The latest time for reciting the קְרִיאַת-שְׁמַע is שׇׁלוֺש שׇׁעוֺת זְמׇנִיּוֺת (three variable hours) after sunrise (Orach Chayim 58:1). On Shabbat, many communities recite the morning Shema after this latest Biblical time. Hence, ba'al batim at these shuls have the practice of reciting the three paragraphs of Shema at home to fulfill the requirement.

My question is why do we still treat the recitation of the Shema in shul on Shabbat past the allowed time as if it were the real thing? To give two examples, many people who show up to shul late will interrupt themselves in the middle of a Psalm to join the minyan in saying the Shema. But isn't this pointless, since the time for the Biblical mitzvah has already passed? As a second example, why do we kiss the צִיצִת of the טׇלׅית when reciting the last paragraph of the Shema in shul when the time to fulfill the mitzvah has already passed?

As a bonus question, is this the reason that many communities have a Hashkamah minyan on Shabbat? These early minyans meet early enough that they can recite the Shema before the allotted time has past.

  • 1
    My guess is that Shema is both a time-bound mitzva, as well as a general concept of expressing one's belief in Hashem. That's probably why people will interrupt their Psalm to recite it with the congregation, to avoid seeming like they disagree.
    – Ypnypn
    Feb 25, 2015 at 1:59
  • 2
    For the Talit example, the time for Tzitzit is the whole day, so why would that be affected by the time for the Shema?
    – Ypnypn
    Feb 25, 2015 at 2:00
  • 2
    Motion to separate the bonus q to a separate post
    – Double AA
    Feb 25, 2015 at 2:14
  • I was assuming that we kiss the צִיצִת during the recitation of the שְׁמַע to show that we are fulfilling the two mitzvot (recitation and צִיצִת) at the same time. Feb 25, 2015 at 2:18
  • @DoubleAA Mightn't it be POB?
    – Scimonster
    Feb 25, 2015 at 7:33

1 Answer 1


R. Yosef Messas has a responsum (Otzar Hamichtavim 3:1825) about late-starting synagogues on Shabbat as it relates to the time for reciting Shema. One point that he makes is that one rabbi said that he heard from many exceptional rabbis that on Shabbat we aren't so punctilious about the time for reciting Shema because the commandment to enjoy Shabbat is biblical while the time for Shema may be only rabbinic.

If we assume that the time limitation is only rabbinic then it is possible that the recitation in the synagogue even after the prescribed time is the real thing (for those who haven't already said it) because it is a fulfillment of the biblical commandment to recite Shema even if it is not a fulfillment of the rabbinic time limit. Thus, it would not be surprising if some congregants engaged in practices that would be indicative of it being the real thing.

Whether you accept the above argument or not, the two practices you mentioned are probably not actually indicative of treating it as the real thing. Regarding kissing the tzitzit, see Shulchan Aruch 24:4 (Rema) that this is for the endearment of the mitzvah of tzitzit, so it may not be so relevant whether the particular recitation is a fulfillment of the commandment of reciting Shema.

Regarding interrupting to join the congregation reciting Shema, this may also not be related to the status of the particular recitation. The law as codified in Shulchan Aruch 65:2 is that one must join the congregation for the first verse of Shema so as not to appear as if he is not accepting the yoke of the kingdom of heaven along with them. This would be an issue whether or not he has already personally fulfilled the commandment of reciting Shema. In fact, the law is actually formulated with reference to someone who has already recited Shema.

As for the bonus question of whether people specifically pray earlier in order to recite Shema within the allotted time, it is certainly possible that some people do it for this reason. In fact, the Talmud (Megillah 23a) states that on Shabbat we come early to the synagogue, and Rashi explains that this is so that we can recite Shema like the Vatikin, which as established in Berachot 9b is right before sunrise.

  • Your second argument is more compelling than the first, because even if we were to accept the theory that the time for saying Shema is Rabbinic, the OP already mentioned that "ba'al batim at these shuls have the practice of reciting the three paragraphs of Shema at home to fulfill the requirement". Thus, regardless they have already fulfilled their obligation.
    – user9643
    Feb 19, 2019 at 2:32
  • @Ploni The first argument was to cover the possibility that individual congregants might not have said Shema yet (even if in general congregants did).
    – Alex
    Feb 19, 2019 at 2:34
  • related (to the point about kissing tzitzit): judaism.stackexchange.com/q/14665/9643
    – user9643
    Feb 19, 2019 at 2:40

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