Berakhot 3a:11-14ברכות ג׳ א:י״א-י״ד
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קשיא דרבי מאיר אדרבי מאיר תרי תנאי אליבא דרבי מאיר

There is a contradiction between one statement of Rabbi Meir and the other statement of Rabbi Meir. The Gemara responds: Two tanna’im, students of Rabbi Meir, expressed different opinions in accordance with Rabbi Meir’s opinion.

קשיא דרבי אליעזר אדרבי אליעזר

So too, the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer cited in the mishna contradicts the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer cited in the baraita. In the mishna, Rabbi Eliezer holds that the time for the recitation of Shema begins with the emergence of the stars: From the time when the priests enter to partake of their teruma, while in the baraita, he states that the time for the recitation of Shema begins when the day becomes sanctified on the eve of Shabbat.

תרי תנאי אליבא דרבי אליעזר ואיבעית אימא רישא לאו רבי אליעזר היא:

The Gemara responds: There are two possible resolutions to the apparent contradiction in Rabbi Eliezer’s opinion. Either two tanna’im expressed different opinions in accordance with Rabbi Eliezer’s opinion, or if you wish, say instead that the first clause of the mishna, according to which we begin to recite Shema when the priests enter to partake of their teruma, is not actually Rabbi Eliezer’s opinion. Only the second half of the statement: Until the end of the first watch, was stated by Rabbi Eliezer.

עד סוף האשמורה:

In the mishna, we learned that Rabbi Eliezer establishes that one may recite the evening Shema until the end of the first watch. These watches are mentioned in the Bible as segments of the night, but it must be established: Into precisely how many segments is the night divided, three or four? Moreover, why does Rabbi Eliezer employ such inexact parameters rather than a more precise definition of time (Tosefot HaRosh)?

מאי קסבר רבי אליעזר אי קסבר שלש משמרות הוי הלילה לימא עד ארבע שעות ואי קסבר ארבע משמרות הוי הלילה לימא עד שלש שעות

What does Rabbi Eliezer actually hold? If he holds that the night consists of three watches, let him say explicitly that one recites the evening Shema until the fourth hour. If he holds that the night consists of four watches, let him say explicitly until the third hour.

לעולם קסבר שלש משמרות הוי הלילה והא קמשמע לן דאיכא משמרות ברקיע ואיכא משמרות בארעא דתניא רבי אליעזר אומר שלש משמרות הוי הלילה ועל כל משמר ומשמר יושב הקדוש ברוך הוא ושואג כארי שנאמר ה׳ ממרום ישאג וממעון קדשו יתן קולו שאג ישאג על נוהו

The Gemara responds: Actually, Rabbi Eliezer holds that the night consists of three watches, and he employs this particular language of watches in order to teach us: There are watches in heaven and there are watches on earth; just as our night is divided into watches, so too is the night in the upper worlds. As it was taught in a baraita: Rabbi Eliezer says: The night consists of three watches, and over each and every watch, the Holy One, Blessed be He, sits and roars like a lion in pain over the destruction of the Temple. This imagery is derived from a reference in the Bible, as it is stated: “The Lord roars [yishag] from on high, from His holy dwelling He makes His voice heard. He roars mightily [shaog yishag] over His dwelling place, He cries out like those who tread grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth” (Jeremiah 25:30). The three instances of the root shin-alef-gimmel in this verse correspond to the three watches of the night.

וסימן לדבר משמרה ראשונה חמור נוער שניה כלבים צועקים שלישית תינוק יונק משדי אמו ואשה מספרת עם בעלה

And signs of the transition between each of these watches in the upper world can be sensed in this world: In the first watch, the donkey brays; in the second, dogs bark; and in the third people begin to rise, a baby nurses from its mother’s breast and a wife converses with her husband.

מאי קא חשיב רבי אליעזר אי תחלת משמרות קא חשיב תחלת משמרה ראשונה סימנא למה לי אורתא הוא אי סוף משמרות קא חשיב סוף משמרה אחרונה למה לי סימנא יממא הוא

With regard to these earthly manifestations of the three heavenly watches as established in the baraita, the Gemara asks: What did Rabbi Eliezer enumerate? If he enumerated the beginning of the watch, why do I need a sign for the beginning of the first watch? It is when evening begins; an additional sign is superfluous. If he enumerated the end of the watches, why do I need a sign for the end of the last watch? It is when day begins; an additional sign is similarly superfluous.

אלא חשיב סוף משמרה ראשונה ותחלת משמרה אחרונה ואמצעית דאמצעיתא ואיבעית אימא כולהו סוף משמרות קא חשיב וכי תימא אחרונה לא צריך

The Gemara answers: Rather, he enumerated the signs for the end of the first watch and the beginning of the last watch, both of which require a sign, as well as the middle of the middle watch. And if you wish, say instead: He enumerated the ends of all of the watches. And if you say that a sign indicating the end of the final watch is unnecessary because it is day, nevertheless, that sign is useful.

למאי נפקא מינה למיקרי קריאת שמע למאן דגני בבית אפל ולא ידע זמן קריאת שמע אימת כיון דאשה מספרת עם בעלה ותינוק יונק משדי אמו ליקום וליקרי

What is the practical ramification of this sign? It is relevant to one who recites Shema while lying in a dark house, who cannot see the dawn and who does not know when the time for reciting Shema arrives. That person is provided with a sign that when a woman speaks with her husband and a baby nurses from its mother’s breast, the final watch of the night has ended and he must rise and recite Shema.

אמר רב יצחק בר שמואל משמיה דרב שלש משמרות הוי הלילה ועל כל משמר ומשמר יושב הקדוש ברוך הוא ושואג כארי ואומר אוי לי שבעונותיהם החרבתי את ביתי ושרפתי את היכלי והגליתים לבין אומות העולם:

Rav Yitzḥak bar Shmuel said in the name of Rav: The night consists of three watches, and over each and every watch the Holy One, Blessed be He sits and roars like a lion, because the Temple service was connected to the changing of these watches (Tosefot HaRosh), and says: “Woe to Me, that due to their sins I destroyed My house, burned My Temple and exiled them among the nations of the world.”

תניא אמר רבי יוסי פעם אחת הייתי מהלך בדרך ונכנסתי לחורבה אחת מחורבות ירושלים להתפלל בא אליהו זכור לטוב ושמר לי על הפתח (והמתין לי) עד שסיימתי תפלתי לאחר שסיימתי תפלתי אמר לי שלום עליך רבי ואמרתי לו שלום עליך רבי ומורי ואמר לי בני מפני מה נכנסת לחורבה זו אמרתי לו להתפלל ואמר לי היה לך להתפלל בדרך ואמרתי לו מתירא הייתי שמא יפסיקו בי עוברי דרכים ואמר לי היה לך להתפלל תפלה קצרה

Incidental to the mention of the elevated significance of the night watches, the Gemara cites a related story: It was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yosei said: I was once walking along the road when I entered the ruins of an old, abandoned building among the ruins of Jerusalem in order to pray. I noticed that Elijah, of blessed memory, came and guarded the entrance for me and waited at the entrance until I finished my prayer. When I finished praying and exited the ruin, Elijah said to me, deferentially as one would address a Rabbi: Greetings to you, my Rabbi. I answered him: Greetings to you, my Rabbi, my teacher. And Elijah said to me: My son, why did you enter this ruin? I said to him: In order to pray. And Elijah said to me: You should have prayed on the road. And I said to him: I was unable to pray along the road, because I was afraid that I might be interrupted by travelers and would be unable to focus. Elijah said to me: You should have recited the abbreviated prayer instituted for just such circumstances.

באותה שעה למדתי ממנו שלשה דברים למדתי שאין נכנסין לחורבה ולמדתי שמתפללין בדרך ולמדתי שהמתפלל בדרך מתפלל תפלה קצרה

Rabbi Yosei concluded: At that time, from that brief exchange, I learned from him, three things: I learned that one may not enter a ruin; and I learned that one need not enter a building to pray, but he may pray along the road; and I learned that one who prays along the road recites an abbreviated prayer so that he may maintain his focus.

ואמר לי בני מה קול שמעת בחורבה זו ואמרתי לו שמעתי בת קול שמנהמת כיונה ואומרת אוי לבנים שבעונותיהם החרבתי את ביתי ושרפתי את היכלי והגליתים לבין האומות ואמר לי חייך וחיי ראשך לא שעה זו בלבד אומרת כך אלא בכל יום ויום שלש פעמים אומרת כך ולא זו בלבד אלא בשעה שישראל נכנסין לבתי כנסיות ולבתי מדרשות ועונין יהא שמיה הגדול מבורך הקדוש ברוך הוא מנענע ראשו ואומר אשרי המלך שמקלסין אותו בביתו כך מה לו לאב שהגלה את בניו ואוי להם לבנים שגלו מעל שולחן אביהם:

And after this introduction, Elijah said to me: What voice did you hear in that ruin?
I responded: I heard a Heavenly voice, like an echo of that roar of the Holy One, Blessed be He (Maharsha), cooing like a dove and saying: Woe to the children, due to whose sins I destroyed My house, burned My Temple, and exiled them among the nations.
And Elijah said to me: By your life and by your head, not only did that voice cry out in that moment, but it cries out three times each and every day. Moreover, any time that God’s greatness is evoked, such as when Israel enters synagogues and study halls and answers in the kaddish prayer, May His great name be blessed, the Holy One, Blessed be He, shakes His head and says: Happy is the king who is thus praised in his house. When the Temple stood, this praise was recited there, but now: How great is the pain of the father who exiled his children, and woe to the children who were exiled from their father’s table, as their pain only adds to that of their father (Rabbi Shem Tov ibn Shaprut).

תנו רבנן מפני שלשה דברים אין נכנסין לחורבה מפני חשד מפני המפולת ומפני המזיקין מפני חשד ותיפוק ליה משום מפולת

The Sages taught, for three reasons one may not enter a ruin: Because of suspicion of prostitution, because the ruin is liable to collapse, and because of demons. Three separate reasons seem extraneous, so the Gemara asks: Why was the reason because of suspicion necessary? Let this halakha be derived because of collapse.