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Bedtime Shema

Bedtime Shema

All’s Well That Ends Well


Psychologists who study dreams tell us that the last five conscious minutes of our day determine what we’ll be dreaming about at night. And we all know that how we slept at night determines a lot of how we perform the next day.

That’s one good reason to get into the “Bedtime Shema” routine. Find it in your prayer book (or here). Do it like this:


Don’t try to rush through this like you did rush-hour traffic. Pause. Let go of the maddening thoughts of the day. Empty your mind.


Let the highlights of your day flash through your mindLet the highlights of your day flash through your mind. Look for the sparks of beauty you came to this world to find. Discard the dross, the mess-ups. Next time, you’ll do it right.


You want those mess-ups to be forgotten. The best way to accomplish that is by forgetting the mess-ups of others that affected you. As Rava, the Talmudic sage, would say, “Those who ignore the impulse to get even, all their sins are ignored in the heavenly record.”

That’s why we preface the Bedtime Shema with a short paragraph composed by Rabbi Isaac Luria, declaring our forgiveness for all who may have slighted us.


Now you say the Shema Yisrael, declaring that behind all that happened today there is only One G‑d. Say it with intense mental focus and it cleanses the soul.


Ponder G‑d’s kindness that allows you to start each day anew. Say the vidui (confession) prayer that follows the Shema. Move your soul closer to Him and further from that which ties you down.


Finish with the Hamapil blessing, requesting a peaceful night, entrusting your soul into G‑d’s faithful hands, and praising Him for that which you witnessed today, that His glory illuminates the entire world. Once you’ve said that blessing, avoid food or drink until you’ve reawakened.

Having difficulty falling asleep? Try saying, thinking or visualizing the words of Shema.

More Info
For much more about the bedtime Shema and other bedtime rituals, see Prepare for Takeoff and Bedtime Countdown.
Illustrations by Yehuda Lang. To view more artwork by this artist, click here.
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Joshua Israel Nigeria June 8, 2017

This serves as a reminder note as I mostly fell asleep fast after returning very late from work Reply

Manny via June 7, 2017

I'm looking for the Shema prayer… Will you post a link… I'm sure it's more than just that opening line … Is there also a PDF of the Prayer book...thanks Reply Staff June 7, 2017
in response to Manny:

Hi Manny there is a link posted in the second paragraph above, look for the words "Find it in your prayer book" Reply

Anonymous San Diego, California October 7, 2013

thank you so much, I needed to be reminded and learn about bed time and the Shema. Reply

אריה Bayside August 14, 2013

source: i.e the opening line. it needs sourcing, please. Reply

Anonymous February 26, 2013

Bed time Shema Thanks 4 sharing.!! Reply

Joel Fullerton, CA September 4, 2012

Think you are too busy to take the time for it? We all live very busy lives and sometimes we find ourselves thinking that we just don't have the time for all our prayers, I know I fight this myself. I just reflect on the wasted minutes each breaks at work, lunch break, read your prayer book instead of picking up the news paper. How about that movie you watched, did you recite all your prayers that day that you took the 2 hours to watch it? I know that I often find myself looking for the excuse of being too busy however if I really reflect on my life any other relaxing times are wasted minutes that should have been in prayer. Our lives belong to G-d, he allows us to live by returning our soul to us every morning. The least that we could do is return the favor of prayer. Reply

joshua israel orizu anambra nigeria, nigeria May 25, 2012

bed time shema Your analogy is beautiful one. I beleive that IF it is said meditatively and with open heart the peason wil wake up with clean slate shalom yisrael Reply

Fishel Brodsky Yonkers, NY May 2, 2012

The Bedtime Shema I am a maintanance worker in a public school who deals with 800 different personalities so what better to end a day and start a new then by saying The Bedtime Shema and praise G-D for all they he done
You can have a clean slate every morning if you choose so. Reply

Menachem Posner for Montreal, QC May 23, 2011

Regarding repeating three times: The customs regarding the various verses in the Shama that are customarily repeated thrice in the Shema are found in the various siddurim compiled throughout the ages--many of them reflecting kabbalistic themes. Reply

Flinkstein London, UK May 22, 2011 Brilliant. Reply

Menachem Posner for Montreal, Quebec May 20, 2011

To Josie You can find the vidui in a standard siddur (prayerbook). Do you have access to one? Reply

Josie Richmond, Tx May 18, 2011

This is wonderful information. but what is the vidui prayer and what are the words to this prayer? Reply

Jan Marion, IN/USA May 16, 2011

Bedtime Shema I suffer from severe chronic pain and sometimes sleep does not come easily, however some time ago my Rabbi suggested I meditate on my day and really think about what I am saying. I find now that I fall asleep with the Shema im my mind and I sleep longer and more peacefully. Reply

Marion Miami, Florida May 10, 2011

Bedtime Schema Thank you for this timely article. I have been suffering with a form of insomnia for some time now. I have found that singing the Schema has helped a bit, but I believe what other advice you have given will help even more so. Reply

Wendy kibbutz, Israel May 10, 2011

Bedtime Shema I say it every night, but you gave me a new way of looking at it.
Why are there parts that we repeat 3 times? Reply

Anonymous May 9, 2011

the Prayers Thank you so much for this text!!!

I LOVE prayers, though I end up making my own, unless I have a Siddur with me.

I would love to know where to obtain the text in English and the phonetic pronunciation of the Hebrew prayers. Reply

Pam Beni Israel May 9, 2011

Thank you. Yasher Koach! If we could really do this, what a difference it would make. Am Israel Chai!! Reply

Menachem Posner for Montreal, QC via April 11, 2011

RE: Evening Shama Ideally you should recite the evening Shema before chatzot, the halachic midnight. However, if you did not do so, you may say it all the way until dawn (amud hashachar). In cases when it was not possible (such as illness) one may say the evening Shema as late as just before daybreak--but no later. Reply

Steve King Rochester, NY via April 8, 2011

Evening Shama What is the latest time that you can recite the Shama in the evening Reply

Raziela September 5, 2010

Shema I loved that by saying the Shema we affirm that behind all the seeming plurality of the day there is only One G-d!

You know why I love Hebrew, because its so condensed.

bedtime Reply

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