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Berachos 9


OPINIONS: Three Tana'im argue concerning the latest time for saying the Shema at night. Rebbi Eliezer says that one may say the Shema only until the fourth hour of the night. The Chachamim say that one may say the Shema only until midnight (Chatzos). Raban Gamliel says that one may say the Shema until dawn. What is the Halachah?

(a) The ROSH and the TUR (Orach Chayim 235) rule that one may say the Shema until dawn, l'Chatchilah, like Raban Gamliel (as our Sugya concludes).

(b) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Krias Shema 1:9) rules that one should, l'Chatchilah, say the Shema before midnight. If one delayed saying the Shema past midnight, one may fulfill his obligation until dawn. The Rambam seems to be ruling like the Chachamim l'Chatchilah, and like Raban Gamliel b'Di'eved. Our Sugya explicitly says that the Halachah is like Raban Gamliel. Why, then, does the Rambam rule like the Chachamim?

(1) The BEIS YOSEF (Orach Chayim 235) explains that the Rambam rules like the Chachamim because our Gemara points out that when an individual is in dispute with several people, the Halachah is like the majority (i.e., the Chachamim). We therefore follow the opinion of the Chachamim because they were the majority.
(2) The BACH says that the Rambam understood the Gemara like Talmidei Rabbeinu Yonah: According to the Chachamim, in order to prevent someone from delaying Keri'as Shema past midnight a decree was enacted that even b'Di'eved, one who recites the Shema after midnight *does not* fulfill his obligation. Raban Gamliel *agrees* that l'Chatchilah one must recite the Shema before midnight, but he argues and maintains that b'Di'eved, one may recite the Shema after midnight. The Rambam rules like Raban Gamliel. (It is not clear how Talmidei Rabbeinu Yonah's understanding of the Chachamim can be reconciled with our Sugya. The Bach suggests a forced answer.)
(3) The SHENOS ELIYAHU, cited by the BI'UR HALACHAH (235) explains that the Chachamim and Raban Gamliel agree with each other. Raban Gamliel is explaining the opinion of the Chachamim. He is asserting that when the Chachamim said one may say the Shema until midnight, that was only l'Chatchilah. B'Di'eved, one may say the Shema until dawn. Both the Chachamim and Raban Gamliel meant to argue with Rebbi Eliezer.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (Orach Chayim 235:3) rules that l'Chatchilah one should say the Shema before midnight, and b'Di'eved one may say the Shema until dawn. However, even according to those who rule that one may say the Shema l'Chatchilah until dawn (see (a) above), that is only if one does not eat or sleep before he says the Shema. If one wants to eat or sleep, he must say the Shema before midnight (as the Beraisa tells us on 4b).

Regarding saying the Shema after dawn and before sunrise, the Halachach is in accordance with the ruling of the Talmidei Rabbeinu Yonah. If one delayed saying the Shema until after dawn purposely, or due to negligence, one may not fulfill his obligation by saying the Shema before sunrise. If the delay was due to circumstances beyond one's control, he may recite the Shema before sunrise and fulfill his obligation. However, he may not say the blessing of "Hashkivenu" after dawn (see Tosfos DH u'Vilvad).


QUESTION: The Gemara says that the first two chapters of Tehilim are really just one chapter. Why were they later combined into one?

ANSWER: The MAHARSHA explains that, as the Gemara explains, the eighteen blessings of the Shemoneh Esrei corresponded to the first eighteen chapters of Tehilim. When an additional blessing was added later to the Shemoneh Esrei (the blessing against slanderers; see Gemara later, 28b), the first chapter of Tehilim was divided into two, so that the nineteen blessings of the Shemoneh Esrei would still correspond to the first nineteen chapters of Tehilim.

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