I have heard that it is permissible to recite the Shema in any language, if one does not know Hebrew.

Rama quotes one opinion that reciting the words Kel Melech Ne'eman when praying without a minyan is done to increase the number of Hebrew words in the recital of the Shema from 245 to 248, the number of parts of the body. (Gloss to Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 61:3)

If one is reciting the Shema a language other than Hebrew, and is not in a minyan, is there any point in saying "Kel Melech Ne'eman," since the number of words is not likely to total 248 in any event?

  • 1
    Saying "El Melekh Ne'man" between the berakha and commencing keriyath shema is likely an outgrowth of saying amen to the shaliah sibbur's recitation. For sources that discuss the issue see here. May 30, 2013 at 20:17

1 Answer 1


The basic logic behind saying Kel Melech ne'eman is that the text of Shema itself contains 245 words, but there is a tradition (from Kaf Hachaim 61:10) to add 3 more to equal 248, so that it is k'neged the number of limbs in the body. Therefore, we add in Kel melech ne'eman when praying alone, since we don't have the chazzan to say "Hashem elokeichem emet." The Rema in Orach Chaim 61:3 takes note and mentions this practice as very widespread.

Regarding the original question, since you are praying in English, there is no point in saying Kel melech ne'eman.vita sole purpose is to bring the word count to 248, and because that isn't possible to do in English, there is no reason to say Kel melech ne'eman.

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    You just restated the question. This isn't an answer if you don't have sources.
    – Daniel
    May 30, 2013 at 20:07
  • @Daniel He answered "no" with logic. It's a weak answer without sources.
    – Double AA
    May 30, 2013 at 20:09
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    @DoubleAA He didn't add anything that the question didn't already state. The question already says that the purpose is to bring the word count to 248, but asks if there's any point in saying it anyway.
    – Daniel
    May 30, 2013 at 20:12
  • @Daniel He said no.
    – Double AA
    May 30, 2013 at 20:13
  • I didn't see Double AA's edits where he quotes my source from the S'A. The questioner asks if there was a point, and I said no, because he point of Kel melech ne'eman is not because the words are beautiful, but to make the words equal 248. This is impossible in English- so no need to say it. I brought the kaf hachaim who says the minahg to say 248 words. How is this a weak argument? May 30, 2013 at 20:16

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