Here's a great tip:
Enter your email address and we'll send you our weekly magazine by email with fresh, exciting and thoughtful content that will enrich your inbox and your life, week after week. And it's free.
Oh, and don't forget to like our facebook page too!
Contact Us

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.
© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
Sort By:
Discussion (23)
October 7, 2013
thank you so much, I needed to be reminded and learn about bed time and the Shema.
San Diego, California
August 14, 2013
i.e the opening line. it needs sourcing, please.
February 26, 2013
Bed time Shema
Thanks 4 sharing.!!
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.
Fullerton, CA
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
joshua israel orizu
anambra nigeria, nigeria
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.
Fishel Brodsky
Yonkers, NY
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.
Menachem Posner for
Montreal, QC
May 22, 2011
London, UK
May 20, 2011
To Josie
You can find the vidui in a standard siddur (prayerbook). Do you have access to one?
Menachem Posner for
Montreal, Quebec
May 18, 2011
This is wonderful information. but what is the vidui prayer and what are the words to this prayer?
Richmond, Tx