Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Berachos 13

Today's daf was chock full of interesting topics, both aggadic and halachic. While there are many things I would love to write about, I will just focus on an interesting question posed in relation to the Shema.

The gemara notes that one who lengthens the Daled in the word "Echad" in the first sentence of Kriyas Shema will be zoche to long life. The gemara then relates a story where R' Yirmiah saw that R' Chiya Bar Abba was excessively prolonging the Echad. He remarked to him, you just need to say it long enough to have in mind to accept Hashem as ruler above, below and to the four corners of the world.

The Sefer Shearim Hamitzuyanim B'Halacha asks whether the order of directions makes a difference, or whether a person could still fulfill his obligation if he has in mind the four directions before above and below. He notes that we learn in Gemara Sukkah 37b that a person who waves the lulav and esrog must wave first to the four corners of the earth and then above and below. He also cites the mitzva of tenufa (waiving) which the Torah teaches in Parshas Tezaveh should be forwards and backwards before up and down.

In answering his question, he poses that the order should not make a difference. He first notes that the Ches in Echad comes before the Daled and that the Ches is a reminder of the seven heavens and the earth, while the Daled is a signal to the four corners of the earth. However he discounts that the order should make a difference because the law of tenufah is biblical in nature and as such must be strictly adhered to. He also explains that the Arizal wrote that when waving the lulav, one should wave South, North, East and then up and down before finally waving West. Therefore he concludes that the order of intention when saying the Shema should not matter.

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