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Siman 64 . Laws Concerning One Who Makes a Mistake in the Reading of the Shema

64:1. If one read the Shema out of order, (1) he has not fulfilled his obligation. This is in a case where he read (2) the verses out of order. However, if one read the paragraphs out of order, he has fulfilled his obligation, although one is not permitted to do this initially. [The three paragraphs are: a)"Shema Yisrael...v'Ahavta..."; b)"V'Hayah Im Shamoah..."; and c)"Va'Yomer...". - LC] This is because the paragraphs of the Shema (3) are not immediately adjacent to one another in the Torah [so there is no special reason to read them in order].

MB 1: He has not fulfilled his obligation - Because it is written in the Shema, "V'Hayu ha'D'varim haAyleh, etc." ("And these words shall be..."). This means that the words of the Shema must be in their proper form. One might think that this rule does not apply to the third paragraph ("Va'Yomer"), since one's obligation to say it as part of the Shema is of rabbinic origin. In fact, however, when the rabbis established the requirement to recite the third paragraph as part of the reading of the Shema (because it mentions the Exodus from Egypt), they decreed that it too must be recited in the proper order of the verses.

MB 2: The verses - And all the more so (one has not fulfilled one's obligation) if one read the words out of order (Pri Megadim [Rabbi Yosef Teomim, late 18th cent.]).

MB 3: Are not immediately adjacent - Meaning that the ordering of the three paragraphs is only a rabbinic decree. Proof of this is in the Talmud (Brachos 13a), where they discuss why it was ordained that the paragraph beginning "Shema" precedes the paragraph beginning "V'Hayah Im Shamaoh;" the reason given is that the acceptance of the yoke of Heaven (the main point of the verse "Shema Yisrael") should precede the acceptance of the yoke of the commandments (the main point of "V'Hayah Im Shamoah").

64:2. If one read a paragraph of the Shema (4) and made a mistake, if he knows where he erred (e.g., if one read the entire paragraph, but skipped (5) one verse in the middle) then he must return to the beginning of the verse in which the mistake occurred (6) and complete the paragraph from that point. If he does not know where he erred, then he must go back (7) to the beginning of the paragraph.

MB 4: And made a mistake in it - The Pri Chadash [Rabbi Chizkiya Da Silva, late 17th cent.] writes that this rule applies only if one _erred_, but if he deliberately said it incorrectly then he must return to the beginning of the paragraph, as is the ruling for the Amidah given later in 114:7. However, the Magen Avraham [Rabbi Avraham Abeli Gombiner, late 17th cent.] (in his commentary on Siman 104, sub-paragraph 6) is doubtful about the ruling in such a case (see there). This question will be clarified, G-d willing, in Siman 65 in MB 1 and in the Biyur Halacha [additional comments by the author of the Mishnah Brurah]. [There the Mishnah Brurah explains that even a person who spoke deliberately in the middle of Shema has fulfilled his obligation (although he has transgressed), but it is proper to return to the beginning of the paragraph. - LC]

MB 5: One verse - If one skipped a word, some authorities rule that it suffices to return to the same word, provided that it begins a phrase or idea, such as the word "v'Dibarta" ("and you shall speak") in the verse "V'Shinantam". [The verse reads "And you shall teach them (the words of the Shema) to your children, _and you shall speak_ about them when you sit in your house and when you are travelling on the way, and when you lie down and when you rise." "And you shall speak" begins a new phrase]. However, in the work Eliyahu Raba [Rabbi Eliyahu Shapira, early 18th cent.] the author rules on the basis of several early authorities that one must always return to the beginning of the verse in which the error occurred.

MB 6: And complete the paragraph - One must complete the entire paragraph from that verse, because otherwise he would be reading the verses out of order (which is forbidden in 64:1 above). Even if one remembered having skipped a verse from one paragraph after already completing another one, he only needs to read from the verse skipped until the end of the first paragraph, since maintaining the order of the paragraphs is not required to fulfill the obligation of reading the Shema (as mentioned in 64:1).

MB 7: To the beginning of the paragraph - Since one is in doubt about where he erred, he must return to the beginning of the paragraph. This is true even if one erred in the second paragraph, even according to those authorities who maintain that reading this paragraph is only a rabinnic requirement; since he is engaged in the reading of the Shema (where the requirement to read each paragraph in the proper order is very strict), one must correct every mistake. [Presumably this rule holds for the third paragraph, which is rabinnic in origin according to all authorities. - LC] If this situation occurred in the first paragraph, if one knows that one said the first verse ("Shema Yisrael...") and the following verse ("Baruch Shem K'vod Malchuso l'Olam Va'ed") with the required intent (as discussed in 60.5), then he needs only return to the verse beginning "v'Ahavta" ("And you shall love"). If he does not recall having read the verses "Shema Yisrael..." and "Baruch Shem ..." with proper intent, then even without this law he must return to the beginning of the entire paragraph (i.e., "Shema Yisrael..."), because not saying "Shema Yisrael" with the proper intent is like not saying it at all. One must therefore return to that verse and read in order. When he does so, he must say "Shema Yisrael" quietly or wait a little, so as to avoid any appearance of saying "Shema Shema" (and thereby appearing to recognize two Divine authorities, G-d forbid, as discussed in 61.9).

64:3. If one became confused between paragraphs of the Shema, meaning that he knows that he has just finished a paragraph, (8) but does not recall whether it was the first or second one, then he must assume that he is finishing the first paragraph and continue with the second.

MB 8: But does not recall - This rule refers to a situation where he does not recall having read a single word from the second paragraph, and where one has not yet begun the third paragraph ("Va'Yomer"). If, however, the doubt about which paragraph one had just finished arose after beginning the third paragraph, we assume that he had read the second paragraph and proceeded to the third paragraph according to habit. [It is implied that the same would be true if one recalled having read at least one word from the second paragraph. - LC]

Lawton Cooper


Siman 64. Laws Concerning One Who Makes a Mistake in the Reading of the Shema (cont.)

64:4. If one (9) has just read "Uchtavtam" [*] and does not know if he is at the "Uchtavtam" of the first paragraph or the second, then he should go back to the "Uchtavtam" of the first paragraph. This is only if he did not begin the verse "Lema'an yirbu yemeichem," [**] but (10) if did then (11) there is no need to go back, because this proves that he was finishing the second paragraph. [* - The first word of the verse "Uchtavtam al mezuzot beitecha uvisharecha" - And you shall write them on the door posts of your house and your gates. This verse is found in both the first and the second paragraph.] [** - So that your days will be many; the beginning of the verse following "Uchtavtam" in the second paragraph.]

MB 9: Has just read "Uchtavtam" - and the reason the Shulchan Aruch did not give "Ukshartam" [And you shall tie; the beginning of another verse that is also in both paragraphs] is because there is a difference between them; in the first it is with a kamatz [under the letter tav, i.e. "Ukshartam"] which is singular [meaning - And (singular) you shall tie them] and the second is with a segol, which is plural. The Ta"z gave another reason [why "Ukshartem" is not offered as a possible mistake], which is that it is unusual to make a mistake in the middle of a paragraph. This is because the reader will be able to tell from the amount of time that has passed since he started reading the [Shema, and know that he has been reading long enough that he could not merely be in the middle of the first paragraph]. However when he is at the end [of the paragraph], which takes more time to reach, he can err sometimes and think that he has finished the second paragraph.

MB 10: If he did - what he means is that in a case where one has already said these words, and only then does he worry that he said the "Lema'an" after the "Uchtavtam" of the first paragraph, he does not have to go back - we assume that he said according to habit, and therefore said "Lema'an yirbu" after the "Uchtavtam" in the second paragraph. All the more so if one finds himself at any other point in the middle of a paragraph [and does not recall what he read up to this point], we assume that he said all of what was beforehand without skipping a verse or a word.

MB 11: There is no need to go back - All this is if he is praying alone. However, if he is praying with a minyan and he sees that the chazan is at the "Uchtavtam" of the first paragraph or near it, he should go back to the "Uchtavtam" of the first paragraph, because we can see that he was mistaken and his continuation wasn't correct. The same is true in the other direction: if his situation is such that he would ordinarily be required to go back to the first "Uchtavtam", but he sees that the chazan is at or near the second "Uchtavtam", he should also continue with "Lema'an yirbu", since we assume that he read the second paragraph like the rest of the minyan. We will discuss the laws of one who accidentally changed a blessing from what our sages set down (which the Magen Avraham discusses in the name of the Ramba"m) G-d willing in siman 68 in the Mishna Berura, see there.



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