According to Halacha, does the Sh’ma prayer have to be recited out loud? Or can it be read by oneself? I mean B’dieved, Lechatlicha it is likely preferable to verbalize it.

  • 2
    "by heart" usually is contrasted with "reading from a text" not "out loud". Do you mean just thinking the words but not saying them?
    – Double AA
    Commented Jan 30 at 22:21

1 Answer 1


H. Qeriath Shem'a 2:8

צריך להשמיע לאוזנו, כשהוא קורא; ואם לא השמיע לאוזנו, יצא. וצריך לדקדק, באותייותיה; ואם לא דיקדק, יצא

One should recite the Shem'a so that his words are audible to himself. [However, even] if he does not do this, he fulfills his obligation. One must enunciate the letters clearly. [However, even] if he does not do this, he fulfills his obligation.

The Shulhan Arukh has a slightly different permutation (OH 62:3):

צריך להשמיע לאזנו מה שמוציא בפיו ואם לא השמיע לאזנו יצא ובלבד שיוציא בשפתיו

[When reading the Shem'a,] one must hear with their ears what comes out of their mouth, but if one did not hear it, they [still] fulfilled their obligation as long as they brough it out of their lips (ie. articulated it with their mouth).

The Rambam's articulation of the law leaves ambiguity about whether one may fulfill it merely by reciting it in one's mind. The SA however demands, that even in the non-ideal scenario where one cannot hear their own recitation - at the very least, it had to have in fact been verbally enunciated.

  • His language seems to imply that it must be verbalized albeit not necessarily audible. Do you concur?
    – Nahum
    Commented Jan 30 at 23:00
  • I'm referring to ואם לא השמיע לאוזנו, יצא
    – Nahum
    Commented Jan 30 at 23:06
  • @Nahum If he fails to be able to hear himself he nevertheless fulfills his obligation... first scenario (להשמיע לאוזנו) is לכתחילה and the second scenario (אם לא השמיע לאוזנו) is בדיעבד. Am I still misunderstanding what you are trying to get at? Commented Jan 30 at 23:15
  • Lol. I'm talking to @DoubleAA's point. In other words it seems from Rambam's language that merely thinking the words w/o inaudibly verbalizing them doesn't cut it. What do you think?
    – Nahum
    Commented Jan 30 at 23:20
  • @Nahum I think that there are different means by which one can be described as לא השמיע לאוזנו such as a) he simply didn't try and said it in his mind without moving his mouth, b) he used his mouth but wasn't loud enough c) he was loud but those around him were louder and drowned him out to himself... I don't see that the Rambam (here) differentiates what occasion leads to the בדיעבד scenario. I'm open to other suggestions. Commented Jan 30 at 23:24

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