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Eighteen Treatises from the Mishna, by D. A. Sola and M. J. Raphall, [1843], at


§ 1. A man who is reading in the Torah [the parasha ‏שמע‎], when the time comes for saying [prayers], if he devotes his heart [attention] to the prayer, he has acquitted himself [of the obligation to say the ‏שמע‎]; but if not, he has not [so] acquitted himself. At the close of the different sections, man salutes out of respect and responds [to a salutation]: but in the middle of a section, he salutes from fear [only] and responds. Such is the dictum of R. Meir. R. Jehudah saith, "In the middle [of a section] he salutes from fear, and responds out of respect. At the close [of a section] he salutes out of respect, and returns the salutation of any man." 1

2. The [close of the] sections are, between the first benediction and the second: between the second and ‏שמע ישראל‎ [Hear O Israel]: between ‏שמע‎ and ‏והיה אם שמע‎ [and it shall come to pass, &c]: 2 between ‏יהוה אם שמע‎ and ‏ויאמר‎ 3 [and the Lord spake unto Moses]: between ‏ויאמר‎ and ‏אמת ויציב‎, [it is true and confirmed]. R. Jehudah saith, "Between ‏ויאמר‎ and ‏אמת ויציב‎, man is not to break off." R. Joshua ben Korha saith, "Why does the ‏שמע‎ precede [the section] ‏והיה אם שמע‎? In order that man may yield homage to the kingdom of heaven, before he takes upon himself the yoke of the commandments. Why does [the section] ‏יהוה אם שמע‎ precede ‏ויאמר‎? because [the precepts of] ‏והיה אם שמע‎, may be practised by day and by night, 4 whereas the precepts of ‏ויאמר‎ can only be practised by day." 5

§ 3. He who says the ‏שמע‎, so as not to be audible to his own ears, has acquitted himself [of the duty to say it]. R. José saith,

p. 4

[paragraph continues] "He has not [so] acquitted himself; if he has said it without due attention to the letters [spelling and pronunciation]." R. José saith he has acquitted himself. R. Jehudah saith he has not. If he has said it in an irregular order, he has not acquitted himself. If he has made a mistake, he recommences from where he made the mistake.

§ 4. Labourers may say the ‏שמע‎ on the top of a tree or of a wall; which they are not at liberty to do with the ‏תפלה‎ [the 18 benedictions called ‏עמירה‎].

§ 5. A bridegroom is exempt [from saying the ‏שמע‎] on the first night [of his nuptials] and until the expiration of the Sabbath, if he has not consummated his marriage. It happened that Rabbon Gamaliel said [the ‏שמע‎] on the first night of his nuptials. His disciples said to him, "Hast thou not taught us, Rabbi, that a bridegroom is exempt [from saying the ‏שמע‎] on the first night of his nuptials?" He answered them, "I will not listen to you, to withhold my homage from the kingdom of heaven even for the space of a single instant."

§ 6. He [R. Gamaliel] bathed on the first night of his wife's death. His disciples said to him, "Hast thou not taught us, Rabbi, that a mourner is prohibited to bathe on the first night?" He answered them, "I am not like all other men; I am infirm."

§ 7. When his slave Tabbi died, he, [R. Gamaliel], received visits of condolence. His disciples said to him, "Hast thou not taught us, Rabbi, that visits of condolence are not to be received for slaves?" He answered them, "My slave Tabbi was not like all other slaves; he was ‏כשר‎ [pious]."

§ 8. A bridegroom who wishes to recite the ‏שמע‎, on the first [bridal] night, is at liberty so to do. Rabbon Simeon ben Gamaliel saith, "Not every one who wishes to assume [the] fame [of superior piety] may do so."


3:1 As, in those days, the salutation, "Peace be with ye," conveyed the assurance of friendly intentions, and of personal safety; to omit saluting, or to neglect responding to a salutation, might be attended with dangerous consequences.

3:2 Deut. xi. 13.

3:3 Numbers xvi. 37.

3:4 It directs, "Ye shall teach them to your children." (Deut. xi. 18.)

3:5 It directs, "That ye may look upon it" [the fringe]. (Num. xvi. 39.)

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