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70:1. Women and non-Jewish servants (1) are free from the obligation (2) to read Shema because it is a (3) time-bound positive commandment. (4) It is proper to teach them to accept upon themselves the yoke of the Kingdom of (5) Heaven. {Rama: They should read at least the first verse.}

MB 1: Free from the obligation – There is even no Rabbinic enactment.

MB 2: Reading the Shema – And they are also free from the blessings associated with reading the Shema because they also have a set time, as we said before in 58:6. But women and servants are obligated to recite the blessing “Emes V’Yatziv [True and standing]” that was established to recall the Exodus from Egypt, and similarly the blessings after Shema in the evening service, because the commandment to remember the Exodus from Egypt is observed [both] day and night. Given that, they are also certainly required to begin praying immediately after the blessing of redemption [i.e., not pause between the last blessing of Shema, which focuses on “geulah”, redemption, and “tefilah”, the Amida prayer which follows the last blessing] for they are obligated in [the Amida] prayer as we will see later in 106:2; so writes the Magen Avraham.

Look in the Pri Megadim, who wrote that according to the opinion that mentioning the Exodus from Egypt at night is a command of rabbinic origin, and the source verse [As mentioned in the Hagada, we use the additional word “all”, as in “kol yemey khayekha”, _all_ the days of your life, to include nights] is merely a memory device [rather than an actual Torah obligation], then [remembering the Exodus during the daytime] is a time-bound positive commandment, and [women and servants] would be free from Torah obligation [to read the last blessing at night], but they would be required by rabbinic law. This is what it says in the book Yeshuas Yaakov; look there. Even if you say that [even at night, mentioning the Exodus] is a Torah obligation, look in Shaagas Aryeh Siman 12 [where it says] that women are still not obligated, because the mentioning [of the Exodus] during the day and at night are two independent commandments – if one forgot to mention the Exodus during the day he would not have to make it up at night, [and vice-versa]; look there.

Regarding Pesukei D’zimrah, the Verses of Praise, see above in Siman 52 in the novellae of R. Akiva Eiger, where it is clear from his words that the main point [of these Verses] is as preparation for the Amida prayer; therefore women are clearly obligated [to read them].

Concerning the morning blessings, it seems that this depends on whether you claim that these blessings have a set time; see above at the end of paragraph 52 in Mishna Brura and Beur Halacha, and it requires some study. From the plain meaning of the Tur and Shulchan Arukh, 41:4, and in the explanation of the Levush (see there), it is implied that [women and servants] recite the morning blessings just like men.

All that we have discussed here is with respect to obligation, but certainly women can accept upon themselves further obligations, even to read the blessings of the Shema, as the Rama writes in 17:2.

MB 3: Time-bound – For the Torah tied [the reading of Shema] to the time of lying down and the time of rising.

MB 4: It is proper – This implies that from the letter of the law they are free from obligation. The Ba”ch writes that they are obligated _by_law_ to accept the Yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven and recite the first verse [of Shema], look there, but many of the later authorities disagree with this.

MB 5: Heaven – The book “Nakhalat Tzvi” explains that the intention of the author [here] is that they read the first paragraph, and the [Rama] adds to this that at least they should read the first sentence. The Levush, on the other hand, holds that even the author [R. Karo] intended that they should read only one verse, and this is what [the Rama] comes to explain.

70:2. Children are exempt [from reading Shema]. According to (6) Rabbenu Tam, (7) they are exempt before they reach the age of education [in Torah and the commandments], [but] according to Rashi, even educable children are still exempt, because a child is separated from his father at the time of reading Shema at night, and [the child] sleeps (8) in the morning. (9) It is fitting to act in accordance with the view of Rabbenu Tam [and teach children who are old enough for education to read Shema].

MB 6: Rabbenu Tam – But if the child did reach the age of education in Torah and its commandments, which is 6 or 7 years old, then the father is required to teach him [to read Shema] just like any other commandment. [The father should] also [teach his child] to read Shema in the proper time, with the blessings before and after.

MB 7: When the child has not reached – Nevertheless, it is a commandment for the father to teach his son the first verse [of Shema] as soon as the child is old enough to speak. This need not be done at the appropriate time for reading Shema.

MB 8: In the morning – He means to say that this is the reason that [the sages] did not obligate the father to educate the child [in this area]. Look in the Bayit Chadash who wrote that if a child is 12 years old, everyone agrees that the father must educate him in [the reading of Shema with its blessings in the proper times].

MB 9: It is fitting to act – He means to say that even though the opinion of Rashi is logical, and so the Gaon R. Eliahu [of Vilna] wrote, even so it is proper to act in accordance with the view of Rabbenu Tam; and the Rambam seems to say the same. Look in the Lechem Mishna and Pri Megadim on the Jerusalem Talmud. But concerning the Amida prayer, everyone agrees that a father is obligated to teach his child once he has reached the age of Torah education, as we will see later in 106:2.

70:3 One who marries (10) a virgin is exempt (11) from reading Shema (12) for three days [from the wedding] (13) if he has not yet consummated the marriage, because he is burdened with another commandment. This applied in the earlier generations; today, when even other people do not concentrate properly [when reading Shema], even one who has just married a virgin should also (14) read the Shema. {Rama: See later on in Siman 99 regarding whether one who is drunk (15) may read Shema.}

MB 10: A virgin – Because he is preoccupied with a mitzva, for he is thinking about the matter of virginity. This is not so with a widow [or other non-virgin], for he is not preoccupied.

MB 11: From reading Shema – and also its blessings, and also from [the Amida] prayer; see later on in section 106.

MB 12: Three days – And four nights. For example, if he married Wednesday afternoon, he is exempt from reading Shema until Saturday night, inclusive. Sometimes it could come out to four days: for example, if he married Wednesday morning before he had read Shema, he is exempt for four days.

MB 13: If he did not – But if he did, then because he is no longer preoccupied, he is again obligated [to read Shema]. Also from this point [three days after the wedding] on he is obligated to read Shema even if he has not yet consummated the marriage, because once three days have passed and he has not consummated the marriage, he has given up and is no longer preoccupied.

MB 14: He reads – He means to say that the groom is obligated to read [Shema] with its blessings, in accordance with the regular law. And he should also pray, for since he is obligated in Shema he is also obligated in prayer. If he does not read, it appears as if he is being haughty, as if he is claiming that he can concentrate at any [other] time. Regarding Tefillin see above in the MB on 38:7.

MB 15: Can read Shema – There it explains that if he is slightly drunk he can read Shema and pray, for in our time even without drunkenness we don’t have very good concentration when we pray. But if he is unable to speak appropriately [if he were brought] before a king, then he should avoid reading [Shema] or praying until he can sober up.

Aaron Peromsik [email protected]

Siman 70. Who is exempt from reading the Shema (cont.)

70:4. One who is taking care of (16) communal needs (17) when the time of the reading of Shema arrives (18) should not interrupt. Rather, (19) he should complete their business and then read Shema (20) if there is still time.

MB 16: Communal needs – This is the halacha when he is the only one available to do it. Therefore he does not stop, for one who is busy with one commandment is not obligated to do another commandment. This would apply even if he is only saving the community money.

MB 17: When the time.. – One can derive from this that if he started taking care of the communal needs when this was forbidden, i.e. after the time for reading Shema arrived, then he must interrupt what he is doing. And look in the Pri Megadim who is inclined to say that in any case he does not have to interrupt.

MB 18: He should not interrupt – If one is able to interrupt, read the Shema, and then return and complete the communal service without difficulty, then he should interrupt. The Pri Megadim wrote that even though one who is busy with communal service is not obligated to read Shema, in any case if he interrupted and read Shema he had properly filled the obligation. This is because one is not completely exempted from reading Shema, only that he is allowed to continue his involvement with another commandment.

MB 19: He should complete their business – However, he should do what he can, and read at least the first verse together with the verse ‘Boruch shem kevod malchuso leolam vaed’ (Blessed be the honor of his kingdom, forever and ever) at the proper time, because it takes just a couple of seconds and can be done even when he is doing communal business.

MB 20: If there is still time – If the time elapses, there is nothing he can do, because he was busy with another commandment. However, he is required to mention the exodus from Egypt even after the time for the reading of Shema has passed, because it is a commandment in its own right, and its time is all day. Therefore, he should say a portion of the Torah that mentions the Exodus if it is too late to say the blessing of ‘Emes veyatziv’ [true and standing] as is explained in Siman 58. Look there in the Mishna Berurah, and look later in Siman 93:4 concerning prayer and in the Mishna Berurah there as well.

You should also know that if the communal business took until afternoon, in which case he is free even from the obligation of [morning] prayer, it remains forbidden according to all authorities to eat before he fulfills the commandment to wear tefillin, which can be performed all day. Also, according to what the Pri Megadim wrote in Siman 89, he is forbidden at that time to eat before he says the Mincha [afternoon] prayer. Therefore he should wait until a half hour after noon [the earliest time for the afternoon service], he should say the Mincha prayer, and then eat. Look in the Sefer Machane Yisrael Chap. 2, paragraph 3.

70:5. If one (21) was eating, in the bath house, taking a haircut, treating leather, or in court, according to the Ramabam (22) he should finish, and read Shema thereafter. If he was afraid that the time for reading Shema would pass, and so interrupted what he was doing and read Shema, he is praised. (23) According to the Raavad, though, (24) he should interrupt what he was doing and read Shema, even though there is (25) [plenty] of time left to read. {Look at (26) Siman 235.}

MB 21: Eating – To find out what is considered starting a meal, look later in Siman 232:2.

MB 22: He finishes and then.. – That is if he estimates that he will have enough time left over to read. That which he wrote ‘If he was afraid..’ means that he is afraid that his estimate isn’t accurate.

MB 23: According to the Raavad he must interrupt.. – The consensus among almost all the later authorities is that in the case of a biblical commandment we make a major distinction based upon whether he started [doing something else] with or without permission [i.e. before or after the time to do the commandment arrived]. Therefore according to this, if he was working or doing any of the other things mentioned here besides for eating, if he started before daybreak [the beginning of morning, over an hour before dawn] he need not interrupt what he’s doing if there will be enough time after he’s done to read Shema and to pray, because we rule later in Siman 89:7 that our Sages did not decree that one refrain from activity before the time for morning prayers. Therefore, he started his activity with permission. However, if he started after daybreak, which was without permission, he must interrupt to read Shema, but not for the blessings on Shema or for the Amidah. Afterwards, when he completes his work, he will be required to read Shema again with its blessings and to say the Amidah. This is only if there will be time left after he completes his work, but if he sees that the time is passing, he must interrupt immediately. In any instance where he need not interrupt what he is doing, he is not forced to stop even if he will miss praying with a congregation as a result. Concerning eating, it is apparent from the Shulchan Aruch in Siman 89:5 that he rules that one must stop eating immediately after daybreak even if he started with permission, and there is no way around it so long as has not prayed.

MB 24: And he reads – This wording implies that after he reads Shema, he may complete all these activities should he have started them even if he has not yet prayed, as we wrote in the previous MB; and this terminology is not literal concerning an instance where he was busy eating, because in a case of eating we already explained that he also has to pray first. This wording was used because he was mentioning the other activities. Or perhaps he mentioned it because of the evening reading of Shema, because there too all these laws are pertinent, and in the evening certainly if he started any of these five activities within a half hour before nightfall he must interrupt them immediately. Then when night falls he should read Shema without its blessings and afterwards finish eating or any other activity, and then read Shema with its blessings and pray the Amidah, as we see later in Siman 235:2. Look in the Pri Megadim there.

MB 25: Time to read – It is a decree lest the activity drag out and the time of the reading of Shema elapse. It is not comparable to the Mincha prayer where we rule in Siman 232 that if he started any of these activities before praying, he need not interrupt them, because since the reading of Shema is required by the Torah the Sages were more stringent about it.

MB 26: Siman 235 – He means to say that over there the difference between starting with permission and starting without permission is explained. See there for more information.

–Shmuel-Weidberg–[email protected]–Toronto-Canada–