The Mishna on Berachos 10b cites the opinions of Beis Shammai stating that one must lie down to read the evening Krias Shema, and Beis Hillel as saying that one can say it in any position. On the next daf, the Gemara recounts a story of someone who followed Beis Shammai's ruling putting himself in danger, and the Rabbis say that he was liable for death because he followed Beis Shammai.

Are we allowed to be Machmir on ourselves in Krias Shema and read like the opinion of Beis Shammai? It seems from the story in the Gemara that one shouldn't follow Beis Shammai if it will put you in danger, however, if I am not in danger, would I be able to follow Beis Shammai's opinion and be considered doing a Hiddur Mitzva?

  • 1
    I understood it the opposite way. He put himself in danger by following Beis Shammai Jan 27, 2014 at 3:36
  • @ShmuelBrin I think ha bha talya, its basically the same Jan 27, 2014 at 4:36
  • @ShmuelBrin but isn't going like beis shammai going also like beis hillel, just more machmir Jan 27, 2014 at 7:17
  • @ShmuelBrin for majority not minority Jan 28, 2014 at 3:09
  • @Efraim ditto... Jan 28, 2014 at 3:28

2 Answers 2


The gemara there also recounts the story of an Amora who specifically stood up in order to show that he was not following the position of Beis Shammai. The Bach in hilchos krias shema (Orech Chaim 63), cited by the mishna berura (same place), rules that one should be careful not to sit down just before shema in order to not give the impression that he is following Beis Shammai. Elya Rabba says that one can sit down just before krias shema because it could be interpreted as an act of convenience.


Incomplete answer:

The g'mara on Rosh Hashana 14b says (Soncinco translation):

But is it right to adopt the harder rule from both sides? Has it not been taught: ‘As a general principle, the halachah follows Beth Hillel. If one prefers, however, to adopt the rule of Beth Shammai, he may do so, and if he desires to adopt the rule of Beth Hillel he may do so. One, however, who adopts the more lenient rulings of both Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel1 is a bad man, while to one who adopts the more stringent rulings of both Beth Shammai and Beth Hillel may be applied the verse, But the fool walketh in darkness. No; either one must follow Beth Shammai both where they are more severe and more lenient or Beth Hillel both where they are more severe and more lenient’?2

You ask: "Are we allowed to be Machmir on ourselves in Krias Shema and read like the opinion of Beis Shammai?" The implication here is that a necessary precondition is that you follow Beit Shammai for everything.

Whether, having adopted the customs of Beit Shammai, you must still not do this one because of (historical) danger is not clear to me. But presumably Beit Shammai did in the past (even with danger) because it was their tradition, so if you want to wholly align yourself with Beit Shammai you might be able to make the argument that you can do this. But if your goal is chidur mitzvah, not to affirm Shammai, consider instead the approach suggested in this answer.

1 An editorial note here says "on the same subject" but I don't know why they say that as we don't pick and choose our traditions (e.g. you can't be Sefardi for kitniyot but Ashnenazi for something else).

2 Cast as a question here because this is part of a discussion, but what follows makes it clear that this policy is not in question.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .