Mishneh Torah, Reading the Shema
Chapter 1א׳
1 א

פַּעֲמַיִם בְּכָל יוֹם קוֹרְאִין קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע, בָּעֶרֶב וּבַבֹּקֶר. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים ו ז) ״וּבְשָׁכְבְּךָ וּבְקוּמֶךָ״ בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁדֶּרֶךְ בְּנֵי אָדָם שׁוֹכְבִין וְזֶה הוּא לַיְלָה. וּבְשָׁעָה שֶׁדֶּרֶךְ בְּנֵי אָדָם עוֹמְדִין וְזֶה הוּא יוֹם:

The Shema is read twice every day,—in the evening and in the morning, as it is said, "and when thou liest down and when thou risest up" (Deuteronomy 6:7), the phrases in this text meaning at the time when men are lying down, that is, at night, and at the time when they have risen, that is, by day.

2 ב

וּמַה הוּא קוֹרֵא, שְׁלֹשָׁה פָּרָשִׁיּוֹת. אֵלּוּ הֵן (דברים ו ד) ״שְׁמַע״ (דברים יא יג) ״וְהָיָה אִם שָׁמֹעַ״ (במדבר טו לז) ״וַיֹּאמֶר״. וּמַקְדִּימִין לִקְרוֹת פָּרָשַׁת שְׁמַע מִפְּנֵי שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ יִחוּד הַשֵּׁם וְאַהֲבָתוֹ וְתַלְמוּדוֹ שֶׁהוּא הָעִקָּר הַגָּדוֹל שֶׁהַכּל תָּלוּי בּוֹ. וְאַחֲרֶיהָ וְהָיָה אִם שָׁמֹעַ שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ צִוּוּי עַל (זְכִירַת) שְׁאָר כָּל הַמִּצְוֹת. וְאַחַר כָּךְ פָּרָשַׁת (במדבר טו לח) ״צִיצִית״ שֶׁגַּם הִיא יֵשׁ בָּהּ צִוּוּי זְכִירַת כָּל הַמִּצְוֹת:

What does one read? Three sections as follows: the section beginning, "Hear, O Israel" (Deuteronomy 6:4-9); that commencing, "And it shall come to pass" (Deuteronomy 11:13-21); and that commencing, "And the Lord spoke" (Numbers 15:37-41). The section beginning, "Hear, O Israel" is recited first, because it sets forth the duties of acknowledging the Unity of God, loving Him, and studying His words. This is the great and essential matter on which all depends. Then, the passage beginning, "And it shall come to pass" is read, this containing a charge to fulfill all the other commandments. Finally the section concerning Fringes is read, as it also contains a charge to remember all the commandments.

3 ג

אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁאֵין מִצְוַת צִיצִית נוֹהֶגֶת בַּלַּיְלָה קוֹרְאִין אוֹתָהּ בַּלַּיְלָה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ זִכְרוֹן יְצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם וּמִצְוָה לְהַזְכִּיר יְצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם בַּיּוֹם וּבַלַּיְלָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טז ג) ״לְמַעַן תִּזְכֹּר אֶת יוֹם צֵאתְךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם כּל יְמֵי חַיֶּיךָ״. וּקְרִיאַת שָׁלֹשׁ פָּרָשִׁיּוֹת אֵלּוּ עַל סֵדֶר זֶה הִיא הַנִּקְרֵאת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע:

Although the precept to wear fringes is not incumbent at night, still the section concerning this precept is recited at night, because it mentions the departure from Egypt, which it is a duty to recall by day and at night, as it is said, "that thou mayest remember the day of thy going forth from the land of Egypt all the days of thy life" (Deuteronomy 16:3). The reading of these three sections in this order is termed "The reading of the Shema."

4 ד

הַקּוֹרֵא קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע כְּשֶׁהוּא גּוֹמֵר פָּסוּק רִאשׁוֹן אוֹמֵר בְּלַחַשׁ בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד וְחוֹזֵר וְקוֹרֵא כְּדַרְכּוֹ (דברים ו ה) ״וְאָהַבְתָּ אֵת יְיָ׳‎ אֱלֹהֶיךָ״ עַד סוֹפָהּ. וְלָמָּה קוֹרִין כֵּן. מָסֹרֶת הִיא בְּיָדֵינוּ שֶׁבְּשָׁעָה שֶׁקִּבֵּץ יַעֲקֹב אָבִינוּ אֶת בָּנָיו בְּמִצְרַיִם בִּשְׁעַת מִיתָתוֹ צִוָּם וְזֵרְזָם עַל יִחוּד הַשֵּׁם וְעַל דֶּרֶךְ ה׳‎ שֶׁהָלַךְ בָּהּ אַבְרָהָם וְיִצְחָק אָבִיו וְשָׁאַל אוֹתָם וְאָמַר לָהֶם בָּנַי שֶׁמָּא יֵשׁ בָּכֶם פַּסְלוּת מִי שֶׁאֵינוֹ עוֹמֵד עִמִּי בְּיִחוּד הַשֵּׁם כָּעִנְיָן שֶׁאָמַר לָנוּ משֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ (דברים כט יז) ״פֶּן יֵשׁ בָּכֶם אִישׁ אוֹ אִשָּׁה״ וְגוֹ׳‎. עָנוּ כֻּלָּם וְאָמְרוּ (דברים ו ד) ״שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְיָ׳‎ אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְיָ׳‎ אֶחָד״. כְּלוֹמַר שְׁמַע מִמֶּנּוּ אָבִינוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל יְיָ׳‎ אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְיָ׳‎ אֶחָד. פָּתַח הַזָּקֵן וְאָמַר בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד. לְפִיכָךְ נָהֲגוּ כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל לוֹמַר שֶׁבַח שֶׁשִּׁבֵּחַ בּוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל הַזָּקֵן אַחַר פָּסוּק זֶה:

When reciting the Shema, after concluding the first verse, one repeats in a low tone the sentence, "Blessed be the name of His glorious sovereignty for ever and ever" and then resumes the reading of the first section in the regular order from the verse, "And thou shalt love the Lord, thy God,…"to the end of the section. Why is the sentence above mentioned interpolated? We have a tradition that when the patriarch Jacob, residing in Egypt, gathered his sons about him, in his dying hour, he earnestly charged them concerning the Unity of God and the Way of the Lord in which Abraham and his father Isaac had walked. He questioned them, saying to them, "Possibly, my sons, there is some one among you who is unworthy, and is not at one with me on the doctrine of the Unity of the Creator of the World," in the same way as our teacher Moses charged the people in the words, "Lest there be among you a man or a woman … whose heart turneth away this day" (Deuteronomy 29:17). They all answered, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one." This means, "Our father, Israel, hear this, our [confession of faith]: 'the Lord our God is one Lord'". The aged patriarch then ejaculated, "Blessed be the name of His glorious Sovereignty for ever and ever." Hence, all Israelites keep the custom of reciting, after the first verse of the Shema, the thanksgiving uttered by the Patriarch Israel.

5 ה

הַקּוֹרֵא קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע מְבָרֵךְ לְפָנֶיהָ וּלְאַחֲרֶיהָ. בַּיּוֹם מְבָרֵךְ שְׁתַּיִם לְפָנֶיהָ וְאַחַת לְאַחֲרֶיהָ. וּבַלַּיְלָה מְבָרֵךְ שְׁתַּיִם לְפָנֶיהָ וּשְׁתַּיִם לְאַחֲרֶיהָ:

Blessings are recited before the Shema and after it. When reading the Shema by day, two blessings are recited before it, and one after it. When reading it at night, two blessings are recited before, and two after it.

6 ו

בְּרָכָה רִאשׁוֹנָה שֶׁלְּפָנֶיהָ בַּיּוֹם יוֹצֵר אוֹר וּבוֹרֵא חשֶׁךְ וְכוּ׳‎ וּבְרָכָה שְׁנִיָּה אַהֲבַת עוֹלָם אֲהַבְתָּנוּ. וְשֶׁל אַחֲרֶיהָ אֱמֶת וְיַצִּיב. וּבְרָכָה רִאשׁוֹנָה שֶׁלְּפָנֶיהָ בַּלַּיְלָה מַעֲרִיב עֲרָבִים וְכוּ׳‎ שְׁנִיָּה לָהּ אַהֲבַת עוֹלָם בֵּית יִשְׂרָאֵל עַמְּךָ אָהַבְתָּ כוּ׳‎. וּבְרָכָה רִאשׁוֹנָה שֶׁל אַחֲרֶיהָ אֱמֶת וֶאֱמוּנָה. שְׁנִיָּה לָהּ הַשְׁכִּיבֵנוּ:

The former of the two blessings recited before the Shema by day, is that beginning, "Who formest light and createst darkness." The latter is that beginning, "With everlasting love hast Thou loved us." The blessing subsequent to the Shema is that beginning, "True and Firm." The former of the two blessings recited before the Shema at night is that beginning, "Who bringest on the evening twilight." The latter begins "With everlasting love hast Thou loved Thy people Israel." The former of the blessings, recited after it, is that beginning, "True and trustworthy." The latter, that beginning, "Cause us to lie down [O Lord, our God, in peace."]

7 ז

בְּרָכָה רִאשׁוֹנָה שֶׁלְּפָנֶיהָ בֵּין בַּיּוֹם בֵּין בַּלַּיְלָה פּוֹתֵחַ בָּהּ בְּבָרוּךְ וְחוֹתֵם בָּהּ בְּבָרוּךְ. וּשְׁאָר בִּרְכוֹתֶיהָ חוֹתֵם בְּכָל אַחַת מֵהֶן בְּבָרוּךְ וְאֵין לָהֶם פְּתִיחָה בְּבָרוּךְ. בְּרָכוֹת אֵלּוּ עִם שְׁאָר כָּל הַבְּרָכוֹת הָעֲרוּכוֹת בְּפִי כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל עֶזְרָא הַסּוֹפֵר וּבֵית דִּינוֹ תִּקְּנוּם וְאֵין אָדָם רַשַּׁאי לִפְחֹת מֵהֶם וְלֹא לְהוֹסִיף עֲלֵיהֶם. מָקוֹם שֶׁהִתְקִינוּ לַחְתֹּם בְּבָרוּךְ אֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי שֶׁלֹּא לַחְתֹּם. וּמָקוֹם שֶׁהִתְקִינוּ שֶׁלֹּא לַחְתֹּם אֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי לַחְתֹּם. מָקוֹם שֶׁהִתְקִינוּ שֶׁלֹּא לִפְתֹּחַ בְּבָרוּךְ אֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי לִפְתֹּחַ. מָקוֹם שֶׁהִתְקִינוּ לִפְתֹּחַ אֵינוֹ רַשַּׁאי שֶׁלֹּא לִפְתֹּחַ. כְּלָלוֹ שֶׁל דָּבָר כָּל הַמְשַׁנֶּה מִמַּטְבֵּעַ שֶׁטָּבְעוּ חֲכָמִים בַּבְּרָכוֹת הֲרֵי זֶה טוֹעֶה וְחוֹזֵר וּמְבָרֵךְ כַּמַּטְבֵּעַ. וְכָל שֶׁאֵינוֹ אוֹמֵר אֱמֶת וְיַצִּיב בְּשַׁחֲרִית וֶאֱמֶת וֶאֱמוּנָה בְּעַרְבִית לֹא יָצָא יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ:

The first of the blessings recited before the Shema, whether by day or at night, is introduced with the formula, "Blessed [art Thou, O Lord our God, King of the Universe]" and concludes with the formula, "Blessed [art Thou, O Lord]." Of the other blessings, each concludes with the formula, "Blessed [art Thou, O Lord]" but are not introduced with the formula, "Blessed art Thou …" These blessings as well as all the other blessings with which all Israel are familiar were instituted by Ezra and his court and no one is permitted to take aught away from the wording or add to it. The blessings which they (Ezra and his colleagues) ordained to conclude with the formula, "Blessed [art Thou etc.]" may not be recited without this formula. Those which they ordained should conclude without this formula may not be recited with it. Those which they ordained not to begin with a benedictory formula, may not be begun with it. Those which they ordained should begin with it may not be begun without it. In short, whoever alters the form the Sages gave to the blessings commits an error and must recite the blessing again according to its prescribed form. Whoever does not recite the blessing beginning, "True and firm" in the morning, and that beginning, "True and trustworthy" in the evening has not fulfilled his duty.

8 ח

הִקְדִּים בְּרָכָה שְׁנִיָּה לִבְרָכָה רִאשׁוֹנָה בֵּין בַּיּוֹם בֵּין בַּלַּיְלָה בֵּין לְפָנֶיהָ בֵּין לְאַחֲרֶיהָ יָצָא לְפִי שֶׁאֵין סֵדֶר בַּבְּרָכוֹת. בְּשַׁחֲרִית פָּתַח יוֹצֵר אוֹר וְסִיֵּם מַעֲרִיב עֲרָבִים לֹא יָצָא. פָּתַח בְּמַעֲרִיב עֲרָבִים וְסִיֵּם בְּיוֹצֵר אוֹר יָצָא. וּבָעֶרֶב פָּתַח בְּמַעֲרִיב עֲרָבִים וְסִיֵּם בְּיוֹצֵר אוֹר לֹא יָצָא. פָּתַח בְּיוֹצֵר אוֹר וְסִיֵּם בְּמַעֲרִיב עֲרָבִים יָצָא. שֶׁכָּל הַבְּרָכוֹת הוֹלְכוֹת אַחַר חֲתִימָתָן:

If one has recited the second blessing before the first, either in the Morning or in the Evening Service, and whether the blessings thus transposed are those recited before or after the Shema, he has fulfilled his duty; for no order has been statutorily fixed for the blessings. If, in the morning service, one began the first blessing with the formula, "Who createst light" and concluded it with the formula, "Who bringest on the evening twilight," he has not fulfilled his duty. But if one began with the formula, "who bringest on the evening twilight" and concluded with the formula, "who createst light" he has fulfilled his duty. Thus too, in the evening service, if one began with the formula, "who bringest on the evening twilight" and concluded with the formula, "who createst light" he has not fulfilled his duty; but if one began with the formula, "who createst light" and concluded with the formula, "who bringest on the evening twilight" he has fulfilled his duty; for the essential element in all Blessings is the Conclusion.

9 ט

אֵיזֶה הוּא זְמַן קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע בַּלַּיְלָה. מִצְוָתָהּ מִשְּׁעַת יְצִיאַת הַכּוֹכָבִים עַד חֲצִי הַלַּיְלָה. וְאִם עָבַר וְאִחֵר וְקָרָא עַד שֶׁלֹּא עָלָה עַמּוּד הַשַּׁחַר יָצָא יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ שֶׁלֹּא אָמְרוּ עַד חֲצוֹת אֶלָּא כְּדֵי לְהַרְחִיק אָדָם מִן הַפְּשִׁיעָה:

When is the time for reading the Shema? In the evening, the duty is correctly performed if it is read at any time from the first appearance of the stars till midnight. If one however transgressed and delayed, but read the Shema before daybreak, he has discharged the obligation. The Sages fixed midnight as the limit only in order to prevent complete violation.

10 י

הַקּוֹרֵא קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע שֶׁל עַרְבִית אַחַר שֶׁיַּעֲלֶה עַמּוּד הַשַּׁחַר קֹדֶם הָנֵץ הַחַמָּה לֹא יָצָא יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ אֶלָּא אִם כֵּן הָיָה אָנוּס כְּגוֹן שִׁכּוֹר אוֹ חוֹלֶה וְכַיּוֹצֵא בָּהֶן. וְאָנוּס שֶׁקָּרָא בְּעֵת זֶה אֵינוֹ אוֹמֵר הַשְׁכִּיבֵנוּ:

One who reads the Evening Shema after dawn but before sunrise has not discharged his obligation, unless he had been unavoidably prevented from reading it earlier, as, for instance, if he had been inebriated or sick, etc. Anyone who unavoidably delays reading the Shema till this time does not recite the Blessing beginning, "Cause us to lie down in peace."

11 יא

וְאֵי זֶה הוּא זְמַנָּה בַּיּוֹם. מִצְוָתָהּ שֶׁיַּתְחִיל לִקְרוֹת קֹדֶם הָנֵץ הַחַמָּה כְּדֵי שֶׁיִּגְמֹר לִקְרוֹת וּלְבָרֵךְ בְּרָכָה אַחֲרוֹנָה עִם הָנֵץ הַחַמָּה. וְשִׁעוּר זֶה כְּמוֹ [עִשּׂוּר] שָׁעָה קֹדֶם שֶׁתַּעֲלֶה הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ. וְאִם אִחֵר וְקָרָא קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע אַחַר שֶׁתַּעֲלֶה הַשֶּׁמֶשׁ יָצָא יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ שֶׁעוֹנָתָהּ עַד סוֹף שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁעוֹת בַּיּוֹם לְמִי שֶׁעָבַר וְאִחֵר:

When is the right time for reading the Shema by day? To observe the precept properly, one should begin reading it before sunrise, so as to conclude the recital of the Blessing after the Shema exactly at sunrise. This interval is about a tenth of an hour before the Sun rises. One who deferred reading the Shema till the Sun had risen, has discharged his obligation—the period for reading the Shema being extended, for one who delayed, to the end of the first three hours of the day.

12 יב

מִי שֶׁהִקְדִּים וְקָרָא קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע שֶׁל שַׁחֲרִית אַחַר שֶׁיַּעֲלֶה עַמּוּד הַשַּׁחַר אַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהִשְׁלִים קֹדֶם שֶׁתָּנֵץ הַחַמָּה יָצָא יְדֵי חוֹבָתוֹ. וּבִשְׁעַת הַדְּחָק כְּגוֹן שֶׁהָיָה מַשְׁכִּים לָצֵאת לַדֶּרֶךְ קוֹרֵא לְכַתְּחִלָּה מִשֶּׁעָלָה עַמּוּד הַשַּׁחַר:

If one anticipated the hour and read the Shema of the Morning Service after dawn, he has fulfilled his duty, even if he concluded it before sunrise. In case of urgency, as for instance, when one has risen early in order to set out on a journey, he may deliberately read it before dawn.

13 יג

הַקּוֹרֵא אַחַר שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁעוֹת בַּיּוֹם אֲפִלּוּ הָיָה אָנוּס לֹא יָצָא יְדֵי חוֹבַת קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע בְּעוֹנָתוֹ. אֶלָּא הֲרֵי הוּא כְּקוֹרֵא בַּתּוֹרָה. וּמְבָרֵךְ לְפָנֶיהָ וּלְאַחֲרֶיהָ כָּל הַיּוֹם אֲפִלּוּ אִחֵר וְקָרָא אַחַר שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁעוֹת:

If one reads the Shema after the first three hours of the day are gone, even though he had been unavoidably prevented from doing so earlier, he has not fulfilled the duty of reading the Shema at the right time. He is in the same category with one who reads the Torah. Still he recites the blessings that precede and follow it, at any part of the day, even if he delayed the reading till after the first three hours of the morning had elapsed.