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Brachos 1:3-4

Brachos 1:3

Beis Shammai says that the evening Shema should be recited reclining and the morning Shema should be recited standing, based on Deuteronomy 6:7, “when you lie down and when you rise up.” Beis Hillel feels that these words only refer to the time of day, not to one’s physical position, and that one may recite Shema in any position he likes. Rabbi Tarfon related an incident in which he was traveling and he reclined in order to recite Shema in accordance with the opinion of Beis Shammai and his life was threatened by bandits. His colleagues told him that he brought this upon himself for spurning the accepted position of Beis Hillel. (Yes, according to Beis Hillel one may recite the Shema reclining. The problem was that Rabbi Tarfon went out of his way to follow the rejected position of Beis Shammai.)

Brachos 1:4

In the morning, there are two brachos (blessings) before Shema and one after it. In the evening, there are two before and two after – one long and one short. One is not permitted to change the text of a bracha, neither lengthening a short one nor shortening a long one. Similarly, some brachos have “Baruch Atah Hashem” at both the beginning and the end. One may not add such an ending where it was not instituted, nor omit it where it was instituted. (By way of illustration, the bracha Shehakol is short and has one “Baruch.” The bracha of Al HaMichya is long, and it both starts and ends with “Baruch.”)

Author: Rabbi Jack Abramowitz