly enough that they are audible to himself. Thought is not regarded like speech. (See the commentary on Halachah 3.) Therefore, one who does not even move his lips, but just thinks about the words as he "reads" them, does not fulfill his obligation (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 62:3).

One must enunciate the letters clearly. - Berachot 15b derives this from the word ולמדתם- "And you shall teach them." It can be divided into two words ולמד תם, implying that your teaching (ולמד) must be תם - perfect.

[However, even] if he does not do this, he fulfills his obligation. - Berachot ibid. notes that if a person reads the Shema with proper enunciation, "Gehinom will be cooled off for him."

9

How must one enunciate? He must be careful not to pronounce [a letter with] a strong dagesh as if there were no dagesh, or [a letter with] no dagesh as if there were one. Nor should one pronounce the silent sheva or silence the pronounced sheva.

Therefore, one must pause between two words in which the first word ends with the same letter with which the second word begins. For example, when reading בכל לבבך (bechol levavcha) (Deuteronomy 6:5), one should pause slightly between בכל (bechol) and לבבך (levavcha). [One should act] similarly in the cases of ואבדתם מהרה (va'avad'tem meheirah) (Deuteronomy 11:17) and הכנף פתיל (hacanaf p'til) (Numbers 15:38).

One must also pronounce distinctly the zayin of תזכרו (tizkeru) (Numbers 15:40).

One should sufficiently elongate the dalet in אחד (echad) (Deuteronomy 6:4) in order to proclaim God's sovereignty over the Heaven and the Earth, and all four directions. The chet in אחד (echad, ibid.) should not be shortened so that the word sounds like איחד (ee-chad).

ט

כיצד ידקדק ישמור שלא ירפה החזק ולא יחזיק הרפה ולא יניח הנד ולא יניד הנח לפיכך צריך ליתן ריוח בין הדבקים בין כל שתי אותיות הדומות שאחת מהן סוף תיבה והאחרת תחלת תיבה הסמוכה לה כגון בכל לבבך קורא בכל ושוהה וחוזר וקורא לבבך וכן ואבדתם מהרה הכנף פתיל וצריך לבאר זיי"ן של תזכרו וצריך להאריך בדל"ת של אחד כדי שימליכהו בשמים ובארץ ובארבע רוחות וצריך שלא יחטוף בחי"ת כדי שלא יהא כאומר אי חד:

How must one enunciate? He must be careful not to pronounce [a letter with] a strong dagesh - a pronunciation mark implying that the syllable should be stressed.

as if there were no dagesh - e.g., were one to say vedivarta vam instead of the proper pronunciation, vedibarta bam (Deuteronomy 6:7).

or [a letter with] no dagesh as if there were one. - e.g., בכל לבבך (Deuteronomy 6:5) bekol lebabcha instead of the proper pronunciation, bechol levavcha.

Nor should one pronounce the silent sheva - e.g., to say bechol levavecha instead of bechol levavcha.

or silence the pronounced sheva. - e.g., to pronounce בכל נפשך (Deuteronomy 6:5) bechol nafshcha instead of bechol nafsh'cha.

Therefore - since one must enunciate every word carefully

one must pause between two words in which the first word ends with the same letter with which the second word begins. - lest the two be heard as a single word.

For example, when reading בכל לבבך (bechol levavcha) (Deuteronomy 6:5), one should pause slightly between בכל (bechol) and לבבך (levavcha).

[One should act] similarly in the cases of (avadtem meheirah) (Deuteronomy 11:17) and (hacanaf p'til) (Numbers 15:38). - Berachot 15b mentions even more cases of problematic words. The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 61:20 quotes all the examples found in the Talmud. There are other cases in Kri'at Shema where this problem arises, such as veahavta et (Deuteronomy 6:5). In all these cases care must be exercised to separate the words clearly.

It is interesting to note that the Rambam mentions one example from each of the three sections of Kri'at Shema, in order to teach us that enunciation is equally important in all the sections.

One must also pronounce distinctly the zayin of tizkeru (Numbers 15:40) - in order that he not say tiscaru - i.e., in order that he not declare: "you will garner reward." This halachah also applies to the zayin in uz'chartem (Numbers 15:36) (Kessef Mishneh). (See also the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 61:17.)

One should sufficiently elongate the dalet in echad (Deuteronomy 6:4) in order to proclaim God's sovereignty over the Heavens and the Earth and all four directions. The chet in echad (ibid.) should not be shortened - Berachot 13b relates:

Sumkos says: Anyone who lengthens the pronunciation of echad, his days and years are lengthened.
Rav Acha bar Ya'akov understands that to refer to the dalet [of Echad]. Rav Ashi says that this is on condition that he not shorten the chet.
Rav Yirmiah was sitting before Rav Chiyyah bar Abba and noticed that he severely lengthened [his dalet]. He said to him that once he had proclaimed God, King above and below and to the four directions of the Heavens, he need not continue [to prolong the dalet].

The Maharsha mentions that the chet (numerical value of eight) corresponds to the Earth and the seven levels of Heaven, and the dalet (numerical value of four) corresponds to the four directions.

so that the word sounds like ee-chad. - If one pronounces a long aleph and a short chet, he will say something that sounds like ee-chad (not one) - i.e., he would seem to be proclaiming exactly the opposite of echad. The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 61 records more halachot regarding the proper way of reciting the Shema.

It must be emphasized that the elongation of the dalet and the chet should not distort the proper pronunciation of the word.

10

A person may recite the Shema in any language he understands. One who recites in a foreign language must be as scrupulous in his enunciation as if he were reciting it in the Holy Tongue.

י

קורא אדם את שמע בכל לשון שיהיה מבינה והקורא בכל לשון צריך להזהר מדברי שבוש שבאותו הלשון ומדקדק באותו הלשון כמו שמדקדק בלשון הקדש:

A person may recite the Shema in any language he understands. - Berachot 13a records a disagreement between Rabbi Yehudah Hanasi, who holds that the Shema must be read as it is - i.e., in lashon hakodesh - and the Sages, who hold that it may be recited in any language. The latter explain that the word Shema - literally, "hear," - indicates the acceptability of any language that one hears - i.e., understands.

One who recites in a foreign language must be as scrupulous in his enunciation as if he were reciting it in the Holy Tongue - i.e., although a person is allowed to read the Shema in a foreign language, he must still fulfill all the halachic requirements of enunciation, and, therefore, careful translation, as prescribed in Halachah 9 (Kessef Mishneh).

The Ra'avad disagrees with the Rambam and prohibits one from reading the Shema in a foreign language. Since any translation is a commentary, he feels that it is impossible to read with the necessary care. The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 62:2 quotes the Rambam's opinion as halachah.

Nevertheless, the Mishnah Berurah (62:3) points out that although the halachah is indeed that one may recite the Shema, grace after meals, the silent Amidah, and Kiddush on Shabbat in any language, at present, it is highly preferable to say them all in Hebrew. This is even the case for someone who does not understand Hebrew since a proper translation is very difficult, and the true meaning of the prayers will be lost. He points out that certain words (e.g., totafot) are indeed impossible to translate.

11

One who reads [the Shema] out of order does not fulfill his obligation. This refers to the order of the verses. However, were one to reverse the order of the sections, even though it is not permitted, I hold that he does fulfill his obligation, since these sections are not sequential in the Torah.

To recite a verse and then repeat it again is improper. One who reads a word and then repeats it, such as one who recites Shema, Shema, should be silenced.

יא

הקורא למפרע לא יצא בד"א בסדר הפסוקים אבל אם הקדים פרשה לפרשה אף ע"פ שאינו רשאי אני אומר שיצא לפי שאינה סמוכה לה בתורה קרא פסוק וחזר וקראו פעם שנייה הרי זה מגונה קרא מלה אחת וכפלה כגון שקרא שמע שמע משתקין אותו:

One who reads [the Shema] out of order does not fulfill his obligation. This refers to the order of the verses. - The Mishnah (Berachot 15a) states that one who recites the Shema out of order does not fulfill his obligation. The Rambam understands this to refer only to placing verse 2 before verse 1, but not to placing section 2 before section 1, as he states in the continuation of this halacha.

However, were one to reverse the order of the sections, - described in Chapter 1, Halachah 2

even though it is not permitted - for the order established by our Sages should be followed

I hold - This expression implies that this is the Rambam's opinion although he has no definite support for it from our Sages' teachings.

that he does fulfill his obligation, since these sections are not sequential in the Torah. - i.e., the sections do not appear in the Shema in the same order as they are in the Torah itself.

To recite a verse and then repeat it again is improper. One who reads a word and then repeats it, such as one who recites Shema, Shema, should be silenced. - Berachot 33b distinguishes between one who repeats a whole verse and one who repeats the word Shema, as the Rambam discusses immediately after this.

A person who repeats a verse has acted improperly, but is not silenced. - Rashi explains that, although he has acted frivolously and has seemingly scorned the verse, he has not indicated the existence of two rulers with such a reading. In contrast, the repetition of Shema [or Modim (We thank You) - the examples cited explicitly in the Mishnah - appears to indicate that one is paying respect to two kings, 18וóח.

Rabbi Moshe Feinstein points out (Iggerot Moshe, Orach Chayim, Vol. II, Responsa 22) that even in the course of singing prayers, one should not repeat words as cantors are prone to do, even though it does not constitute an interruption per se.

12

If one reads intermittently, he fulfills his obligation, even if he pauses between each reading an amount of time sufficient to complete the entire Kri'at Shema.

This refers to the one who recites it in order. If one recites it while drowsy - i.e., not fully awake, but not fast asleep - he fulfills his obligation, as long as he was fully awake while reciting the first verse.

יב

קראה סירוגין יצא אפילו שהה בין סירוג לסירוג כדי לגמור את כולה יצא והוא שיקרא על הסדר קראה מתנמנם והוא מי שאינו ער ולא נרדם בשינה יצא ובלבד שיהיה ער בפסוק ראשון:

If one reads intermittently, - i.e., he recites part of the Shema and then stops, and then continues reciting, and stops again, etc.

he fulfills his obligation even if he pauses between each reading an amount of time sufficient to complete the entire Kri'at Shema. - This halachah is mentioned with regard to the reading of Megillat Esther on Purim in the Mishnah in Megillah 17a. In his commentary on that Mishnah, the Rambam explains that the one who reads intermittently fulfills his obligation even if he pauses long enough to finish the whole Megillah.

Berachot 24b applies that halachah not only to the reading of the Megillah, which is a Rabbinic ordinance, but also to the recitation of the Shema, which is a Torah obligation. See also Hilchot Shofar 3:5.

The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 65:1 quotes the Rambam's statements as halachah. The Ramah adds, however, that were one to be unavoidably detained during the recitation of the Shema for a period long enough to finish the entire Kri'at Shema, he must recite it again. Such an interruption is considered significant, since even if he had wanted to finish the Shema, he would have been unable to do so.

The Magen Avraham points out that the Ramah's position would apply only in the case that one were unavoidably detained by the need to relieve himself, or that he suddenly found himself in a place unfit for the recitation of Kri'at Shema. (The halachot concerning these laws are discussed in Chapter 3.)

This refers to the one who recites it in order. - as required by the previous halachah.

If one recites it while drowsy - i.e., not fully awake, but not fast asleep - he fulfills his obligation - See Berachot 13b.

as long as he was fully awake while reciting the first verse. - i.e., in order that he recite the first verse with the intense concentration required by Halachah 3.

13

One who is unsure whether or not he recited the Shema, should recite it with the blessings before and after it. However, if he is sure that he recited the Shema, but is in doubt regarding whether he recited the blessings before and after it, he need not recite the blessings again.

A person who made a mistake while reciting [the Shema] should return to the point of his mistake. If one becomes confused and forgets which section he has just completed, he should return to the first section - i.e., "And you shall love God, your Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:5).

יג

ספק קרא קריאת שמע ספק לא קרא חוזר וקורא ומברך לפניה ולאחריה אבל אם ידע שקרא ונסתפק לו אם בירך לפניה ולאחריה או לא בירך אינו חוזר ומברך קרא וטעה יחזור למקום שטעה נעלם ממנו בין פרשה לפרשה ואינו יודע אי זו פרשה השלים ואי זו צריך להתחיל חוזר לפרשה ראשונה שהוא ואהבת את ה' אלהיך וגו':

One who is unsure whether or not he recited the Shema - Berachot 21a records a disagreement between Rabbi Yehudah and Rabbi Elazar. Rabbi Yehudah says that one who is doubtful regarding whether or not he recited the Shema need not read it again, since Kri'at Shema is a Rabbinical ordinance and we follow the rule a doubt in a Rabbinical ordinance leads to a lenient response.

Rabbi Elazar says that he must recite the Shema in such a situation of doubt because Kri'at Shema is a Torah obligation. Therefore, the principle - ספק דאורייתא לחומרא [a doubt regarding a Torah Law leads to a strict response] - should be followed.

Rabbenu Yitzchak Alfasi and Rabbenu Asher also follow Rabbi Elazar's opinion.

should recite it with the blessings before and after it. - The Rashba in Responsum 320 explains that although the blessings are of Rabbinic origin and, therefore, we should not require one to say them in a situation of doubt (see above, לקולא ספק דרבנן), the proper recitation of the Shema is inseparable from its blessings. Therefore, since we obligate one in doubt to recite the Shema, this entails the recitation of the Shema in its normal fashion - i.e., with its blessings. (See Kessef Mishneh.)

However, if he is sure that he recited the Shema but is in doubt regarding whether he recited the blessings before and after it, he need not recite the blessings again. - Since he has definitely fulfilled the Torah obligation of Kri'at Shema, we invoke the aforementioned rule of לקולא ספק דרבנן with regard to the blessings, which alone are of Rabbinic origin. (See Hilchot Berachot 8:12.)

A person who made a mistake while reciting [the Shema] - i.e., if one skipped over or mispronounced a word or verse

should return to the point of his mistake. - and then continue to read in order, from that verse until the end of Kri'at Shema, in accordance with Halachah 11 in this chapter. See Tosefta, Berachot 2:4.

If one becomes confused and forgets which section he has just completed - i.e., finding himself at a point where it is natural to pause (e.g., between the first section and the second), he becomes confused and forgets exactly what he has finished saying and where he must resume reading.

he should return to the first section - i.e., "And you shall love God, your Lord" (Deuteronomy 6:5) - Berachot 16a states that when one errs in the middle of a section, he returns to the beginning of the section. Were he to become confused between sections, he returns to the first section.

Rashi explains that returning to the first section means to the pause between the first two sections, i.e., one would begin reading from ViHayah Im Shamoa, the second section in Kri'at Shema. The Tur, Orach Chayim 64 also explains the halachah in this fashion.

The Rambam, however, understands that the Gemara obligates one to return to the beginning of the first section. The Beit Yosef explains that both Rashi and the Rambam agree that one must return to the point of the first pause in Kri'at Shema. The Rambam, however, holds that the first pause one makes while reading the Shema is not between the first two sections. Rather, it is after the recitation of ברוך שם כבוד מלכותו לעולם ועד. This signifies the transition between one's acceptance of the kingship of Heaven and the beginning of the recitation of the Shema.

The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 61:14 states the halachah that one must pause between ברוך שם and ואהבת. However, its decision regarding the law under discussion (ibid. 64:3) reflects Rashi's position.

14

A person who errs in the middle of a section and is unaware of where he paused, should return to the beginning of that section.

One who recited וכתבתם (uch'tavtam) but does not know whether or not he recited uch'tavtam of [the section of] "Shema" or of [the section of] והיה אם שמוע (And if you will listen), should return to uch'tavtam of "Shema." However, if his doubt arises only after having recited למען ירבו ימיכם (In order that your days be multiplied) (Deuteronomy 11:21), he need not return, because [we assume] he has recited in accordance with the natural pattern of his speech.

יד

טעה באמצע הפרק ואינו יודע להיכן פסק חוזר לראש הפרק היה קורא וכתבתם ואינו יודע אם הוא בוכתבתם של שמע או בוכתבתם שבוהיה אם שמוע חוזר לוכתבתם של שמע ואם נסתפק לו אחר שקרא למען ירבו ימיכם אינו חוזר שעל הרגל לשונו הוא הולך:

A person who errs in the middle of a section, but is unaware of where he paused - See the commentary on the previous halachah which discusses this expression.

should return to the beginning of that section. - This is so only if he is completely unaware of where he erred. However, were he to be absolutely sure that he recited part of a particular section, he should start reciting again from after that point (Kessef Mishneh).

One who recited (uch'tavtam) - This halachah is found in the continuation of Berachot 16a, quoted above.

but does not know whether he recited uch'tavtam of [the section of] "Shema" - i.e., of the first section, which begins with Shema Yisrael.

or of [the section of] ViHayah Im Shamoa, (And if you will listen), - i.e., the second section of Kri'at Shema, which begins with these words.

should return to uch'tavtam of "Shema." - In their commentary to the Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 64:4, both the Taz and the Magen Avraham explain that this problem does not arise with the word וקשרתם "And you shall bind," which also appears in both of the first two sections of Kri'at Shema.

In the first section, this word is written with a kamatz וקשרתם (And you [singular] shall bind them), whereas in the second section it is written with a segol וקשרתם (And you [plural] shall bind...)."

However, if his doubt arises only after having recited למען ירבו ימיכם (In order that your days be multiplied, Deuteronomy 11:21), he need not return, because [we assume] he has recited in accordance with the natural pattern of his speech. - i.e., we assume he recited למען in its proper place, at the end of the second section of Shema.

15

[The following rules apply when] one encounters other people or is approached by them while reciting the Shema. If he is between sections, he should stop and greet those he is obligated to honor - e.g., his father, his teacher or anyone greater than he in learning. He may return the greetings of any person who initiates the friendly exchange.

טו

היה קורא ופגע באחרים או פגעו בו אחרים אם היה בין פרק לפרק פוסק ומתחיל ושואל שלום מי שהוא חייב בכבודו כגון שפגע באביו או רבו או מי שהוא גדול ממנו בחכמה ומשיב שלום לכל אדם שנתן לו שלום:

[The following rules apply when] one encounters other people or is approached by them while reciting the Shema. - Having discussed in the previous halachot the proper reaction to unintentional interruptions in Kri'at Shema, the Rambam now discusses when one must purposefully interrupt his reading of the Shema in order to greet people or respond to their greetings.

These halachot are based on the Mishnah (Berachot 13a):

"Between sections, one may initiate greetings out of respect, and respond. In the middle [of a section], one may initiate greetings out of fear, and respond," these are the words of Rabbi Meir.
Rabbi Yehudah says: "In the middle [of a section] one may initiate contact out of respect, and respond out of fear. Between sections, one may initiate out of respect and respond to anyone's greeting."

If he is between sections, - This term is defined in Halachah 17.

he should stop and greet those he is obligated to honor - i.e., he may initiate the contact. This follows Rabbi Yehudah's position in the Mishnah quoted above.

e.g., his father, - The Rambam explains the term mipnai hakavod (out of respect) used in the Mishnah as referring to those one is obligated to honor according to Torah Law; i.e., one's parents in response to the command "Honor your father and your mother" (Exodus 20:12)...

his teacher - i.e., one who taught him Torah. Hilchot Talmud Torah 5:1 states:

Just as a person is commanded to honor his father and fear him, so too, is he obligated to honor and fear his teacher. Indeed, his teacher deserves more than his father. His father brought him into the life of this world, while his teacher... brings him to the life of the world to come.

or anyone greater than he in learning. - Hilchot Talmud Torah 6:1 states:

It is a mitzvah to glorify any Torah Sage even though he is not one's teacher.

16

If one is in the middle [of a section], he may stop and initiate an exchange of greetings only with someone of whom he is afraid - e.g., a king or tyrant. However, he may return the greetings of those he is obligated to honor - e.g., his father or his teacher.

טז

היה קורא באמצע הפרשה אינו פוסק ומתחיל לשאול אלא בשלום מי שהוא מתיירא ממנו כגון מלך או אנס וכיוצא בהן אבל מי שהוא חייב בכבודו כגון אביו או רבו אם נתן לו שלום תחלה פוסק ומשיב לו שלום:

If one is in the middle [of a section], he may stop - This applies even when one is in the middle of a verse (Jerusalem Talmud, mentioned by Rabbenu Asher.)

Rabbenu Manoach explains this idea. After making an interruption, one should continue reading where he left off only when the break does not entail the interruption of a single idea. However, when a person is forced to make an interruption after stating only half of an idea, he should repeat the whole verse after the completion of his greeting lest he create a misconception.

In the middle of the verses, שמע ישראל or Baruch Shem Kavod…, one may not interrupt at any time unless one's life is in danger (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 66:1).

and initiate an exchange of greetings only with someone of whom he is afraid - e.g., a king or tyrant. - The term מפני היראה (out of fear) used in the abovementioned Mishnah refers to a king or tyrant - i.e., someone of whom one is physically afraid.

Rashi explains fear as referring to someone who one is afraid will kill him. Rabbenu Asher takes issue with Rashi's explanation of fear. He points out that it is unnecessary for the Mishnah to inform us that in the case of פיקוח נפש (a life-threatening situation), one may interrupt Kri'at Shema. Even violation of the Shabbat is permitted in such instances.

Therefore, Rabbenu Asher explains "out of fear" as referring to one's father or rabbi: איש את אימו ואת אביו תיראו (Every person must revere his mother and father) (Leviticus 19:3). We also learn in Pirkei Avot 4:12 and Pesachim 108a that the fear of one's rabbi is similar to the fear of Heaven. See also Hilchot Talmud Torah 5:1.

The Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 66:1 accepts Rashi's position regarding honor and Rabbenu Asher's interpretation of fear. He also mentions the Rambam's understanding of "out of fear," as referring to a king or tyrant - this refers to one who is likely to cause pain or sorrow (Kessef Mishneh).

However, he may return the greetings of those he is obligated to honor - e.g., his father or his teacher. - See the commentary on the previous halachah.

The Mishnah Berurah, Orach Chayim 66:1 explains that at present, one should never greet [or return greetings of] anyone during Kri'at Shema, or even during פסוקי דזמרא, the verses of praise that precede Kri'at Shema and its blessings, unless it is clear that such a person will be insulted. Since people do not expect one to interrupt Kri'at Shema in order to greet them, such an insult is extremely rare indeed.

One should, however, interrupt at any point [except in the middle of the verses שמע ישראל and ברוך שם כבוד] in order to respond to Kaddish (יהא שמיה רבא), Kedushah (קדוש קדוש קדוש), Barchu and Modim. (See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 66:3, the Mishnah Berurah there and Shulchan Aruch HaRav, Orach Chayim 66:2.)

In his responsa, the Rambam also forbids the inclusion of hymns within the blessings [as is Ashkenazic custom on festivals], considering them as an interruption.

17

These are the intervals between the sections: between the first blessing and the second; between the second [blessing] and Shema; between the first and second sections of Kri'at Shema; between the second and third sections of Kri'at Shema.

Between these sections, one initiates an exchange with one whom it is his duty to honor and responds to the greetings of anyone. However, the interval between the end of the third section of Kri'at Shema and [the paragraph beginning with] Emet v'yatziv is considered the middle of a section, and one may interrupt only to greet one of whom one is afraid, or to respond to the greetings of someone one is obligated to honor.

יז

ואלו הן בין הפרקים בין ברכה ראשונה לשנייה בין שנייה לשמע בין שמע לוהיה אם שמוע בין והיה אם שמוע לויאמר בין הפרקים האלו שואל מפני הכבוד ומשיב שלום לכל אדם אבל בין ויאמר לאמת ויציב הרי זה כאמצע הפרק ולא יפסיק אלא לשאול מפני היראה ולהשיב מפני הכבוד:


These are the intervals between the sections: between the first blessing and the second; between the second [blessing] and "Shema" - This decision is based on the principle that the blessings before the Shema - though necessary to develop the meditative consciousness necessary for the correct intention during Shema - are not considered as directly related to the Shema itself.

Accordingly, though it is forbidden to make an interruption between the recitation of a blessing before a mitzvah and the actual fulfillment of the mitzvah, these interruptions are permitted between the blessings before the Shema and the Shema. Some communities maintain that the blessings before the Shema are similar to the blessings before other mitzvot and do not allow such interruptions.

between the first and second sections of Kri'at Shema; between the second and third sections of Kri'at Shema. Between these sections, one initiates an exchange with one whom it is his duty to honor and responds to the greetings of anyone. - as explained above in Halachah 15.

However, the interval between the end of the third section of Kri'at Shema and [the paragraph beginning with] Emet v'yatziv is considered the middle of a section, - Berachot 14b explains the significance of the proximity of the end of Kri'at Shema, א-להיכם אני ה', to the word Emet. This is based on a verse in Jeremiah 10:10 א-להיכם אמת ‘ה and proclaims that "God, your Lord, is true." Thus, these words do not represent a break between sections, but rather a continuum.

and one may interrupt only to greet one of whom one is afraid, or to respond to the greetings of someone one is obligated to honor. - as explained in the previous halachah.

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