Berakhot 4b:26ברכות ד׳ ב:כו
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4bד׳ ב

ואי כרבן גמליאל סבירא להו לימרו כרבן גמליאל

And if they explain this verse in accordance with the opinion of Rabban Gamliel who says that “when you lie down” refers to the entire night, then let the Rabbis also say that one may recite the evening Shema until dawn, in accordance with the opinion of Rabban Gamliel.

לעולם כרבן גמליאל סבירא להו והא דקא אמרי עד חצות כדי להרחיק את האדם מן העבירה כדתניא חכמים עשו סייג לדבריהם כדי שלא יהא אדם בא מן השדה בערב ואומר אלך לביתי ואוכל קימעא ואשתה קימעא ואישן קימעא ואחר כך אקרא קריאת שמע ואתפלל וחוטפתו שינה ונמצא ישן כל הלילה אבל אדם בא מן השדה בערב נכנס לבית הכנסת אם רגיל לקרות קורא ואם רגיל לשנות שונה וקורא קריאת שמע ומתפלל ואוכל פתו ומברך

The Gemara answers: Actually, the Rabbis hold in accordance with the opinion of Rabban Gamliel, and the fact that they say until midnight is in order to distance a person from transgression. As it was taught in a baraita, the Rabbis created a “fence” for their pronouncements with regard to the recitation of Shema in order to prevent a situation where a person comes home from the field in the evening, tired from his day’s work, and knowing that he is permitted to recite Shema until dawn says to himself: I will go home, eat a little, drink a little, sleep a little and then I will recite Shema and recite the evening prayer. In the meantime, he is overcome by sleep and ends up sleeping all night. However, since one is concerned lest he fall asleep and fail to wake up before midnight in order to recite Shema at the appropriate time, he will come from the field in the evening, enter the synagogue, and until it is time to pray, he will immerse himself in Torah. If he is accustomed to reading the Bible, he reads. If he is accustomed to learning mishnayot, a more advanced level of study, he learns. And then he recites Shema and prays as he should. When he arrives home, he eats his meal with a contented heart and recites a blessing.

וכל העובר על דברי חכמים חייב מיתה

The baraita concludes with a warning: Anyone who transgresses the pronouncements of the Sages is liable to receive the death penalty.

מאי שנא בכל דוכתא דלא קתני חייב מיתה ומאי שנא הכא דקתני חייב מיתה

This is a startling conclusion. What is different in all other places that it is not taught that one is liable to receive the death penalty and what is different here that it is taught that he is liable to receive the death penalty? There is no unique stringency apparent in the rabbinic restriction on the recitation of Shema.

איבעית אימא משום דאיכא אונס שינה ואיבעית אימא לאפוקי ממאן דאמר תפלת ערבית רשות קא משמע לן דחובה:

The Gemara offers two answers, explaining that the conclusion of the baraita essentially stems not from the magnitude of the transgression, but rather from concern that the “fence” created around this particular mitzva may be neglected. If you wish, say that one returning from work is quite anxious to go to sleep, and due to the risk that he will be overcome by sleep, he must be particularly vigilant in the recitation of Shema. And if you wish, say instead that strong language is employed here in order to exclude the opinion of he who says that although the morning prayer and the afternoon prayer are mandatory, the evening prayer is optional. Therefore, it teaches us that the evening prayer is mandatory, and anyone who transgresses the pronouncement of the Sages in this regard is liable to receive the death penalty.

אמר מר קורא קריאת שמע ומתפלל מסייע ליה לרבי יוחנן דאמר רבי יוחנן איזהו בן העולם הבא זה הסומך גאולה לתפלה של ערבית רבי יהושע בן לוי אומר תפלות באמצע תקנום

In this baraita, the Master said that when one returns from work in the evening, he enters the synagogue, recites Shema, and prays. From this baraita, we see that at night, just as during the day, one first recites Shema and then prays. This supports the opinion of Rabbi Yoḥanan, as Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Who is assured of a place in the World-to-Come? It is one who juxtaposes the blessing of redemption, recited after Shema, to the evening prayer. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi says: The prayers were instituted to be recited between the two recitations of Shema. According to Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, one recites the morning Shema, then recites all of the prayers and only after the recitation of the evening prayer does he recite the evening Shema.

במאי קא מפלגי

Although the practical difference between these two positions is clear, the Gemara seeks to determine: With regard to what do they disagree? What is the basis of their argument?

אי בעית אימא קרא אי בעית אימא סברא

The Gemara answers: If you wish, say that they disagree over the interpretation of a verse; if you wish, say instead that they disagree on a point of logic.

אי בעית אימא סברא

If you say that they disagree on a point of logic, then the argument relates to the redemption recited after Shema, whose focus is the exodus from Egypt, the first redemption. The question is whether that redemption began at night, which would render it appropriate to juxtapose redemption to the blessing of the evening prayers as well, in prayer for immediate redemption. Or, perhaps, the redemption from Egypt only began during the day.

דרבי יוחנן סבר גאולה מאורתא נמי הוי אלא גאולה מעלייתא לא הויא אלא עד צפרא ורבי יהושע בן לוי סבר כיון דלא הויא אלא מצפרא לא הויא גאולה מעלייתא

Rabbi Yoḥanan holds: Redemption occurred in the evening as well; however, the full-fledged redemption was only in the morning. Since the redemption began in the evening, it is appropriate to juxtapose the blessing of redemption to the daily evening prayer. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, on the other hand, holds: Since full-fledged redemption only occurred in the morning, and the redemption of the previous evening was not a full-fledged redemption, there is no need to juxtapose the blessing of redemption to the evening prayer.

ואיבעית אימא קרא ושניהם מקרא אחד דרשו דכתיב בשכבך ובקומך

And if you wish, say instead that the dispute between Rabbi Yoḥanan and Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi is not a difference over a point of logic, but over the interpretation of a verse. Both derived their opinions from the same verse: “When you lie down, and when you rise.” Both interpreted that the juxtaposition in this verse of the recitation of Shema at night and the recitation of Shema in the morning draws a parallel between them.

רבי יוחנן סבר מקיש שכיבה לקימה מה קימה קריאת שמע ואחר כך תפלה אף שכיבה נמי קריאת שמע ואחר כך תפלה רבי יהושע בן לוי סבר מקיש שכיבה לקימה מה קימה קריאת שמע סמוך למטתו אף שכיבה נמי קריאת שמע סמוך למטתו

Rabbi Yoḥanan holds: The verse juxtaposes lying down and rising. Just as when one rises, the recitation of Shema is followed by prayer, as everyone agrees that in the morning one juxtaposes redemption to the morning prayer, so too, when one lies down, the recitation of Shema is followed by prayer. And Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi maintains: The verse juxtaposes lying down and rising in a different sense. Just as when one rises, he recites Shema adjacent to rising from his bed, as the verse, when you rise, means when one awakens, so too when one lies down, he recites Shema adjacent to lying down in his bed. Therefore, the recitation of the evening Shema should be performed as close as possible to the moment when one actually lies down.

מתיב מר בריה דרבינא בערב מברך שתים לפניה ושתים לאחריה ואי אמרת בעי לסמוך הא לא קא סמך גאולה לתפלה דהא בעי למימר השכיבנו

According to Rabbi Yoḥanan, it is a mitzva to recite Shema before the evening prayer. Mar, son of Ravina, raises an objection from a mishna: How can one do that? We learn in a later mishna: In the evening, one recites two blessings prior to the recitation of Shema and two blessings afterward. And if you say that one must juxtapose redemption to prayer, doesn’t he fail to juxtapose redemption to prayer, as he must recite: Help us lie down [hashkivenu], the blessing recited after the blessing of redemption, which constitutes an interruption between redemption and prayer?

אמרי כיון דתקינו רבנן השכיבנו כגאולה אריכתא דמיא דאי לא תימא הכי שחרית היכי מצי סמיך והא אמר רבי יוחנן בתחלה אומר ה׳ שפתי תפתח ולבסוף הוא אומר יהיו לרצון אמרי פי

They say in response: Since the Sages instituted the practice of reciting: Help us lie down, it is considered one extended blessing of redemption, and therefore does not constitute an interruption. As if you fail to say that the sections added by the Sages are considered no less significant than the original prayers, then can one juxtapose redemption to prayer even in the morning? Didn’t Rabbi Yoḥanan say: Before every prayer one recites the verse: “Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your glory” (Psalms 51:17) as a prelude to prayer? Afterward, one recites the verse: “May the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable before You” (Psalms 19:15). Doesn’t the verse: Lord, open my lips, constitute an interruption between redemption and prayer?

אלא התם כיון דתקינו רבנן למימר ה׳ שפתי תפתח כתפלה אריכתא דמיא הכא נמי כיון דתקינו רבנן למימר השכיבנו כגאולה אריכתא דמיא:

Rather, there, since the Sages instituted that one must recite: Lord, open my lips, it is considered as an extended prayer and not as an interruption. Here, too, with regard to the evening prayer, since the Sages instituted to recite the blessing Help us lie down, it is considered as one extended blessing of redemption.

אמר רבי אלעזר אמר רבי אבינא כל האומר תהלה לדוד בכל יום שלש פעמים מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא

Tangential to Rabbi Yoḥanan’s statement that one who juxtaposes redemption and prayer is assured of a place in the World-to-Come, a similar statement is cited. Rabbi Elazar said that Rabbi Avina said: Anyone who recites: “A Psalm of David” (Psalms 145) three times every day is assured of a place in the World-to-Come.

מאי טעמא

This statement extolling the significance of this particular chapter of Psalms, usually referred to as ashrei because its recitation is preceded by recitation of the verse, “Happy [ashrei] are those who dwell in Your House, they praise You Selah” (Psalms 84:5), raises the question: What is the reason that such significance is ascribed to this particular chapter?

אילימא משום דאתיא באלף בית נימא אשרי תמימי דרך דאתיא בתמניא אפין

If you say that it is because it is arranged alphabetically, then let us say: “Happy are they who are upright in the way” (Psalms 119) where the alphabetical arrangement appears eight times.

אלא משום דאית ביה פותח את ידך נימא הלל הגדול דכתיב ביה נתן לחם לכל בשר

Rather, if you suggest that this particular chapter is recited because it contains praise for God’s provision of sustenance to all of creation: “You open Your hand and satisfy every living thing with favor” (Psalms 145:16), then let him recite the great hallel (Psalms 136), in which numerous praises are written, including: “Who provides food to all flesh, Whose kindness endures forever” (Psalms 136:25).

אלא משום דאית ביה תרתי

Rather, the reason why tehilla leDavid is accorded preference is because it contains both an alphabetic acrostic as well as mention of God’s provision of sustenance to all creation.

אמר רבי יוחנן מפני מה לא נאמר נון באשרי מפני שיש בה מפלתן של שונאי ישראל דכתיב נפלה לא תוסיף קום בתולת ישראל

Additionally, with regard to this psalm, Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Why is there no verse beginning with the letter nun in ashrei? Because it contains an allusion to the downfall of the enemies of Israel, a euphemism for Israel itself. As it is written: “The virgin of Israel has fallen and she will rise no more; abandoned in her land, none will raise her up” (Amos 5:2), which begins with the letter nun. Due to this verse, ashrei does not include a verse beginning with the letter nun.

במערבא מתרצי לה הכי נפלה ולא תוסיף לנפול עוד קום בתולת ישראל אמר רב נחמן בר יצחק אפילו הכי חזר דוד וסמכן ברוח הקדש שנאמר סומך ה׳ לכל הנפלים:

In order to ease the harsh meaning of this verse, in the West, in Eretz Yisrael, they interpreted it with a slight adjustment: “She has fallen but she shall fall no more; rise, virgin of Israel.” Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak adds: Even so, David went and provided support, through divine inspiration. Although King David did not include a verse beginning with the letter nun alluding to Israel’s downfall, he foresaw the verse that would be written by Amos through divine inspiration; and the very next verse, which begins with the letter samekh, reads: “The Lord upholds the fallen and raises up those who are bowed down” (Psalms 145:14). Therefore, through divine inspiration, David offered hope and encouragement; although the virgin of Israel may have fallen, the Lord upholds the fallen.

אמר רבי אלעזר בר אבינא גדול מה שנאמר במיכאל יותר ממה שנאמר בגבריאל דאילו במיכאל כתיב ויעף אלי אחד מן השרפים ואילו גבי גבריאל כתיב והאיש גבריאל אשר ראיתי בחזון בתחלה מעף ביעף וגו׳

After this discussion of the statement that Rabbi Elazar said that Rabbi Avina said, another statement of Rabbi Elazar is cited. Rabbi Elazar bar Avina said: What was said about the angel Michael is greater than what was said about the angel Gabriel. As about Michael, it is written: “And one of the seraphim flew to me” (Isaiah 6:6), indicating that with a single flight, the seraph arrived and performed his mission, while regarding Gabriel, it is written: “The man, Gabriel, whom I had seen at the beginning, in a vision, being caused to fly swiftly, approached close to me about the time of the evening offering” (Daniel 9:21). The double language used in the phrase “to fly swiftly [muaf biaf],” indicates that he did not arrive at his destination in a single flight, but rather, that it took him two flights.

מאי משמע דהאי אחד מיכאל הוא

To Rabbi Elazar bar Avina, it is clear that “one of the seraphim” refers to Michael, and the Gemara asks: From where is it inferred that the one mentioned in the verse is Michael?

אמר רבי יוחנן אתיא אחד אחד כתיב הכא ויעף אלי אחד מן השרפים וכתיב התם והנה מיכאל אחד (מן) השרים הראשונים בא לעזרני

Rabbi Yoḥanan said: This is derived through a verbal analogy between the words one and one. Here, it is written: “And one of the seraphim flew to me” (Isaiah 6:6), and there, it is written: “And behold, Michael, one of the chief ministers of the king, came to my aid” (Daniel 10:13). Since the verse from Daniel refers to Michael as “one,” which aggadic midrash interprets as “the unique one,” so, too, “one of the seraphs” described in Isaiah must also refer to the unique one, Michael.

תנא מיכאל באחת גבריאל בשתים אליהו בארבע ומלאך המות בשמנה ובשעת המגפה באחת:

This discussion in the Gemara concludes with a Tosefta that arrives at a hierarchy of angels based on the number of flights required by each to arrive at his destination. It was taught in a Tosefta: Michael, as stated above, in one flight; Gabriel, in two flights; Elijah the Prophet, in four flights; and the Angel of Death, in eight flights. During a time of plague, however, when the Angel of Death seems ubiquitous, he arrives everywhere in one flight.

אמר רבי יהושע בן לוי אף על פי שקרא אדם קריאת שמע בבית הכנסת מצוה לקרותו על מטתו אמר רבי יוסי מאי קרא רגזו ואל תחטאו אמרו בלבבכם על משכבכם ודמו סלה

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: Even though one recited Shema in the synagogue, it is a mitzva to recite it upon his bed in fulfillment of the verse: “When you lie down.” Rabbi Yosei said: What verse alludes to the fact that one must recite Shema in the evening, upon his bed, as well? “Tremble, and do not sin; say to your heart upon your bed and be still, Selah” (Psalms 4:5). This is understood to mean: Recite Shema, about which it is written, “on your hearts,” upon your bed, and afterward be still and sleep.

אמר רב נחמן

With regard to Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi’s statement, Rabbi Naḥman said: