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Part I: Orach Chayim


The afternoon SHEMONEH ESREH may be recited beginning half an hour after noon, or preferably half an hour after midafternoon, where an "hour" is 1/12 of the time between sunrise and sunset (233:1). It may be recited until sunset, or according to some, 1-1/4 hours before sunset (233:1). Some first recite passages about the daily Temple service; this is followed by Psalm 145 and (if ten men are present) KADDISH (234:1). If time is short, the congregation recite the first three blessings, including KEDUSHAH, together with the leader (232:1).

When it is close to the time for the afternoon SHEMONEH ESREH, a person who has not yet recited it should not begin a large meal, a haircut, a bath, or any work or business; see 232:2-3. Similarly, when it is close to the time for the evening SHEMA, a person who has not recited it should not start to eat; see 235:2. If possible, the hands should be washed before reciting these prayers, even if they are clean; see 233:2.

The evening SHEMONEH ESREH may be recited beginning after nightfall, or according to some, 1-1/4 hours before sunset (233:1). The evening SHEMA should be recited just after dark (235:3). If the congregation recites it earlier because they are reciting the evening SHEMONEH ESREH early, it should be repeated, without the blessings, after dark (235:1). It should be recited before midnight, or if possible before dawn (235:3); if necessary, it may be recited until sunrise, but without reciting the blessing "Lay us down..." (235:4), and if this is done, the next morning's SHEMA must not be recited until after sunrise (58:5). According to some, if SHEMA was missed during the day, it can be made up by reciting it twice in the evening, and vice versa (58:7). Two blessings are recited before the evening SHEMA and two after it; see 236:1. Some also recite the 18 verses beginning "May our eyes see...", ending with the blessing "...the King in His Glory..." (see 236:4); but there should be no unnecessary interruptions between the first blessing after SHEMA ("...Who redeemed Israel") and SHEMONEH ESREH (see 236:2-3). The leader does not repeat the evening SHEMONEH ESREH, and TACHANUN is not recited (237:1).

It is even more important to study Torah at night than during the day (238:1). A person who was unable to complete his quota of Torah study during the day should complete it immediately that night (238:2).

After going to bed, a person should recite the first paragraph of SHEMA, the blessing "...Who casts webs of sleep on my eyes...", and other verses; he should do nothing else afterward (see 239:1). He should cover himself when he undresses, so he does not lie naked (239:2; see also 241:1). He should have relations with his wife at regular intervals (see 240:1), in particular on the night after her monthly immersion, the night before he goes on a trip, or whenever she indicates that she wants it (240:1). His intentions should not be for his own pleasure, but to fulfill his obligation to his wife and the Commandment to have children (240:1,8). On proper attitudes and behaviors during relations see 240:2-5,8-10. A couple should not have relations if anyone else in the room (except an infant; see also 240:16) is awake (240:6;13), or if holy books are present unless they are properly covered (see 240:6). They should not have relations at the beginning or end of the night (240:7) or if it is not dark (240:11). A man should not have relations in times of famine or other troubles unless he is childless; see 240:12. On the dangers of excessive sexual indulgence see 240:14; on situations in which relations are inadvisable see 240:15.

Shulchan Aruch, Copyright (c) 2000 Project Genesis, Inc.

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