Tuesday, August 19, 2008

why shema has no time limit at night but does during the day

The mitzvah of reading kri’as shema at night which we learn from the pasuk of “b’shachbecha” can be fulfilled at any time during the night (on a d’oraysa level), but when it comes to the mitzvah of reading shema during the day, which we learn from the pasuk of “uvkumecha”, the mitzvah can only be fulfilled until the third hour of the day. Why is there a difference between the two?

The Sefer haChinuch explains that Chazal understood “b’shachbecha” to mean any time that people go to sleep. There are a great many night owls who keep late hours and who sometimes retire closer to what most of us consider morning than night. However, rarer still is the person who sleeps in all day. Therefore, Chazal understood “uvkumecha” to mean only the morning hours, when most people wake up.

The Kesef Mishna in Hil Krias Shema raises the same question and disagrees with the Chinuch. He writes that min hatorah there is no difference between day and night – krias shema can be recited all day as well as all night. It is only a derabbanan mandate to finish k.s. of the day by the third hour. His proof: even if one reads krias shema after the proper time, the brachos krias shema can stil be recited. If min hatorah there is no kiyum mitzvah, how could one say brachos? (It seems implicit in his argument that brachos k”s are birchos hamitzvah, an interesting (and debatable) chiddush for another time.)

The Magen Avraham attacks the KS”M. If the obligation of shema applies all day and all night, then there is never a moment during which the mitzvah does not apply. Why then is krias shema considered a zman gerama mitzvah from which women are exempt?

The Sha’agas Arye (siman 12) addresses this question in the midst of a discussion of whether women are chayavos in the mitzvah of zechiras yetziyas Mitzrayim or not. The Sha’agas Arye at first contends that women are chayavos, as the mitzvah can be fulfilled during the entire day and then again during the entire night – there is no time that the mitzvah of zechira does not apply, so it is not zman gerama. However, the S.A. then backtracks. From the fact that women are exempt from reciting shema, which is the means by which we fulfill zechiras yetziyas Mitzrayim, it seems that they have no mitzvah of zechira (otherwise we would expect at least a Rabbinic enactment formalizing some recitation). But why are they exempt? The S.A. concludes that the mitzvah of zechira must in the end be zman gerama. Although the obligation to remember yetziyas Mitzrayim is continuous, in fact, the mitzvah really consists of two separate obligations which happen to coincide and come back to back with each other – an obligation of zechira during the day, which can only be fulfilled during the day, and an obligation of zechira at night, which can only be fulfilled at night. Since each independent obligation is limited in scope to a set period of time, although the gavra, the person, remains under a continuous obligation to remember yetziyas mitzrayim, these are considered independent zman gerama obligations.

The same logic applies to the mitzvah of reading shema. True, a person at any given moment may fulfill the mitzvah of reciting shema - either the shema of day or the shema of night - still, these are two seperate obligations and each one is limited in scope to being fulfilled at only one set time period.

16 comments:

  1. Anonymous1:43 AM

    "The Sefer haChinuch explains that Chazal understood “b’shachbecha” to mean any time that people go to sleep. There are a great many night owls who keep late hours and who sometimes retire closer to what most of us consider morning than night. However, rarer still is the person who sleeps in all day. Therefore, Chazal understood “uvkumecha” to mean only the morning hours, when most people wake up."

    Rare is the person who sleeps past zman k"s??? Not in today's society!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. The answer to this question can be gleaned directly from Torah Shebichtav without pilpulim.

    The first paragraph of K"S is describing the lifestyle of an ohev Hashem. Such an individual is engaged in Torah study constantly - when he sits in his house, walks on the way, lies down and rises up.

    The common denominator of all four categories - sitting, walking, lying down and rising - is that they are "leisure" times, either breaks between activities (walking or sitting) or time periods before/after scheduled work hours (morning or night).

    In other words, the ohev Hashem is involved in learning whenever he has spare time, i.e, whenever he is not involved in work, his default activity is Talmud Torah.

    Now there is a big difference between rising up (morning) and lying down(night) in this regard.

    The nighttime is, in most societies, primarily a time of leisure. The vast majority of people work during the day and return to their homes to rest at night.

    By contrast, it is only first thing in the morning, and not all day long, that people have some free time before beginning their workaday routine.

    This is the reason for the difference between "when you lie down" and "when you rise up". We are commanded to read the Shema before and after our daily routines, as a demonstration that, as a reflection of our ahavat Hashem, we utilize our "leisure time" to focus on Talmud Torah.

    I believe this is the simple peshat that emerges from Torah shebichtav and explains the Mishnah and Rambam beautifully. I had planned to post this, including the Kessef Mishneh references, etc. Maybe I will do so in the future!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Rabbi Maroof - darshinan ta'ama d'kra?
    Secondly, I think the simple pshat is exactly the opposite of what you suggest. Shivtecha, lechtecha... these are meant to encompass the totality of a person's day, not just leisure activity.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Ve'hinei kamma alumasi ve'gam nitzavah.
    Kamma,evidently, means getting up, not being up.

    ReplyDelete
  5. AsherM1:59 PM

    The Rambam in hilschos tefila 1:1 is explicit in saying that on the d'oraisa level there is an obligation of tfila once a day, seemingly once every 24 hour period. And again he is explicit in saying that this not a zman grama mitzvah and women are chayavos.

    א מצות עשה להתפלל בכל יום, שנאמר "ועבדתם, את ה' אלוהיכם" (שמות כג,כה): מפי השמועה למדו שעבודה זו--היא תפילה, ונאמר "ולעובדו, בכל לבבכם" (דברים יא,יג); אמרו חכמים, איזו היא עבודה שבלב, זו תפילה. ואין מניין התפילות מן התורה, ואין משנה התפילה הזאת מן התורה. ואין לתפילה זמן קבוע מן התורה; [ב] ולפיכך נשים ועבדים חייבין בתפילה, לפי שהיא מצות עשה שלא הזמן גרמה.

    How would you be mchalek between the mitzvah of tfila and the conclusion of the S"A with regard to zechiras yetzias mitzrayim? - as you state:

    "Since each independent obligation is limited in scope to a set period of time, although the gavra, the person, remains under a continuous obligation to remember yetziyas mitzrayim, these are considered independent zman gerama obligations"

    It always seemed to me that the defining characteristic of a zman grama mitzvah is that there is a specified and limited period of time to fulfill the mitzvah obligation, and if one fails to fulfill the mitzvah in that time period than that opportunity has passed. So too, by tfila. If one fails to daven on Sunday, than that obligation/opportunity has passed and on Monday a new obligation/opportunity arises.

    What do you say?

    ReplyDelete
  6. You could ask your question irrespective of this post. I will answer your question by throwing a question back at you: Why is bentching not labelled zman gerama? - you must bentch within a limited timeframe after finishing a meal after which the mitzvah is gone. You can eat any time you want, but you always stuck bentching after that meal or losing the opportunity. How do you understand that?

    I think you need to seperate time limitations on the chiyuv from time limitations on the kiyum - see here: http://divreichaim.blogspot.com/2007/02/mitzvos-aseh-shehazman-gerama-eidus.html

    ReplyDelete
  7. asher-m7:16 PM

    I could use a bit more elucidation here. The problem with bentching is real and so I have to adopt a different definition for a zman grama mitzva. I understand that I was focusing on the time limitation of the kiyum hamtizva. .

    It seems that you are suggesting that the key is a time limitation on the chiyuv. (That’s what I gathered from the post on hagadas eidus and the ensuing comments.) I’m not sure how that solves the bentching issue. After all, doesn’t the chiyuv to bentch after a meal eventually disappear if it hasn’t been fulfilled? So, why isn’t stll a case of zman grama? Similarly, doesn’t the chiyuv of hagadas eidus eventually expire – i.e, once the case has already been tried or settled? And how does this pertain to tfilla? I would argue that in the case of tfilla that there is a separate chiyuv each day which begins and expires with that day.

    So what am I missing? Maybe the key is to distinguish between “time-triggered” chiyuvim and “event-triggered” chiyuvim. A “time-triggered” chiyuv would be things like tefillin, krias shema, zechiras yetzias mitzrayim, shofar, sukkah, when a new day or time of day trigger the chiyuv (and causes the chiyuv to expire?). On the other hand, chiyuvim such as bentching and hagadas eidus are triggered by the events of eating and witnessing, respectively, and so are not zman grama chiyuvim.

    But that still leaves tfilla as a problem – I would describe it as time-triggered. And I don’t understand what bothered the Kesef Mishna w/ regard to krias shema and the S”A with regard to zechiras yetzias mitzrayim. Again, these seem to be time-triggered chiyuvim.

    Once again, any help would be appreciated.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Let's compare tefilah with lulav. The obligation of lulav requires doing a netila on a specific day of the year to the exclusion of all other days. One cannot say the same of tefilah - there is not a chiyuv to daven on Monday to the exclusion of all other days of the year.

    Your point is that your *kiyum* of tefilah on Monday cannot be accomplished on Tuesday. Ain hachi nami, this is true, but zman gerama depends on the definition of the chiyuv, not the possibility of kiyum.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am not being doresh taamei hamitsvot, I am reading the peshat of the pesuqim!

    Although, as you know, I have a Brisker methodological background, I believe that one of the travesties of much of contemporary "lomdus" is the complete disconnect of Torah Shebal Peh analysis from its source in Torah Shebichtav.

    Written and Oral Torah must be integrated, rather than neatly separated from one another into different and even opposing spheres.

    It saddens me when emphasis on the actual source of a mitsvah in Torah Shebichtav is dismissed in favor of casuistic arguments divorced from the original context in which a mitsvah was presented.

    The Torah is describing someone not working - this individual is either sitting in his house (i.e., not laboring in the field or otherwise engaged in business), is en route to some destination but not currently involved in practical activity, first getting up in the morning, or retiring in the evening.

    The point of the pesuqim is that a person's "default" activity, when all pragmatic pressures are removed, should be Talmud Torah. This is reflected in the mitsvah of KS.

    ReplyDelete
  10. asher-M12:51 PM

    R. Chaim,
    I’m not sure that I understand what you’re saying.
    It seems that you might be saying that the chiyuv to daven is ongoing. It is just one chiyuv and that chiyuv is to daven every day. That is, the chiyuv to daven has many separate components. However, since the chiyuv is ongoing – it’s not zman grama.

    I wouldn’t agree with that understanding of the chiyuv.. Also, how would you distinguish this chiyuv from the chiyuv of tfillin? Wouldn’t you describe it the same way?

    ReplyDelete
  11. >>>Also, how would you distinguish this chiyuv from the chiyuv of tfillin?

    B'pashtus women don't wear tefillin because of a guf naki issue, not because of a zman gerama issue.

    ReplyDelete
  12. asher-m2:33 PM

    R. Chaim,

    a) I think the pashtus is that tfillin is an example of a zman grama mitzva and the source for the ptur in all zman grama mitzvos - see kiddushin 34a. So the question remains.

    b) more importantly, did I understand your take on tfila?

    ReplyDelete
  13. Mike S.5:07 PM

    I do not understand the Sha'agat Aryeh. If there are two separate daily (as opposed to Pesach) requirements for z'chirat yetziat Mitzrayim, one in the day and one at night, shouldn't they be counted separately among the Taryag mitzvot? I am unaware of anyone who does so.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Mike S.5:08 PM

    Asher-m:

    Tefillin is z'man grama because Shabbos and Yom Tov are not z'manei t'fillin.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Mike S - I like your question, but on the other hand, why would zcy"m be any different than krias shema, which the Chinuch counts as 1 mitzvah, not 2?

    (For the record, Ramban counts it as 2. I'm not so clear on the rules the different rishonim use to figure out when something counts as 1 mitzvah and when it counts as 2 - would be an interesting topic to explore.)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Mike S.6:38 AM

    yes, that's why i said i don't know of any Rishon that counts it as two. As for kriat shema, even if it one mitzvah, there must be at least two aspects, since the passuk mentions bshochbecha ov'kumecha. I suppose you could cite the D'rasha of ben Zoma from Berachot (well known from the haggadah) but the halacha is like the chachamim, isn't it.

    ReplyDelete