Wednesday, April 02, 2008

"Midnight" Madness--re the bedtime Sh'ma

Yep, we've been down this road before: See Morning Madness--on davvenning Shacharit (on prayer the morning service), a previous rant of mine.

All the Torah/Bible said was "Hear, Israel, HaShem is your G-d, HaShem is one. You should love HaShem your G-d with all you heart, and with all your soul and with all your resources. And these words which I command you this day . . . you should teach them thoroughly to your children, speaking of them . . . when you lie down and when you arise." (Devarim Vaetchanan, Deuteronomy chapter 6, verses 4-7--translation part ArtScroll siddur's/prayer book's and part mine).

Okay, so we know that we have to say the first paragraph of the Sh'ma (some say all three paragraphs) before going to sleep. And sure, how often does a Jew do anything without saying a brachah/blessing first? But how did we get from a blessing followed by the Sh'ma to a four-page extravaganza? As far as I'm concerned, once I've recited the brachah and the Sh'ma, I've fulfilled the requirement, and I can jolly well go to bed.

Next up: My take on Tachanun


Blogger Tzipporah said...

We just say the initial statement -"Shema, Yisrael, Adonai eloheynu, Adonai echad" - and leave it at that. THOSE are the words we're supposed to teach and say twice a day. Otherwise, it's sort of like starting out your speech with:

"Open with this joke..."
You don't read the instructions out loud. ;)

Wed Apr 02, 06:51:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

"You don't read the instructions out loud. ;)" I have to admit that I've never thought of second sentence of the first paragraph of the Sh'ma quite that way.

Wed Apr 02, 08:03:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Drew Kaplan said...

Related to this are a couple of pieces of mine: 1) Saying Shema on the Bed in the Talmud and 2) pages 84-86 of my "Rabbinic Sleep Ethics: Jewish Sleep Conduct in Late Antiquity," Milin Havivin 2 (2006): 83-93.

Tue Apr 08, 01:45:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Shira Salamone said...

Drew, your post on Saying Shema on the Bed reminds me of something I recently read on another blog. (Naturally, I can't find that post. :( ) The discussion concerned whether it was proper to use a mitzvah (commandment) as a segula (roughly translated, a good-luck charm). A classic example would be a mezuzah: Do we put it on our door because a mezuzah is a reminder (to us or to HaShem?) that HaShem is Shomer Daltot Yisrael (Guardian of the Doors of Israel/The Jewish People)--the "segula explanation"--or because we're commanded in the Torah/Bible to write the words of the Shema on our doorposts? Same with the Bedtime Shema: Do we say it to protect ourselves while asleep or because we're commanded to say it when we lie down to sleep? Personally, I don't believe in segulot. I say the Bedtime Shema because the Torah says that a Jew should do so.

Thu Apr 10, 01:31:00 AM 2008  

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