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THE TIME FOR THE EVENING SHEMA'


T-5: THE SPANISH CODIFIERS

At this point in our presentation we shall move backward a bit in time, to the eleventh century, and try to trace the development of our problems among the talmudic authorities of Spain and Provence (the southern part of France, which served as a cultural buffer in the Middle Ages between the Islamic and Christian worlds). We shall begin our study with a passage from the talmudic Code of Rabbi Isaac Alfasi, who lived and taught in Spain (1013-1103).

T-5.1: Rabbi Isaac Alfasi, Code (beginning of Berakhot)

...We learn that both the Mishnah and the baraita accept that the time for reciting the Shema' according to the Sages is from the hour when the priests enter to eat their terumah; i,e, the time when the stars appear. This is the halakhah according to the accepted principle that the law follows the majority opinion. As regards the Talmud's finding a contradiction between two statements of Rabbi Eliezer--since a baraita teaches "From what time may one begin to recite the Shema' in the evening? From the time that the Sabbath day becomes hallowed on the Sabbath eve; these are the words of Rabbi Eliezer"; and we learn in our Mishnah: "From the time that the priests enter in order to eat their terumah until the end of the first watch; these are the words of Rabbi Eliezer" --This is not to say that the Mishnah's statement "from the hour when the priests enter to eat of their terumah" is only the individual opinion of Rabbi Eliezer. Rather, both Rabbi Eliezer and the Sages accept this view, since the Sages disagree with Rabbi Eliezer only with regard to the end time, Rabbi Eliezer saying "until the end of the first watch," while the Sages say "until midnight." But "from the hour when the priests enter to eat their terumah" is not disputed, because if the Sages do not accept "from the hour when the priests enter in order to eat their terumah" and it is only the view of Rabbi Eliezer, then the Sages ought to have disagreed with him about the beginning time as they disagreed about the end time. Since they disagree only on the end time, we may deduce that both Rabbi Eliezer and the Sages are of the opinion that the beginning time is from the hour when the priests enter to eat their terumah. Since Rabbi Eliezer agrees with the Sages that it is from the hour when the priests enter to eat their terumah, and we find in a baraita that he says "from the hour when the Sabbath becomes hallowed on the Sabbath eve," the Talmud points out the contradiction between his two statements and resolves it by saying that we have two different Tannaitic traditions according to Rabbi Eliezer. According to the second solution, in which we say "Or if you wish you might say: The end clause is Rabbi Eliezer but the first is not Rabbi Eliezer," the matter is clear that "from the hour when the priests enter to eat their terumah" is according to the Sages and not Rabbi Eliezer. Therefore according to both the first and second solutions, the statement of the Mishnah "from the hour when the priests enter to eat their terumah" is the view of the Sages, and hence we follow that view...

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T-5.2.1: Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Laws for the Recital of the Shema' 1:9

What is the time for reciting the Shema' at night?
--The proper time is from the appearance of the stars, until midnight.


T-5.2.2: Maimonides, Mishneh Torah, Laws of Prayer (Tefillah) 3:7

...One should recite the Sabbath night service on Friday before sunset.

Similarly, one may recite the evening service for the outgoing of the Sabbath on the Sabbath; since the Evening Service is not mandatory we are not so strict about its time, as long as the person recites the Shema' at its proper time, after the appearance of the stars.


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T-6.: THE SAGES OF PROVENCE


Begin by reading some historical background about the special character of the medieval Provençal (Southern French) Jewish community.


T-6.1: Rabbi Abraham ben David, Temim De'im (#118)

There is a widespread disagreement among the Tanna'im in Berakhot Chapter I, and we follow the view of Rabbi Joshua who said: From the appearance of the stars.

This is so because the anonymous statement of the Mishnah, and the Sages cited in the baraita, agree with him, and the whole passage in the Talmud leans towards this view.

Hence, if anyone recited it at twilight they have not fulfilled their obligation, since it is analogous to the case of someone who is uncertain whether or not one has recited it, in which case the accepted law is that they have to go back and recite it again.

As to the fact that now people do not recite it earlier--that is because the people come home weary from their labour and recite the afternoon service. Afterwards they are unable to wait. They recite the two blessings preceding the Shema', the Shema' itself, the two blessings following; and then they recite the Tefillah in order not to miss out on the entire prayer.
The scholars among them fulfil their obligation with them by reciting the blessings and the Tefillah, and then they repeat the Shema' at its proper time.
The fact that they recited it with the congregation in the synagogue was in order to stand for prayer out of words of Torah, and so that they should be occupied with the same thing that the congregation was doing.
The congregation also fulfils their obligation in reciting the first paragraph at bed-time...


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