Similarly, Rabbi Ḥanan said: Even if the master of dreams, in a true dream, an angel (Ma’ayan HaBerakhot) tells a person that tomorrow he will die, he should not prevent himself from praying for mercy, as it is stated: “For in the multitude of dreams and vanities there are many words; but fear God” (Ecclesiastes 5:6). Although the dream may seem real to him, that is not necessarily the case, and one must place his trust in God. Having heard Isaiah’s harsh prophecy, immediately “Hezekiah turned his face toward the wall and prayed to the Lord” (Isaiah 38:2). The Gemara asks: What is meant by the word “wall [kir]” in this context? Why did Hezekiah turn his face to a wall? Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said: This symbolically alludes to the fact that Hezekiah prayed to God from the chambers [kirot] of his heart, as it is stated elsewhere: “My anguish, my anguish, I am in pain. The chambers of my heart. My heart moans within me” (Jeremiah 4:19). Rabbi Levi said: Hezekiah intended to evoke matters relating to a wall, and he said before God: Master of the Universe, and if the woman from Shunem, who made only a single small wall on the roof for the prophet Elisha, and you revived her son, all the more so should you bring life to the descendant of my father’s father, King Solomon, who covered the entire Temple Sanctuary with silver and gold. In his prayer, Hezekiah said: “Please, Lord, please remember that I walked before You in truth, and with a complete heart, and what was good in Your eyes I did. And Hezekiah wept sore” (Isaiah 38:3). The Gemara asks: To what specific action was he referring when he said: “And what was good in your sight I did”? Various opinions are offered: Mentioning Hezekiah’s merits, Rav Yehuda said in the name of Rav that he juxtaposed redemption and prayer at sunrise instead of sleeping late, as was the custom of most kings (Iyyun Ya’akov). Rabbi Levi said: He suppressed the Book of Remedies upon which everyone relied. The Sages taught: King Hezekiah performed six innovative actions. With regard to three the Sages agreed with him, and with regard to three they did not agree with him. With regard to three actions the Sages agreed with him:
He suppressed the Book of Remedies, and they agreed with him.
He ground the copper snake through which miracles were performed for Israel (Numbers 21:9), destroying it because it had been used in idol worship (II Kings 18:4), and they agreed with him.
He dragged the bones of his evil father, King Ahaz, on a bed of ropes; meaning he did not accord his father a funeral fit for a king (II Chronicles 28:27), and they agreed with him. Yet, with regard to three other innovations, the Sages of his generation did not agree with him:
He stopped up the waters of the Gihon, the Pool of Siloam, diverting its water into the city by means of a tunnel (II Chronicles 32:30), and they did not agree with him.
He cut off the doors of the Sanctuary and sent them to the king of Assyria (II Kings 18:16), and they did not agree with him.
He intercalated Nisan in Nisan, creating a leap year by adding an extra month during the month of Nisan. That intercalation must be performed before the end of Adar (II Chronicles 30:2). With regard to his intercalation of Nisan, the Gemara asks: Did Hezekiah not accept the halakha: “This month will be for you the first of the months; it shall be the first for you of the months of the year” (Exodus 12:2)? By inference, this first month is Nisan, and no other month is Nisan. How could Hezekiah add an additional Nisan in violation of Torah law? The Gemara answers that the scenario was different. Rather, Hezekiah erred with regard to the halakhic opinion ascribed in later generations to Shmuel, as Shmuel said: One may not intercalate the year on the thirtieth day of Adar, since it is fit to establish it as the New Moon of Nisan. On the thirtieth day of each month, those who witnessed the new moon would come and testify before the court, which, based on their testimony, would declare that day the first day of the next month. Therefore, one may not declare a leap year on the thirtieth day of Adar, as it could potentially become the first of Nisan. Therefore, the Sages of Hezekiah’s generation did not agree with his decision to intercalate the year on the thirtieth of Adar. Hezekiah held that we do not say: Since that day is fit to establish it as the New Moon is reason enough to refrain from intercalation of the year. Stemming from the analysis of Hezekiah’s prayer, Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Yosei ben Zimra: Anyone who bases his prayer or request upon his own merit, when God answers his prayer, it is based upon the merit of others. And anyone who modestly bases his prayer or request upon the merit of others, when God answers his prayer, it is based upon his own merit. The Gemara cites proof from Moses. When he prayed to God for forgiveness after the incident of the Golden Calf, he based his request upon the merit of others, as it is stated: “Remember Abraham, Isaac and Israel your servants, to whom You swore upon Yourself, and told them: I will increase your descendants like the stars of the heavens, and all of this land of which I have spoken, I will give to your descendants and they will inherit it forever” (Exodus 32:13). Yet when this story is related, God’s forgiveness of Israel is based upon Moses’ own merit, as it is stated: “And He said He would destroy them, had Moses, His chosen, not stood before Him in the breach to turn back His destructive fury, lest He should destroy them” (Psalms 106:23). Hezekiah, however, based his request upon his own merit, as it is written: “Please, remember that I walked before You” (Isaiah 38:3). When God answered his prayers, it was based upon the merit of others with no mention made of Hezekiah’s own merit, as it is stated: “And I will protect this city to save it, for My sake and for the sake of David, My servant” (II Kings 19:34). And that is what Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said. As Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Behold, for my peace I had great bitterness; but You have, in love to my soul, delivered it from the pit of corruption; for You have thrown all my sins behind Your back” (Isaiah 38:17)? This verse teaches that even when the Holy One, Blessed be He, sent him peace and told him that he would recover from his illness, it was bitter for him, because God did not take his merit into consideration. Having mentioned the chamber on the roof built for Elisha by the woman from Shunem, the Gemara now describes the entire event. The woman from Shunem suggested to her husband: “Let us make, I pray thee, a small chamber on the roof, and let us place a bed, table, stool and candlestick for him there, and it will be, when he comes to us, that he will turn in there” (II Kings 4:10). Rav and Shmuel argued over the meaning of small chamber. One of them said: They had an uncovered second story on their roof, over which they built a ceiling; and one of them said: There was an enclosed veranda [akhsadra] and they divided it in half. The Gemara comments: Granted, according to the one who said that it was an enclosed veranda which they divided in two, it makes sense that the term wall [kir] was written. However, according to the one who said that they had an open second story, what is the meaning of wall? The Gemara responds: The one who said that they had an uncovered second story interprets kir not as wall but as ceiling meaning that they built a ceiling [kirui] over it. On the other hand, granted, according to the one who said that they had an uncovered second story, it makes sense that the term second story [aliyat] was written. But according to the one who said that it was an enclosed veranda, what is the meaning of the term second story? The Gemara responds: The one who said that it was an enclosed veranda interprets aliyat not as second story, but as the most outstanding [me’ula] of the rooms. Incidental to this discussion, the Gemara analyzes the statement made by the woman from Shunem to her husband with regard to the provisions that they would place in the room for Elisha: “And let us place a bed, table, stool and candlestick for him there.” Abaye, and some say Rabbi Yitzḥak, said: A great man who seeks to enjoy the contributions of those who seek to honor him may enjoy those gifts, as Elisha enjoyed gifts given him by the woman from Shunem, among others. And one who does not seek to enjoy these gifts should not enjoy them, as was the practice of the prophet Samuel from Rama, who would not accept gifts from anyone at all. From where do we know that this was Samuel’s custom? As it is stated: “And he returned to Rama, for there was his house, and there he judged Israel, and he built an altar to the Lord” (I Samuel 7:17). And similarly, Rabbi Yoḥanan said: Every place where Samuel went, his house was with him, so he would have everything that he needed and not be forced to benefit from public contributions. One may opt to conduct himself in accordance with either of these paths. Regarding the woman from Shunem: “And she said to her husband: Behold now, I perceive that he is a holy man of God who passes by us continually” (II Kings 4:9). Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said: From here, where the woman from Shunem perceived the prophet’s greatness before her husband did, derive that a woman recognizes the character of her guests more than a man does. The Gemara notes that the woman from Shunem said that “he is holy.” The Gemara asks: From where did she know that he was holy? Rav and Shmuel disagreed over this. One of them said: She never saw a fly pass over his table; and the other said: She spread a white linen sheet on his bed, and despite that even the smallest stain is visible on white linen, and nocturnal seminal emissions are not uncommon, she never saw the residue of a seminal emission on it. With regard to the verse: “He is holy,” Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said: The woman from Shunem intimated that: He is holy, but his attendant, Geihazi, is not holy, as she saw no indication of holiness in him (Iyyun Ya’akov). Here too, she correctly perceived the character of her guest, as it is later stated: “And Geihazi approached her to push her away [lehodfa]” (II Kings 4:27). And Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said: He grabbed her by the majesty of her beauty [hod yofya], meaning that when he pushed her he grabbed her breasts in a licentious manner. With regard to the phrasing of the verse: “He is a holy man of God who passes by us continually,” Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said in the name of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov: From this verse we derive that one who hosts a Torah scholar in his home and lets him enjoy his possessions, the verse ascribes to him credit as if he is sacrificing the daily [tamid] offering, as the verse states: “Passes by us continually [tamid].” With regard to the halakhot of prayer, Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said in the name of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov: A person should not stand in a high place and pray; rather, he should stand in a low place and pray, as it is stated: “I called to You, Lord, from the depths” (Psalms 130:1). That was also taught in a baraita: One should neither stand upon a chair nor upon a stool, nor in a high place and pray. Rather, one should stand in a low place and pray, for there is no haughtiness before God. As it is stated: “I called to You, Lord, from the depths” and it is written: “A prayer for the impoverished, when he is faint and pours out his complaint before God” (Psalms 102:1). It is appropriate to feel impoverished when praying and make one’s requests humbly. And Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said in the name of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov: When praying, one should align his feet next to each other, as a single foot, in order to model oneself after the angels, with regard to whom it is stated: “And their feet were a straight foot” (Ezekiel 1:7). Rabbi Yitzḥak said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said and Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said in the name of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov: What is the meaning of that which is written: “You shall not eat with the blood” (Leviticus 19:26)? You may not eat before you pray for your blood. One may not eat before he prays. Others say that Rabbi Yitzḥak said that Rabbi Yoḥanan said that Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Ḥanina, said in the name of Rabbi Eliezer ben Ya’akov: One who eats and drinks and later prays, about him the verse states the rebuke of the prophet in the name of God: “And Me you have cast behind your back” (I Kings 14:9). One who sees to his own bodily needs by eating and drinking before prayer casts God aside, according his arrogance and ego priority over God (Maharsha). Indeed, do not read your back [gavekha]; rather, your pride [ge’ekha]. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: After this one has become arrogant and engaged in satisfying his own needs, he only then accepted upon himself the kingdom of Heaven. We learned in the mishna that Rabbi Yehoshua says: One may recite the morning Shema until three hours of the day. Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: The halakha is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua. We also learned in the mishna that one who recites Shema from that time onward loses nothing; although he does not fulfill the mitzva of reciting of Shema at its appointed time, he is nevertheless considered like one who reads the Torah, and is rewarded accordingly. With regard to this ruling, Rav Ḥisda said that Mar Ukva said: This only applies provided one does not recite: Who forms light [yotzer or], or the rest of the blessings recited along with Shema, as they pertain only to the fulfillment of the mitzva of reciting of the morning Shema; after the third hour, they are inappropriate. The Gemara raises an objection to Rav Ḥisda’s statement from a baraita: One who recites Shema from that time onward loses nothing, and is considered like one who reads Torah, but he recites two blessings beforehand and one blessing thereafter.This directly contradicts Rav Ḥisda’s statement, and the Gemara notes: Indeed, the refutation of the statement of Rav Ḥisda is a conclusive refutation, and Rav Ḥisda’s opinion is rejected in favor of that of the baraita. Some say that Rav Ḥisda said that Mar Ukva said the opposite: What is the meaning of: Loses nothing, in the mishna? This means that one who recites Shema after the third hour does not lose the opportunity to recite the blessings and is permitted to recite them although the time for the recitation of Shema has passed. That was also taught in a baraita: One who recites Shema after this time loses nothing, and is considered like one who reads the Torah, but he recites two blessings beforehand and one thereafter. With regard to our mishna, Rabbi Mani said: Greater is one who recites Shema at its appropriate time than one who engages in Torah study. A proof is cited based on what was taught in the mishna: One who recites Shema after this time loses nothing and is considered like one who reads the Torah. This is proven by inference, since one who recites Shema at its appointed time is greater than one who does not, and one who does not is equal to one who reads the Torah, when one recites Shema at its appointed time he fulfills two mitzvot, that of Torah study and that of the recitation of Shema. MISHNA: Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel disputed the proper way to recite Shema. Beit Shammai say: One should recite Shema in the manner indicated in the text of Shema itself. Therefore, in the evening every person must recline on his side and recite Shema, in fulfillment of the verse: “When you lie down,” and in the morning he must stand and recite Shema, in fulfillment of the verse: When you rise, as it is stated: “When you lie down, and when you rise.” And Beit Hillel say: Every person recites Shema as he is, and he may do so in whatever position is most comfortable for him, both day and night, as it is stated: “And when you walk along the way,” when one is neither standing nor reclining (Me’iri). If so, according to Beit Hillel, why was it stated: “When you lie down, and when you rise”? This is merely to denote time; at the time when people lie down and the time when people rise. With regard to this halakha, Rabbi Tarfon said: Once, I was coming on the road when I stopped and reclined to recite Shema in accordance with the statement of Beit Shammai. Although Rabbi Tarfon was a disciple of Beit Hillel, he thought that fulfilling the mitzva in accordance with the opinion of Beit Shammai would be a more meticulous fulfillment of the mitzva, acceptable to all opinions. Yet in so doing, I endangered myself due to the highwaymen [listim] who accost travelers. The Sages said to him: You deserved to be in a position where you were liable to pay with your life, as you transgressed the statement of Beit Hillel. This statement will be explained in the Gemara. GEMARA: The Gemara begins by clarifying the rationale for Beit Shammai’s opinion. Granted, Beit Hillel explain the rationale for their opinion and the rationale for Beit Shammai’s opinion. Beit Hillel explain both the verse that ostensibly supports Beit Shammai’s opinion: When you lie down, at the time when people lie down, etc., and the verse that proves that their own explanation is more reasonable: “And when you walk along the way.” However, what is the reason that Beit Shammai do not state their opinion in accordance with the opinion of Beit Hillel? The Gemara answers, Beit Shammai could have said to you: If so that the verse means only to denote the time for the recitation of Shema, as claimed by Beit Hillel, then let the verse say: “In the morning and in the evening.” What is the meaning of the ambiguous formulation: “When you lie down, and when you rise”? It must mean that at the time of lying down one must recite Shema while actually lying down, and at the time of arising one must recite Shema while actually risen. The Gemara continues, asking: And what do Beit Shammai do with this verse: “And when you walk along the way,” which Beit Hillel use to prove that every person recites Shema as he is? The Gemara answers: Beit Shammai need this verse in order to derive other halakhot, as it was taught in a baraita which interpreted this verse that the obligation to recite Shema applies when you sit in your home, to the exclusion of one who is engaged in performance of a mitzva, who is exempt from the recitation of Shema; and when you walk along the way, to the exclusion of a groom, who is also exempt from the recitation of Shema. The baraita adds that from here, from this interpretation of the verses, they said: One who marries a virgin is exempt from the recitation of Shema on his wedding night, but one who marries a widow is obligated. The Gemara clarifies the meaning of this baraita, and asks: From where may it be inferred that the verse, when you walk along the way, exempts a groom from the obligation to recite Shema? Rav Pappa said that we learn: Like the way; just as the journey along a specific way described in the verse is voluntary and involves no mitzva, so too all of those who are obligated to recite Shema are engaged in voluntary activities. However, one engaged in the performance of a mitzva, like a groom, is exempt from the obligation to recite Shema. The Gemara asks: Are we not dealing with a case where one walks along the way to perform a mitzva? The Torah did not designate the objective of his walk and, nevertheless, the Torah said to recite Shema, indicating that one is obligated even if he set out to perform a mitzva. Rather, the proof is from the formulation of the verse. If so, that the intention was to obligate in all cases, let the Torah write: When sitting and when walking. What is the meaning of: When you sit and when you walk? Certainly these additions come to emphasize in your sitting down and in your walking, meaning that when one does this for his own purposes and of his own volition, he is obligated to recite Shema, but when he does with the objective of performing a mitzva, he is exempt from reciting Shema, as in that case he is sitting or walking at God’s behest. The conclusion is that anyone engaged in the performance of a mitzva is exempt from the recitation of Shema. If so, even one who marries a widow should be exempt, for he, too, is engaged in performance of a mitzva. That, however, contradicts the baraita. The Gemara responds that there is nevertheless a distinction between one marrying a virgin and one marrying a widow. One who marries a virgin is preoccupied by his concern lest he discover that his bride is not a virgin, while one who marries a widow is not preoccupied. The conclusion is that the groom is exempt from reciting Shema because he is preoccupied. The Gemara asks: If the exemption is due to preoccupation, then even one who is preoccupied because his ship sank at sea should also be exempt. The Gemara reinforces its question: And if you say that in this case as well, when one’s ship sank at sea, one is exempt, why then did Rabbi Abba bar Zavda say that Rav said: A mourner is obligated in all the mitzvot mentioned in the Torah except for the mitzva to don phylacteries, from which a mourner is exempt, as the term splendor is stated with regard to phylacteries, as it is stated: “Make no mourning for the dead, bind your splendor upon yourself” (Ezekiel 24:17). It is inappropriate for a mourner to wrap himself in phylacteries, with regard to which, the term splendor was employed (Tosafot). If a mourner, who is clearly pained and preoccupied, is obligated to recite Shema, then certainly all others who are preoccupied, even one whose ship sank at sea, whose loss was merely monetary (Birkat Hashem), should be obligated. Why, then, is a groom exempted because of his preoccupation and one who lost his property is not? The Gemara answers: Nevertheless, there is a distinction between the cases. For there, in the case of a groom, he is preoccupied with the preoccupation of a mitzva that he must perform; here, in the case of a ship lost at sea, he is preoccupied with the preoccupation of a voluntary act that he chooses to perform. Here, the Gemara returns to its initial question: And how do Beit Shammai explain the passage: “When you walk along the way” (Rashash)? The Gemara answers: Beit Shammai need this passage in order to exclude one who is on the path to perform a mitzva from the obligation to recite Shema. Beit Hillel also agree that one engaged in the performance of a mitzva is exempt from reciting Shema? If so, the halakha that they derived from: When you walk along the way lacks a source and is therefore unfounded. And Beit Hillel say: Derive from this halakha itself that one who is not an agent in the performance of a mitzva recites Shema even along the way. The Sages taught in a baraita that Beit Hillel say: One may recite Shema in any situation: Standing and reciting, sitting and reciting, reclining and reciting, walking and reciting and even working and reciting. And in the Tosefta an incident is related where two tanna’im, Rabbi Yishmael and Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya, who were both disciples of Beit Hillel, were reclining at a meal in one place together with their students, and Rabbi Yishmael was reclined as was the customary dining position, and Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya was upright. When the time to recite the evening Shema arrived, Rabbi Elazar reclined to recite Shema in accordance with the opinion of Beit Shammai, while Rabbi Yishmael sat upright to recite Shema. Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya appeared to take offense, and said to Rabbi Yishmael: Yishmael, my brother, I will tell you a parable to which this is similar. It is comparable to a situation where one to whom people say as a compliment: Your beard is full and suits you. That man says to them: May it be against those who shave and destroy their beards, i.e., the only reason I grow my beard is to irritate those who cut their own (Rashba). You are the same. As long as I am upright, you are reclined, and now when I reclined lauding your conduct and emulating you, you sat upright as if to demonstrate that whatever I do, you do the opposite. Rabbi Yishmael said to him: I acted in accordance with the opinion of Beit Hillel, according to whom one may recite Shema in any position, while you acted in accordance with the opinion of Beit Shammai. I am the one who acted in accordance with the halakha. And furthermore, I was concerned lest the students see your conduct and establish the halakha for generations accordingly. It was therefore necessary for me to demonstrate that there is no obligation to do so. The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of: And furthermore? Why was it necessary for Rabbi Yishmael to add additional justification for his actions when the reason that he acted in accordance with the opinion of Beit Hillel was sufficient? The Gemara answers: It was necessary for him to add this reason, as if you say: Beit Hillel also hold that one is permitted to recite Shema while reclining and Rabbi Yishmael could have remained reclining even in accordance with the opinion of Beit Hillel, but this only applies when one had already been reclining originally, in which case it is like any other position. However, here, since until now he had been upright, and now he is reclined, the students will say: Conclude from this, that they hold in accordance with the opinion of Beit Shammai. Due to the concern that the students might see and establish the halakha for generations in accordance with the opinion of Beit Shammai, it was necessary for Rabbi Yishmael to sit upright. Rav Yeḥezkel taught: One who acted in accordance with the opinion of Beit Shammai has acted appropriately and is not in violation of the halakha. One who acted in accordance with the opinion of Beit Hillel acted appropriately as well. According to this opinion, Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai agree that one who acted in accordance with the opinion of the other fulfilled his obligation. Although the halakha was ruled in accordance with the opinion of Beit Hillel, Beit Hillel would agree that one who acted in accordance with the opinion of Beit Shammai fulfilled his obligation. However, Rav Yosef said: One who acts in accordance with the opinion of Beit Shammai has done nothing and must repeat Shema in accordance with the opinion of Beit Hillel, as we learned in the mishna with regard to the halakhot of a sukka: One who had his head and most of his body in the sukka, and his table upon which he was eating inside the house, Beit Shammai invalidate his action, as he is liable to be drawn after the table and end up eating outside the sukka. And Beit Hillel validate his action, since his head and most of his body remain inside the sukka. Beit Hillel said to Beit Shammai as a proof: There was an incident where the elders of Beit Shammai and the elders of Beit Hillel went on Sukkot to visit Rabbi Yoḥanan ben HaḤoranit. They found him with his head and most of his body in the sukka and his table inside the house and they said nothing to him. In other words, even Beit Shammai did not object. Beit Shammai said to them: And is there proof from there? That is not what happened, rather they said to him explicitly: If you have been accustomed to act in this manner, you have never in your life fulfilled the mitzva of sukka. We see that Beit Shammai held that anyone who did not act in accordance with their opinion, did not fulfill his obligation at all. Similarly, since Beit Hillel’s opinion was accepted as halakha, anyone who acts in accordance with the opinion of Beit Shammai fails to fulfill his obligation. Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak stated an even more extreme opinion: One who acted in accordance with the opinion of Beit Shammai has acted so egregiously that he is liable to receive the death penalty, as we learned in our mishna that Rabbi Tarfon said to his colleagues: Once, I was coming on the road when I stopped and reclined to recite Shema in accordance with the statement of Beit Shammai. Yet in so doing, I endangered myself due to the highwaymen who accost travelers. The Sages said to him: You deserved to be in a position where you were liable to pay with your life, as you transgressed the statement of Beit Hillel. MISHNA: From the laws of the recitation of Shema itself, the mishna proceeds to discuss the blessings recited in conjunction with Shema. Here, the order is established: In the morning when reciting Shema, one recites two blessings beforehand, the first on the radiant lights and the second the blessing on the love of Torah, and one thereafter, which begins with: True and Firm [emet veyatziv]. And in the evening one recites two blessings beforehand, on the radiant lights and on the love of God, and two thereafter, the blessing of redemption: True and Faithful [emet ve’emuna], and the blessing: Help us lie down. With regard to the blessing: True and Faithful, whether one recites it in its long formula and whether one recites it in its short formula, he fulfills his obligation (Tosafot). However, the general principle is: Where the Sages said to recite a long blessing, one may not shorten it, and so too, wherever they said to recite a short blessing, one may not lengthen it. Where the Sages said that a blessing must conclude with a second blessing at the end, he may not fail to conclude with that blessing. Similarly, if the Sages said that a blessing must not conclude with a second blessing, one may not conclude with a blessing. GEMARA: The Gemara begins by determining the formula of the two blessings preceding the morning Shema. The Gemara asks: What blessing does one recite? Rabbi Ya’akov said in the name of Rabbi Oshaya: The blessing focuses on the verse: