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Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Berakoth
GEMARA. Beth Hillel cause no difficulty; they explain their own reason and the reason [why they reject the opinion] of Beth Shammai. But why do not Beth Shammai accept the view of Beth Hillel? — Beth Shammai can reply: If this is so,1 let the text say, 'In the morning and in the evening'. Why does it say, 'When thou liest down and when thou risest up'? To show that in the time of lying down there must be actual lying down, and in the time of rising up there must be actual rising up. And how do Beth Shammai explain the words 'And when thou walkest by the way'? — They need it for the following, as has been taught: 'When thou sittest in thy house':2 this excludes a bridegroom. 'And when thou walkest by the way': this excludes one who is occupied with the performance of a religious duty.3 Hence they laid down that one who marries a virgin is free [from the obligation to say the Shema' in the evening] while one who marries a widow is bound.4 How is the lesson5 derived? — R. Papa said: [The circumstances must be] like a 'way'. As a 'way' [journey] is optional, so whatever is optional [does not exempt from the obligation]. But does not the text treat [also] of one who is going to perform a religious duty, and even so the All Merciful said that he should recite? — If that were so, the All Merciful should have written [simply], 'While sitting and while walking'. What is the implication of when thou sittest and when thou walkest? — In the case of thy sitting and thy walking thou art under the obligation, but in the case of performing a religious duty thou art exempt. If that is so, one who marries a widow should also be exempt? — The one6 is agitated, the other not. If a state of agitation is the ground, it would apply also the the case of his ship sinking at sea! And should you say, Quite so, why did R. Abba b. Zabda say in the name of Rab: A mourner is under obligation to perform all the precepts laid down in the Torah except that of the tefillin, because the term 'headtire' is applied to them, as it says, Bind thy headtire upon thee?7 — In that case the agitation is over a religious duty, here it is over an optional matter.
Our Rabbis taught: Beth Hillel say that one may recite the Shema' standing, one may recite it sitting, one may recite it reclining, one may recite it walking on the road, one may recite it at one's work. Once R. Ishmael and R. Eleazar b. Azariah were dining at the same place, and R. Ishmael was reclining while R. Eleazar was standing upright. When the time came for reciting the Shema', R. Eleazar reclined and R. Ishmael stood upright. Said R. Eleazar b. Azariah to R. Ishmael: Brother Ishmael, I will tell you a parable. To what is this [our conduct] like? It is like that of a man to whom people say, You have a fine beard, and he replies, Let this go to meet the destroyers.12 So now, with you: as long as I was upright you were reclining, and now that I recline you stand upright!13 He replied: I have acted according to the rule of Beth Hillel and you have acted according to the rule of Beth Shammai. And what Is more, [I had to act thus], lest the disciples should see and fix the halachah so for future generations. What did he mean by 'what is more'? He meant: Should you argue that Beth Hillel also allow reclining, [I reply that] this is the case only where one was reclining from the first. Here, however, since at first you were upright and now you recline, they may say, This shows that they [both] are of the opinion of Beth Shammai, and perhaps the disciples will see and fix the halachah so for future generations.
R. Ezekiel learnt: If one follows the rule of Beth Shammai he does right, if one follows the rule of Beth Hillel he does right. R. Joseph said: If he follows the rule of Beth Shammai, his action is worthless, as we have learnt: If a man has his head and the greater part of his body in the sukkah14 while the table is in the house, Beth Shammai declare his action void, while Beth Hillel declare it valid. Said Beth Hillel to Beth Shammai: Once the Elders of Beth Shammai and the Elders of Beth Hillel went to visit R. Johanan b. Ha-horanith, and they found him with his head and the greater part of his body in the sukkah while the table was in the house, and they made no objection. They replied: Do you bring a proof from this?15 [The fact is that] they also said to him: If such has been your regular custom, you have never performed the precept of the sukkah in your lifetime.16 R. Nahman b. Isaac said: One who follows the rule of Beth Shammai makes his life forfeit, as we have learnt: R. TARFON SAID: I WAS ONCE WALKING BY THE WAY AND I RECLINED TO RECITE THE SHEMA' IN THE MANNER PRESCRIBED BY BETH SHAMMAI, AND I INCURRED DANGER FROM ROBBERS. THEY SAID TO HIM: YOU DESERVED TO COME TO HARM, BECAUSE YOU ACTED AGAINST THE OPINION OF BETH HILLEL.
MISHNAH. IN THE MORNING TWO BLESSINGS ARE TO BE SAID BEFORE IT17 AND ONE AFTER IT. IN THE EVENING TWO ARE SAID BEFORE IT AND TWO AFTER IT, ONE LONG AND ONE SHORT.18 WHERE THEY [THE SAGES] LAID DOWN THAT A LONG ONE SHOULD BE SAID, IT IS NOT PERMITTED TO SAY A SHORT ONE. WHERE THEY ORDAINED A SHORT ONE A LONG ONE IS NOT PERMITTED. [A PRAYER] WHICH THEY ORDERED TO BE CONCLUDED [WITH A BENEDICTION]19 MUST NOT BE LEFT WITHOUT SUCH A CONCLUSION; ONE WHICH THEY ORDERED TO BE LEFT WITHOUT SUCH A CONCLUSION MUST NOT BE SO CONCLUDED.
GEMARA. What benedictions does one say [in the morning]? R. Jacob said in the name of R. Oshaia:
'[Blessed art Thou] who formest light and createst darkness'.1 Let him say rather: 'Who formest light and createst brightness'? — We keep the language of the Scripture.2 If that is so, [what of the next words in the text], Who makest peace and createst evil: do we repeat them as they are written? It is written 'evil' and we say 'all things' as a euphemism. Then here too let us say 'brightness' as a euphemism! — In fact, replied Raba, it is in order to mention the distinctive feature of the day in the night-time and the distinctive feature of the night in the day-time. It is correct that we mention the distinctive feature of the night in the day-time, as we say, 'Who formest light and createst darkness'.3 But where do you find the distinctive feature of the day mentioned in the night-time? — Abaye replied: [In the words,] 'Thou rollest away the light from before the darkness and the darkness from before the light'.4
Which is the other [benediction]?5 — Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel: 'With abounding love'.6 So also did R. Eleazar instruct his son R. Pedath [to say]: 'With abounding love'. It has been taught to the same effect: We do not say, 'With everlasting love', but 'With abounding love'. The Rabbis, however, say that 'With everlasting love'7 is said; and so it is also said, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love; therefore with affection I have drawn thee.8
Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel: If one rose early to study [the Torah] before he had recited the Shema', he must say a benediction [over the study]. But if he had already recited the Shema', he need not say a benediction, because he has already become quit by saying 'With abounding love'.9
R. Huna said: For the reading of Scripture it is necessary to say a benediction,10 but for the study of the Midrash11 no benediction is required. R. Eleazar, however, says that for both Scripture and Midrash a benediction is required, but not for the Mishnah. R. Johanan says that for the Mishnah also a benediction is required, [but not for the Talmud]. Raba said: For the Talmud also it is necessary to say a blessing. R. Hiyya b. Ashi said:12 Many times did I stand before Rab to repeat our section in the Sifra of the School of Rab,13 and he used first to wash his hands and say a blessing, and then go over our section with us.14
What benediction is said [before the study of the Torah]? — Rab Judah said in the name of Samuel: [Blessed art Thou …] who hast sanctified us by Thy commandments, and commanded us to study the Torah.15 R. Johanan used to conclude as follows:16 'Make pleasant, therefore, we beseech Thee, O Lord our God, the words of Thy Torah in our mouth and in the mouth of Thy people the house of Israel, so that we with our offspring and the offspring of Thy people the house of Israel may all know Thy name and study Thy Torah. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who teachest Torah to Thy people Israel'.17 R. Hamnuna said: '[Blessed art Thou …] who hast chosen us from all the nations and given us Thy Torah. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who givest the Torah'.18 R. Hamnuna said: This is the finest of the benedictions. Therefore let us say all of them.19
We have learnt elsewhere:20 The deputy high priest21 said to them [the priests], Say one benediction, and they said the benediction and recited the Ten Commandments, the Shema', the section 'And it shall come to pass if ye hearken diligently', and 'And the Lord said',22 and recited with the people three benedictions, viz., 'True and firm',23 the benediction of the 'Abodah,24 and the priestly benediction.25 On Sabbath they said an additional benediction for the outgoing watch.26 Which is the 'one benediction' referred to above? The following will show. R. Abba and R. Jose came to a certain place the people of which asked them what was the 'one benediction' [referred to], and they could not tell them. They went and asked R. Mattena, and he also did not know. They then went and asked Rab Judah, who said to them: Thus did Samuel say: It means, 'With abounding love'. R. Zerika in the name of R. Ammi, who had it from R. Simeon b. Lakish said: It is, 'Who formest light'. When R. Isaac b. Joseph came [from Palestine] he said: This statement of R. Zerika was not made explicitly [by R. Simeon b. Lakish], but was inferred by him [from another statement]. For R. Zerika said in the name of R. Ammi, who had it from R. Simeon b. Lakish: This27 shows that the recital of one blessing is not indispensable for that of the other. Now if you say that they used to recite 'Who formest the light', it is correct to infer that the recital of one blessing is not indispensable for that of the other, since they did not say, 'With abounding love'.
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