SECTION 63 [The License] to Sit During the Recitation of the Shema, but not to Sleep. (1–10)

סימן סג לֵישֵׁב בִּשְׁעַת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע וְשֶׁלֹּא יִישַׁן וּבוֹ י' סְעִיפִים:

1 A person may recite the Shema in whatever position he is, whether standing, sitting, lying down, walking, or riding on an animal, as implied by the phrase,1 “and while you are walking on [your] way.” If so, why does the verse state, “when you lie down and when you rise”? [To teach that the Shema must be recited] at the time people lie down and rise.2

Nevertheless, it is forbidden to recite the Shema when lying flat3 — either face down or on one’s back — even if one is lying in a manner which is not prohibited lest he develop an erection, e.g., even if he is tilted slightly on his side. Rather, he must turn on his side entirely. [Otherwise it is forbidden to recite the Shema,] because one would be accepting the sovereignty of Heaven in a lordly and arrogant manner. [An exception is made if] he is obese and cannot turn on his side or if he is sick.

Some authorities maintain that license was not granted [to recite the Shema lying down] even when one is lying on his side except when lying undressed under his sheet, because [the Sages] did not trouble him to rise and get dressed. [Otherwise, one must recite it sitting or standing.] The halachah follows the first opinion.

א כָּל אָדָם קוֹרִין קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע כְּדַרְכָּן,א בֵּין עוֹמְדִין בֵּין יוֹשְׁבִין, בֵּין שׁוֹכְבִין בֵּין מְהַלְּכִין, בֵּין רוֹכְבִין עַל גַּבֵּי בְּהֵמָה,ב שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר"ג,1 "וּבְלֶכְתְּךָ בַדֶּרֶךְ", אִם כֵּן לָמָּה נֶאֱמַר "בְּשָׁכְבְּךָ וּבְקוּמֶךָ"? בִּזְמַן שֶׁבְּנֵי אָדָם שׁוֹכְבִין וּבִזְמַן שֶׁבְּנֵי אָדָם עוֹמְדִין.ד,2 וּמִכָּל מָקוֹם פְּרַקְדָּן,ה,3 דְּהַיְנוּ שֶׁהוּא מֻטָּל וּפָנָיו טוּחוֹת בַּקַּרְקַע אוֹ מֻשְׁלָךְ עַל גַּבָּיו וּפָנָיו לְמַעְלָה,ו אֲפִלּוּ אִם הוּא בְּעִנְיָן שֶׁאֵין אִסּוּר בִּשְׁכִיבָה זוֹ מִשּׁוּם חֲשָׁשׁ שֶׁמָּא יָבוֹא לִידֵי קִשּׁוּי כְּגוֹן שֶׁמֻּטֶּה עַל צִדּוֹ מְעַטז – אָסוּר לִקְרוֹת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע עַד שֶׁיִּתְהַפֵּךְ עַל צִדּוֹ לְגַמְרֵי,ח מִפְּנֵי שֶׁמְּקַבֵּל מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם דֶּרֶךְ שְׂרָרָה וְגַאֲוָה,ט אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הָיָה בַּעַל בָּשָׂר הַרְבֵּה וְאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהִתְהַפֵּךְ עַל צִדּוֹי אוֹ שֶׁהוּא חוֹלֶה.יא וְיֵשׁ אוֹמְרִיםיב שֶׁאֲפִלּוּ לְשׁוֹכֵב עַל צִדּוֹ לֹא הִתִּירוּ לִקְרוֹת כָּךְ אֶלָּא כְּשֶׁשּׁוֹכֵב עָרֹם תַּחַת סְדִינוֹ, שֶׁלֹּא הִטְרִיחוּ עָלָיו לַעֲמֹד וְלִלְבֹּשׁ בְּגָדָיו.יג וְהָעִקָּר כַּסְּבָרָא הָרִאשׁוֹנָה:יד

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2 A person who is sitting, but desires to be stringent with himself and stand so that he will recite [the Shema] standing is called a transgressor, for he violates the words of the Sages. Though [this] is one of the positions in which the Sages permitted one to read the Shema, their interpretation [of the relevant verse] sees no superiority whatsoever in standing over sitting. For by saying “when you rise,” the verse does not at all speak about standing but about the time one rises. [Hence, by] being stringent and standing, one would make it appear that the Sages’ words and their interpretation of the verse are of no concern to him. [For this,] he is deserving of death [by the hand of Heaven].4

This does not at all resemble other stringencies that we observe for a particular reason even though the Sages ruled leniently. For [in those instances,] even the Sages would agree that there is a superior quality in the stringency because of the [given] reason; it is only that they did not desire [to impose] that stringency.5

ב מִי שֶׁרוֹצֶה לְהַחֲמִיר לַעֲמֹד כְּשֶׁהוּא יוֹשֵׁב וְלִקְרוֹתָהּ מְעֻמָּד – נִקְרָא עֲבַרְיָן, שֶׁעוֹבֵר עַל דִּבְרֵי חֲכָמִים.טו וְאַף שֶׁהַחֲכָמִים הִתִּירוּ גַּם מְעֻמָּד, מִכָּל מָקוֹם כֵּיוָן שֶׁלְּפִי דִּבְרֵיהֶם אֵין מַעֲלָה כְּלָל בִּמְעֻמָּד מִבְּיוֹשֵׁב,טז שֶׁזֶּה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר "וּבְקוּמֶךָ" אֵין הַכָּתוּב מְדַבֵּר כְּלָל בַּעֲמִידָה אֶלָּא בִּזְמַן קִימָה,יז וְהוּא מַחְמִיר לַעֲמֹד – הֲרֵי נִרְאֶה שֶׁאֵינוֹ חוֹשֵׁשׁ לְדִבְרֵיהֶם וּלְפֵרוּשָׁם בַּכָּתוּב, וְחַיָּב מִיתָה.יח,4 וְאֵין דּוֹמֶה כְּלָל לִשְׁאָר חֻמְרוֹת שֶׁאָנוּ מַחֲמִירִין מֵאֵיזֶה טַעַם בְּמַה שֶׁהֵקֵלּוּ חֲכָמִים, שֶׁאַף חֲכָמִים הָיוּ מוֹדִים שֶׁיֵּשׁ מַעֲלָה בְּחֻמְרָא מֵאוֹתוֹ טַעַם, אֶלָּא שֶׁלֹּא רָצוּ לְהַחֲמִיר:יט,5

3 To whom does the above apply? To a person who was sitting and then stands. If, by contrast, a person was walking and wished to stand still and recite all three passages of the Shema so that he could concentrate effectively, he is permitted [to do so]. [Indeed,] may blessings light upon him — for he is standing only in order to [increase his] concentration, whereas a person who is sitting is able to concentrate as effectively as one who stands.

Accordingly, those whose custom on Yom Kippur is to say Baruch shem kevod malchuso leolam vaed while standing are permitted to do so when they reach the recitation of the Shema.6 Though one could concentrate [equally] while sitting [he is permitted to stand], because what motivates him is not the obligation of reciting the Shema, but [the holiness of] the day.

ג בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים? בְּיוֹשֵׁב שֶׁעוֹמֵד, אֲבָל אִם הָיָה מְהַלֵּךְ וְרוֹצֶה לַעֲמֹד וְלִקְרוֹת כָּל הַג' פָּרָשִׁיּוֹת שֶׁל קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע כְּדֵי שֶׁיּוּכַל לְכַוֵּן הֵיטֵב – רַשַׁאי וְתָבוֹא עָלָיו בְּרָכָה, כֵּיוָן שֶׁאֵינוֹ מִתְכַוֵּן בָּעֲמִידָה אֶלָּא בִּשְׁבִיל הַכַּוָּנָה, מַה שֶּׁאֵין כֵּן בַּיוֹשֵׁב שֶׁיּוּכַל לְכַוֵּן כְּמוֹ מְעֻמָּד.כ לָכֵן מַה שֶׁנוֹהֲגִין לוֹמַר בְּיוֹם הַכִּפּוּרִים "בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד" מְעֻמָּדכא – מֻתָּר לַעֲמֹד כְּשֶׁמַּגִּיעַ לִקְרִיאַת שְׁמַע,6 אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהָיָה יוֹשֵׁב וְיָכוֹל לְכַוֵּן, מִכָּל מָקוֹם אֵינוֹ עוֹשֶׂה מִשּׁוּם חוֹבַת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע אֶלָּא מִשּׁוּם חוֹבַת הַיּוֹם:

4 If a person wished to recite all three passages of the Shema while walking, he may do so, except for the first verse;7 he must stop walking and stand (or sit) and [then] recite it, in order to concentrate properly. The same applies to a person riding on an animal. He must bring it to a halt [for the recitation of this verse], because he cannot concentrate as well while preoccupied with its progress. If, however, he is sitting in a wagon, he need not bring it to a halt.8

ד וְאִם רָצָה לִקְרוֹת כָּל הַג' פָּרָשִׁיּוֹת כְּשֶׁהוּא מְהַלֵּךְ – הָרְשׁוּת בְּיָדוֹ, מִלְּבַד פָּסוּק רִאשׁוֹןכב,7 שֶׁצְּרִיכִין לַעֲמֹד מֵהִלּוּכוֹכג (אוֹ לֵישֵׁבכד) וְלִקְרוֹתוֹ כְּדֵי לְכַוֵּן הֵיטֵב. וְהוּא הַדִּין אִם הָיָה רוֹכֵב עַל גַּבֵּי בְּהֵמָה – צָרִיךְ לְהַעֲמִידָהּ, שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְכַוֵּן כָּל כָּךְ שֶׁהוּא טָרוּד בַּהֲלִיכָתָהּ. אֲבָל אִם יוֹשֵׁב בָּעֲגָלָה – אֵין צָרִיךְ לְהַעֲמִידָהּ:כה,8

5 Even though the initial and preferred option is that one concentrate [while reciting] all three passages, the basic [requirement for] concentration relates to the first verse, which expresses one’s acceptance of the Kingdom of Heaven.9 It also relates to Baruch shem kevod malchuso leolam vaed, for this, too, expresses one’s acceptance of the Kingdom of Heaven. By contrast, the text from VeAhavta onwards is expressed as a command.10

Accordingly, if a person recited the Shema but did not concentrate for the first verse or for Baruch shem kevod malchuso leolam vaed, he must go back and recite them again. Certain authorities maintain that [after the fact, one has fulfilled his obligation even if he performed a mitzvah] without concentration. In this instance, however, even they agree that if one did not concentrate he has not fulfilled his Scriptural obligation, as explained in sec. 60[:5].

When a person [in such a situation] recites the verse Shema Yisrael a second time, he should read it in a hushed tone if he is [praying] with a congregation, so that he not appear to be accepting two authorities.11 If he did not realize that he had not paid attention until he completed the entire passage, he should go back to its beginning. [The first verse] cannot be recited at the point at which he made his realization, for if so he would be reciting [the passage] in incorrect sequence and hence would not fulfill his obligation, as will be explained in sec. 64[:1].

ה אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלְּכַתְּחִלָּה צָרִיךְ לְכַוֵּן בְּכָל הַג' פָּרָשִׁיּוֹתכו– עִקָּרכז הַכַּוָּנָה הִיא בְּפָסוּקכח רִאשׁוֹן, שֶׁהוּא קַבָּלַת מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם.כט,9 וְהוּא הַדִּין לְ"בָרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד", שֶׁהוּא גַּם כֵּן קַבָּלַת מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִם.ל אֲבָל מִ"וְאָהַבְתָּ" וְאֵילָךְ הוּא לְשׁוֹן צַוָּאָה.לא,10 לְפִיכָךְ אִם קָרָא קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע וְלֹא כִּוֵּן לִבּוֹ בְּפָסוּק רִאשׁוֹן אוֹ בְּ"בָרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד" – צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר וְלִקְרוֹתָן.לב וַאֲפִלּוּ הָאוֹמְרִים שֶׁמִּצְווֹת אֵין צָרִיךְ כַּוָּנָה מוֹדִים בָּזֶה שֶׁאִם לֹא כִּוֵּן לִבּוֹ – לֹא יָצָא יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ מִן הַתּוֹרָה,לג כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן ס'.לד

וּכְשֶׁקּוֹרֵא פָּסוּק "שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל" פַּעַם שֵׁנִית – יִקְרָא בְּלַחַשׁ אִם הוּא בְּצִבּוּר, שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה נִרְאֶה כִּמְקַבֵּל ב' רָשֻׁיּוֹת.לה,11 וְאִם לֹא נִזְכַּר שֶׁלֹּא כִּוֵּן לִבּוֹ עַד לְאַחַר שֶׁסִּיֵּם כָּל הַפָּרָשָׁה – צָרִיךְ לַחֲזֹר לָרֹאשׁ,לו שֶׁאִי אֶפְשָׁר לִקְרוֹתוֹ בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁנִּזְכַּר, מִשּׁוּם שֶׁנִּמְצָא קוֹרְאָהּ לְמַפְרֵעַ וְלֹא יָצָא כְּמוֹ שֶׁיִּתְבָּאֵר בְּסִימָן ס"ד:לז

6 If a person was sleeping, we cause him discomfort and rouse him until he has recited the first verse while completely awake so that he can concentrate.12 From this point onward, we do not cause him discomfort so that he will be able to recite while completely awake, for even if he recites it while dozing off, he has [after the fact] fulfilled his obligation. Though by initial preference one is required to concentrate throughout the entire [recitation], we do not trouble him and cause him discomfort because of this, for he is falling asleep against his will. We do, however, cause him discomfort until he recites the entire [Shema] while enunciating the words.

The above applies not only to falling asleep against one’s will, but likewise to any other unavoidable factor that prevents one from concentrating from VeAhavta onwards. We do not trouble him to concentrate because the obstacle is beyond his control.13

ו אִם הָיָה יָשֵׁן – מְצַעֲרִים אוֹתוֹ וּמְעִירִים אוֹתוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּקְרָא פָּסוּק רִאשׁוֹן וְהוּא עֵר מַמָּשׁ שֶׁיּוּכַל לְכַוֵּן.12 מִכָּאן וְאֵילָךְ – אֵין מְצַעֲרִין אוֹתוֹ כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּקְרָא וְהוּא עֵר מַמָּש,ׁלח שֶׁאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהוּא קוֹרֵא מִתְנַמְנֵם – יָצָא.לט וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁלְּכַתְּחִלָּה צָרִיךְ לְכַוֵּן בְּכֻלָּהּ – אֵין מַטְרִיחִין וּמְצַעֲרִים אוֹתוֹ בִּשְׁבִיל כָּךְ, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהוּא אָנוּס בַּשֵּׁנָה. אֲבָל עַל כָּל פָּנִים מְצַעֲרִים אוֹתוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּקְרָא כֻּלּוֹ בְּפִיו.מ וְלֹא אֹנֶס שֵׁנָה בִּלְבַד, אֶלָּא הוּא הַדִּין אִם אָנוּס אֹנֶס אַחֵר שֶׁלֹּא יוּכַל לְכַוֵּן מִ"וְאָהַבְתָּ" וְאֵילָךְ – אֵין מַטְרִיחִין עָלָיו לְכַוֵּן, כֵּיוָן שֶׁהוּא אָנוּס:מא,13

7 While a person is reciting the Shema, he should not wink to a friend, make motions with his lips, nor point with his fingers, even for the sake of a mitzvah.14 [To one who] does this, [the Sages apply the verse],15 “It was not Me that you called, O Yaakov...,” because it appears that he is reading casually — whereas the Torah states,16 “And you shall speak of [these words],” which the Sages17 understood as implying, “Do this in earnest.”18

To what does the above apply? To the first passage. Since it begins with the acceptance of the sovereignty of Heaven, [the Sages] required that one treat it in earnest. From this point onward, it is permitted to [make gestures] when this is required to some extent for a mitzvah,19 i.e., in a situation resembling the incident17 in which a student was reviewing a mishnah in the presence of his teacher while the latter was reciting the second passage of the Shema. When the student erred and read “Zechariah ben Kapotal,” his teacher motioned [that he should correct himself and] read “Kabotal.”

ז הַקּוֹרֵא קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע – לֹא יִרְמֹז לְחֲבֵרוֹ בְּעֵינָיו, וְלֹא יִקְרֹץ בִּשְׂפָתָיו, וְלֹא יַרְאֶה בְּאֶצְבְּעוֹתָיו,מב וַאֲפִלּוּ לְצֹרֶךְ מִצְוָה.מג,14 וְאִם עָשָׂה כֵּן – עָלָיו הַכָּתוּב נֶאֱמַר:מד,15 "וְלֹא אֹתִי קָרָאתָ יַעֲקֹב" כו', מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנִּרְאֶה כְּקוֹרֵא דֶּרֶךְ עֲרַאי,מה וְהַתּוֹרָה אָמְרָהּ:מו,16 "וְדִבַּרְתָּ בָּם", וְדָרְשׁוּ חֲכָמִים:מז,17 עֲשֵׂה אוֹתָם קֶבַע.18

בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים? בְּפָרָשָׁה רִאשׁוֹנָה,מח מִפְּנֵי שֶׁיֵּשׁ בִּתְחִלָּתָהּ קַבָּלַת מַלְכוּת שָׁמַיִםמט – הִצְרִיכוּ לַעֲשׂוֹתָהּ קֶבַע. אֲבָל מִכָּאן וְאֵילָךְ – מֻתָּר (א) לְצֹרֶךְ מִצְוָה קְצָת,19 כְּעֵין מַעֲשֶׂה שֶׁהָיָה17 שֶׁשָּׁנָה תַּלְמִיד בִּפְנֵי רַבּוֹ בַּמִּשְׁנָה "זְכַרְיָה בֶּן קַפּוֹטָל", וְרַבּוֹ קָרָא פָּרָשָׁה שְׁנִיָּה שֶׁל קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע וְהוֹרָה לוֹ בְּיָדוֹ לִקְרוֹת "קַבּוֹטָל":נ

8 If one was involved in his work and wished to recite the Shema, he should pause from his work until he has read the first passage of the Shema20 so that he not be reciting it casually. [This applies] even when he is able to concentrate.

ח הָיָה עוֹסֵק בִּמְלָאכָה וְרָצָה לִקְרוֹת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע – יִתְבַּטֵּל מִמְּלַאכְתוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּקְרָא קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע פָּרָשָׁה רִאשׁוֹנָה,נא,20 כְּדֵי שֶׁלֹּא יִהְיֶה כְּקוֹרֵא דֶּרֶךְ עֲרַאי, וַאֲפִלּוּ יָכוֹל לְכַוֵּן:נב

9 Craftsmen, and similarly their employer, who are working at the top of a tree or at the top row of a building, may read the Shema in that place. They are not required to climb down. Nevertheless, they must pause from their work while [reciting] the first passage, as explained [above].

ט הָאֻמָּנִין וְכֵן בַּעַל הַבַּיִת שֶׁהָיוּ עוֹשִׂין מְלָאכָה בְּרֹאשׁ הָאִילָן אוֹ בְּרֹאשׁ שׁוּרוֹת הַבִּנְיָן – קוֹרִין קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע בִּמְקוֹמָן, וְאֵין צְרִיכִים לֵירֵד.נג אֲבָל מִכָּל מָקוֹם צְרִיכִים לְהִתְבַּטֵּל מִמְּלַאכְתָם בְּפָרָשָׁה רִאשׁוֹנָה,נד כְּמוֹ שֶׁנִּתְבָּאֵר:

10 A porter may recite the Shema even though his burden is on his shoulder, because he is able to concentrate.21 However, he should not begin [its recitation] while he is loading or unloading his burden, because [then] his mind is not at ease.

י הַכַּתָּף אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁמַּשָּׂאוֹ עַל כְּתֵפוֹ – קוֹרֵא קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁיּוּכַל לְכַוֵּן.21 אֲבָל לֹא יַתְחִיל בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁטּוֹעֵן וְלֹא בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁפּוֹרֵק, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁאֵין לִבּוֹ מְיֻשָּׁב:נה