I am aware that the Shema consists of 3 paragraphs, however, is there an abbreviated Shema? If so, what is it? Also, in what situations are we allowed to say the abbreviated version?


2 Answers 2


According to some opinions (Berachos 13b), only the first chapter - and according to some only the first verse - is of biblical obligation, and the rest is rabbinical

Therefore, the Rama writes (Orach Chaim 46:9) that it is good to say at least the first verse and ״ברוך שם…״ - and the Mishnah Berurah brings an opinion that one should say the entire first paragraph - before Shacharis, in case the time of Shema passes

Also if one is in Shul, while the congregation is reciting Shema, and is not holding with them, he must recite with them at least the first verse (Ibid 65)

Also, for the recital of Shema before going to sleep, one is obligated to read at least the first paragraph (Ibid 239)


The Gemara in Berachos 13b records that Rebbi (Rabbi Yehudah HaNasi) held that the biblical obligation of the recitation of Shema, consisted of only the first verse (the Artscroll version, footnote 26, cites the Rasbha, Ritva and the Meiri for this).

The Sages taught in a baraita: The single verse, “Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One”; this is Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s recitation of Shema. The Gemara relates: Rav said to his uncle, Rabbi Ḥiyya: I did not see Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi accept the kingship of Heaven upon himself, meaning that he did not see him recite Shema. Rabbi Ḥiyya said to him: Son of noblemen [bar paḥtei], when Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi passed his hands over his face in the study hall in the middle of his lesson, he accepted the yoke of the kingdom of Heaven upon himself, as his Shema was comprised of a single verse.

The halacha is (according to the Rambam in his Mishneh Torah), that the Shema must contain the three paragraphs:

What does one recite? [There are] three sections, and they are: "Shema" (Deuteronomy 6:4-9), "If ye shall hearken" (Deuteronomy 11:13-21), and "And the Lord spoke" (Numbers 15:37-41). One begins with the section "Shema" because it has in it of the unity of God, loving Him, and learning [of Torah], which is the greatest essence on which everything depends. After [the Shema], "If ye shall hearken" [is next] as in is the commandment of the rest of the commandments, and after thus is the portion [referring to] the fringes, that also have in it the commandment of remembering all the commandments.

The first paragraph of the Shema has an important goal: ol malchut shamayim - acceptance of the yoke of heaven. This article by Rabbi Yaakov Klass mentions a story of Rabbi Soloveitchik who explains how Rebbi could say only the first paragraph:

Although normally cutting a prayer short invalidates the entire recitation, in the case of Shema, it doesn’t. The purpose of the mitzvah is not saying words. It’s kabbalat ol malchut sha’mayim or kabbalat ol mitzvot.” Saying the words of Shema is merely the format by which these sacred commitments are made.

Accordingly, it’s understandable that one may fulfill the mitzvah by reciting only one the first verse as with this verse one accepts the yoke of heaven pertaining to the unity of G-d.

So per halacha, one should say the "full-version" of the Shema.

  • 1
    אמן Amen! יפה אמרת Well Said. Apr 12, 2023 at 17:56

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