SECTION 60 Laws Relating to the Blessings for the Recitation of the Shema and Whether this Recitation Requires Concentration. (1–5)

סימן ס דִּין בְּרָכוֹת לִקְרִיאַת שְׁמַע וְאִם צְרִיכִים כַּוָּנָה וּבוֹ ה' סְעִיפִים:

1 Our Sages differed with regard to the opening phrase of the second blessing [before the Shema].1 Some say [that it should begin with the words] Ahavah Rabbah (“With abounding love”) and others say [it should begin with] Ahavas Olam Ahavtanu (“With everlasting love You have loved us”). The Geonim decided the issue: Ahavah Rabbah should be said in the morning and Ahavas Olam in the evening. This is the custom in these countries.2

Why does this blessing not begin with Baruch... (“Blessed [are You, G‑d...])? Because it follows in direct sequence to the blessing Yotzer Or, and the phrase Baruch... [which begins that blessing] is sufficient for it.3

א בְּרָכָה שְׁנִיָּה נֶחְלְקוּ חֲכָמִים בִּפְתִיחָתָהּ,1 יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים "אַהֲבָה רַבָּה", וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים "אַהֲבַת עוֹלָם אֲהַבְתָּנוּ כו'."א וְהַגְּאוֹנִים הִכְרִיעוּב לוֹמַר בְּשַׁחֲרִית "אַהֲבָה רַבָּה" וּבְעַרְבִית "אַהֲבַת עוֹלָם". וְכֵן נוֹהֲגִין בִּמְדִינוֹת אֵלּוּ.ג,2

וְלָמָּה אֵין בְּרָכָה זוֹ פּוֹתַחַת בְּ"בָרוּךְ"? מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהִיא סְמוּכָהד לְ"יוֹצֵר אוֹר" וְדַי לָהּ בְּ"בָרוּךְ" שֶׁבְּ"יוֹצֵר אוֹר":ה,3

2 The blessings are not indispensable elements of the Shema. If one recited it without its blessings, he has fulfilled his obligation to recite the Shema,4 [but] he should then recite the blessings later without reciting the Shema. For the blessings of the Shema do not resemble the blessings for the other mitzvos, which are recited only before the mitzvah is performed.5 [This is indicated by the fact that in these blessings,] one does not [praise G‑d] “Who sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to recite the Shema,” as was explained in sec. 59[:4]. Nevertheless, it is desirable to recite the Shema again together with its blessings.6 If one did not recite the Shema again and did not recite its blessings, he has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation to recite the Shema. [This applies] whether it was an individual or a congregation that acted in this manner.

ב הַבְּרָכוֹת אֵינָן מְעַכְּבוֹת אֶת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע, שֶׁאִם קְרָאָהּ בְּלֹא בִּרְכוֹתֶיהָ – יָצָא יְדֵי חוֹבַת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע,ו,4 וְחוֹזֵר וְקוֹרֵא הַבְּרָכוֹת בְּלֹא קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע,ז שֶׁבִּרְכוֹת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע אֵינָן כְּבִרְכוֹת שְׁאָר מִּצְווֹת שֶׁאֵין מְבָרְכִין אוֹתָן אֶלָּא עוֹבֵר לַעֲשִׂיָּתָן,5 שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵינוֹ מְבָרֵךְ "אֲשֶׁר קִדְּשָׁנוּ בְּמִצְוֹתָיו וְצִוָּנוּ לִקְרוֹת אֶת שְׁמַע",ח וּכְמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן נ"ט.ט וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן טוֹב לַחֲזֹר וְלִקְרוֹת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע עִם הַבְּרָכוֹת.י,6 וְאִם לֹא חָזַר וְקָרָא לֹא הַקְרִיאַת שְׁמַע וְלֹא הַבְּרָכוֹת – יָצָא יְדֵי חוֹבַת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע,יא בֵּין יָחִיד שֶׁעָשָׂה כֵּן בֵּין צִבּוּר:יב

3 The order of the blessings is not an indispensable requirement. If one recited the second blessing before the first, he has [nevertheless] fulfilled his obligation [to recite] the blessings.

The second blessing does not begin with Baruch... and [thus does not mention G‑d’s sovereignty]. Although, [as a rule,] any blessing that does not recall G‑d’s sovereignty is not a blessing,7 [this case is exceptional]. Since it was ordained that it be recited in direct sequence to another blessing,8 [G‑d’s] sovereignty is not mentioned at its beginning even when it is recited independently.

ג סֵדֶר הַבְּרָכוֹת אֵינָם מְעַכְּבוֹת, שֶׁאִם הִקְדִּים שְׁנִיָּה לָרִאשׁוֹנָה – יָצָא יְדֵי חוֹבַת בְּרָכוֹת.יג וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַשְּׁנִיָּה אֵינָהּ פּוֹתַחַת בְּ"בָרוּךְ" וְכָל בְּרָכָה שֶׁאֵין בָּהּ מַלְכוּת – אֵינָהּ בְּרָכָה,יד,7 מִכָּל מָקוֹם כֵּיוָן שֶׁנִתַּקְנָה סְמוּכָה לַחֲבֶרְתָּהּ,טו,8 אַף כְּשֶׁקּוֹרֵא אוֹתָהּ בִּפְנֵי עַצְמָהּ – אֵין בָּהּ שֵׁם וּמַלְכוּת בִּפְתִיחָתָהּ:טז

4 The remembrance of [(a)] the [Giving of the Torah at] Mount Sinai, [(b)] the [attack] by Amalek, [(c)] Miriam’s [punishment for her criticism of Moshe] and [(d)] [the sin of] the Golden Calf are all positive commandments explicit in the Torah.9 Some authorities maintain that it is a mitzvah to recall the Shabbos every day.10 It is desirable that these [events] be recalled in proximity to the Shema; [hence they are alluded to in the blessing that precedes it.]11

When one says U’Vanu Vacharta (“and You chose us”), he should recall the Giving of the Torah;12 VeKeiravtanu (“and You drew us close”) alludes to Mount Sinai; LeShimcha HaGadol (“to Your great name”) — this alludes to the attack by Amalek, for the Divine name will not be complete until the seed [of Amalek] is obliterated;13 LeHodos Lecha (“to thankfully acknowledge You”) — this alludes to the incident involving Miriam, for the mouth was created to give thanks [to G‑d] and not to gossip.

The phrase U’Zechartem es Kol Mitzvos A‑donai (“and you shall recall all the commandments of G‑d”)14 alludes to Shabbos, which is equivalent to all the mitzvos.15

There is an authority who says that one should recall the Golden Calf while saying (LeYachedcha) BeAhavah (“to proclaim Your unity with love”),16 i.e., in contrast to those who made the Golden Calf at that time who did not [act] with love towards the Holy One, blessed be He.

ד זְכִירַת מַעֲמַד הַר סִינַייז וּמַעֲשֵׂה עֲמָלֵקיח וּמַעֲשֵּׂה מִרְיָםיט וּמַעֲשֵׂה הָעֵגֶלכ הֵן מִּצְווֹת עֲשֵׂה שֶׁל תּוֹרָה.9 וְגַם זְכִירַת שַׁבָּת יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִים שֶׁמִּצְוָתָהּ בְּכָל יוֹם.כא,10 וְטוֹב לְזָכְרָן אֵצֶל קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע,כב,11 שֶׁכְּשֶׁיֹּאמַר "וּבָנוּ בָחַרְתָּ" – יִזְכֹּר מַתַּן תּוֹרָה,12 "וְקֵרַבְתָּנוּ" – לְהַר סִינַי, "לְשִׁמְךָ הַגָּדוֹל" – מַעֲשֵׂה עֲמָלֵק, שֶׁאֵין הַשֵּׁם שָׁלֵם עַד שֶׁיִּמָּחֶה זַרְעוֹ,כג,13 "לְהוֹדוֹת לְךָ" – הַפֶּה לֹא נִבְרָא אֶלָּא לְהוֹדוֹת וְלֹא לְדַבֵּר לְשׁוֹן הָרָע, וְזֶהוּ זְכִירַת מַעֲשֵׂה מִרְיָם, "וּזְכַרְתֶּם אֶת כָּל מִּצְווֹת ה'"14 – זוֹ הִיא שַׁבָּת שֶׁשְּׁקוּלָה כְּנֶגֶד כָּל הַמִּצְווֹת,כד,15 וּמַעֲשֵׂה הָעֵגֶל – יֵשׁ מִי שֶׁאוֹמֵרכה שֶׁיִּזְכֹּר כְּשֶׁאוֹמֵר "(לְיַחֶדְךָ) בְּאַהֲבָה",כו,16 וְלֹא כְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה שֶׁעָשׂוּ אֶת הָעֵגֶל שֶׁלֹּא הָיָה בְּאַהֲבָה עִם הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא:

5 When observing any mitzvah, one must be intent on fulfilling his obligation17 by performing the mitzvah at hand. If one performed it without intending to fulfill his obligation, but rather in the course of acting casually, without any particular intent,18 or [if he performed it] for another intent, not for the sake of the mitzvah, then according to Scriptural law he has not fulfilled his obligation.

Some authorities, however, maintain that [after the fact] the requirement to be intent [on fulfilling one’s obligation] when observing the mitzvos is not indispensable; after the fact, even if one performed them casually, without any particular intent, he has fulfilled his obligation. The halachah follows the first opinion.19

To what does the above apply? To Scriptural commandments.20 With regard to Rabbinic commandments, some authorities maintain that the halachah rules that [after the fact, such an] intent is not indispensable. Other authorities differ, as will be explained in sec. 475[:29].21 The recitation of the Shema is a Scriptural commandment and according to all views must be observed with the required intent.

Even according to those who maintain that even with regard to Scriptural commandments, fulfilling one’s obligation is not conditional on one’s intention to do so, with regard to the recitation of the Shema [a different requirement remains]: one must understand what he is saying. The intention which [after the event] is dispensable is the intention to fulfill one’s obligation. One must, however, concentrate on the matter at hand; i.e., he should not think of other matters, so that he accept [the yoke of] the Kingdom of Heaven with full-hearted commitment. [This mitzvah] is not comparable to other mitzvos, i.e., commandments requiring action. With regard to them, as long as one performed the mitzvah, even if he did not intend [to fulfill his obligation thereby], he did do the action required by the mitzvah;22 it is only that it was not done in the choicest manner. Needless to say, if one did intend to fulfill his obligation while observing [one of those other mitzvos], all authorities agree that he has indeed fulfilled it, even if intermittently he had other things on his mind. The recitation of the Shema and Shemoneh Esreh, however, focus respectively on the acceptance of the Kingdom of Heaven and the sequential praises [of G‑d];23 hence it is inappropriate that one’s heart should be distracted towards other matters.

All the above applies with regard to the first verse of the Shema, i.e., Shema Yisrael,24 which is the main expression of one’s acceptance of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the first blessing of Shemoneh Esreh. From the verse VeAhavta onward, [a lack of] concentrated intent does not — after the fact — disqualify one’s recitation. Even if, at the time for the recitation of the Shema one was [merely] reading the Torah scroll or checking the scribal writing of these passages, he has fulfilled his obligation even though he did not have that intent, provided he concentrated while reciting the first verse.25

(The26 rationale is that the fundamental [obligation] to recite the Shema involves only the first verse, for that is a Scriptural obligation. [With regard to] the remainder, which was ordained by the Sages, concentrated intention was required only as an initial preference. [After the fact,] if one recited the remainder without intention, he need not recite it again, regardless of whether he read it without the intent to fulfill his obligation or without concentrating on the meaning.

(Even according to the authorities who maintain that even mitzvos of Rabbinic origin require that one have the intent to fulfill his obligation, the recitation of [the remainder of] the Shema [is,] nevertheless, [an exception]. For what is required here is not the performance of an action, but the acceptance of the Kingdom of Heaven and the yoke of the mitzvos — and this acceptance depends on understanding the concepts [of which those passages speak]. Therefore, since [our Sages] did not require one to recite the passages again because his concentration on the meaning was lacking, they also did not require him to repeat them because he lacked the intent to fulfill his obligation. What value could there be in repeating words spoken without any feeling? It is enough that they required him to recite them every day, for this will lead him on most occasions to accept [these concepts] in his heart. For at the outset they did require that one concentrate; it is only that if it so happened that he did not concentrate [while reciting the Shema], they did not require that he repeat it.

(By contrast, according to those27 who maintain that [reciting the passage(s) from] VeAhavta onward is also required by Scriptural Law, one must intend to fulfill one’s obligation [when reciting] everything that Scriptural Law [requires]. Nevertheless, all authorities agree that, after the fact, concentrating on the meaning is an indispensable requirement for the first verse alone.)

ה כָּל הַמִּצְווֹת צְרִיכוֹת כַּוָּנָה לָצֵאת יְדֵי חוֹבָה17 בַּעֲשִׂיַּת אוֹתָהּ מִצְוָה.כז וְאִם עֲשָׂאָהּ בְּלֹא כַּוָּנָה לָצֵאת יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ אֶלָּא כְּמִתְעַסֵּק בְּעָלְמָא18 אוֹ לְכַוָּנָה אַחֶרֶת וְלֹא לְשֵׁם אוֹתָהּ מִצְוָה – לֹא יָצָא יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ מִן הַתּוֹרָה.כח וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםכט שֶׁמִּצְווֹת אֵין צְרִיכוֹת כַּוָּנָה, וְאַף הַמִּתְעַסֵּק יָצָא בְּדִיעֲבַד.ל וַהֲלָכָה כַּסְּבָרָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָה.לא,19 בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים? בְּמִּצְווֹת שֶׁל תּוֹרָה,20 אֲבָל בְּשֶׁל דִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים – יֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםלב שֶׁהֲלָכָה שֶׁאֵין צָרִיךְ כַּוָּנָה. וְיֵשׁ חוֹלְקִין,לג כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן תע"ה.לד,21 וּקְרִיאַת שְׁמַע הִיא מִן הַתּוֹרָה,לה וּצְרִיכָה כַּוָּנָה לְדִבְרֵי הַכֹּל.

וְאַף לְהָאוֹמְרִים שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ מִּצְווֹת שֶׁל תּוֹרָה אֵין צָרִיךְ כַּוָּנָה, מִכָּל מָקוֹם בִּקְרִיאַת שְׁמַע צָרִיךְ כַּוָּנַת הַלֵּב שֶׁיָּבִין מַה שֶּׁהוּא אוֹמֵר בְּפִיו,לו וְלֹא אָמְרוּ שֶׁאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ כַּוָּנָה אֶלָּא בְּכַוָּנָה לָצֵאת יְדֵי חוֹבָה, אֲבָל צָרִיךְ כַּוָּנַת הָעִנְיָן, כְּלוֹמַר שֶׁלֹּא יְהַרְהֵר בִּדְבָרִים אֲחֵרִים, כְּדֵי שֶׁיְּקַבֵּל מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם בְּהַסְכָּמַת הַלֵּב. וְאֵינוֹ דּוֹמֶה לִשְׁאָר מִּצְווֹת שֶׁהֵן מִּצְווֹת עֲשִׂיָּה, וְכָל שֶׁעָשָׂה מִצְוָתָהּ אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא כִּוֵּן לָהּ – הֲרֵי קִיֵּם מִצְוַת עֲשִׂיָּתָהּ,22 אֶלָּא שֶׁאֵין זֶה מִן הַמֻּבְחָר, וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן אִם כִּוֵּן לָצֵאת אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִרְהֵר בָּהּ בָּאֶמְצַע בִּדְבָרִים אֲחֵרִים – יָצָא לְדִבְרֵי הַכֹּל.לז אֲבָל קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע וּתְפִלָּה שֶׁהֵן קַבָּלַת עֹל מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִםלח אוֹ סִדּוּר שְׁבָחִיםלט,23 – אֵינוֹ בְּדִין שֶׁיִּהְיֶה לְבָבוֹ פּוֹנֶה לִדְבָרִים אֲחֵרִים.מ

וְכָל זֶה בְּפָסוּק רִאשׁוֹן שֶׁל קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע שֶׁהוּא "שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל",מא,24 שֶׁהוּא עִקָּר קַבָּלַת מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם.מב וְכֵן בִּבְרָכָה רִאשׁוֹנָה שֶׁל תְּפִלָּה.מג אֲבָל מִ"וְאָהַבְתָּ" וְאֵילָךְ – אֵין הַכַּוָּנָה מְעַכֶּבֶת בְּדִיעֲבַד. וַאֲפִלּוּ הָיָה קוֹרֵא בַּתּוֹרָה אוֹ מַגִּיהַּ הַפָּרָשִׁיּוֹת אֵלּוּמד בְּעוֹנַת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע – יָצָא יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ, אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלֹּא נִתְכַוֵּן לָצֵאת יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ.מה וְהוּא שֶׁנִתְכַוֵּן בְּפָסוּק רִאשׁוֹן25 (א) (מִפְּנֵי26 שֶׁעִקָּר קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע אֵינָה אֶלָּא פָּסוּק רִאשׁוֹן בִּלְבַדמו שֶׁהוּא מִן הַתּוֹרָה,מז וְהַשְּׁאָר שֶׁתִקְּנוּ חֲכָמִים לֹא הִצְרִיכוּ כַּוָּנָה אֶלָּא לְכַתְּחִלָּה, אֲבָל אִם קָרָא הַשְּׁאָר בְּלֹא כַּוָּנָה – אֵין צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר וְלִקְרוֹת, בֵּין שֶׁקָּרָא בְּלֹא כַּוָּנָה לָצֵאת בֵּין שֶׁלֹּא בְּכַוָּנַת הָעִנְיָן.

וְאַף לְהָאוֹמְרִים שֶׁאַף מִּצְווֹת שֶׁל דִּבְרֵי סוֹפְרִים צְרִיכִים כַּוָּנָה לָצֵאת, מִכָּל מָקוֹם בִּקְרִיאַת שְׁמַע כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵינָהּ מִצְוַת עֲשִׂיָּה אֶלָּא קַבָּלַת מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם וְעֹל מִּצְווֹת שֶׁהוּא דָּבָר הַתָּלוּי בְּכַוָּנַת הָעִנְיָן, לְפִיכָךְ כֵּיוָן שֶׁלֹּא הִצְרִיכוּ לַחֲזֹר וְלִקְרוֹת מִפְּנֵי חֶסְרוֹן כַּוָּנַת הָעִנְיָן – לֹא הִצְרִיכוּ גַּם כֵּן לַחֲזֹר מִפְּנֵי חֶסְרוֹן כַּוָּנָה לָצֵאת, כִּי מַה בֶּצַע שֶׁיַּחֲזֹר לְדַבֵּר בְּלִי לֵב, וְדַי בְּמַה שֶּׁהִצְרִיכוּהוּ לִקְרוֹת בְּכָל יוֹם, שֶׁעַל יְדֵי כֵּן יָבוֹא גַּם כֵּן לְקַבָּלָה בַּלֵּב בְּרֹב הַפְּעָמִים, שֶׁהֲרֵי לְכַתְּחִלָּה הִצְרִיכוּ כַּוָּנָה, אֶלָּא שֶׁאִם אֵרַע מִקְרֶה שֶׁלֹּא נִתְכַוֵּן – לֹא הִטְרִיחוּ לַחֲזֹר.מח

אֲבָל לְהָאוֹמְרִים27 שֶׁמִּ"וְאָהַבְתָּ" וְאֵילָךְ הוּא גַּם כֵּן מִן הַתּוֹרָה – צָרִיךְ כַּוָּנָה לָצֵאת בְּכָל מַה שֶּׁהוּא מִן הַתּוֹרָה. אֲבָל כַּוָּנַת הָעִנְיָן דַּי בְּפָסוּק רִאשׁוֹן לְדִבְרֵי הַכֹּל בְּדִיעֲבַדמט):