This section from the Haggadah:

Pesach Haggadah, Magid, Story of the Five Rabbis 1:

מַעֲשֶׂה בְּרַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר וְרַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ וְרַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר בֶּן-עֲזַרְיָה וְרַבִּי עֲקִיבָא וְרַבִּי טַרְפוֹן שֶׁהָיוּ מְסֻבִּין

בִּבְנֵי-בְרַק וְהָיוּ מְסַפְּרִים בִּיצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם כָּל-אוֹתוֹ הַלַּיְלָה, עַד שֶׁבָּאוּ תַלְמִידֵיהֶם וְאָמְרוּ לָהֶם רַבּוֹתֵינוּ הִגִּיעַ זְמַן קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע שֶׁל שַׁחֲרִית.‏

It happened once [on Pesach] that Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarfon were reclining in Bnei Brak and were telling the story of the exodus from Egypt that whole night, until their students came and said to them, "The time of [reciting] the morning Shema has arrived."

I don't recall offhand which page(s) in Masechet Brachot discuss(es) the earliest time for reciting the morning Shema (someone, please edit). But, IIRC, there was a debate.

The beginning of the Hagadda says:

וְכָל הַמַּרְבֶּה לְסַפֵּר בִּיצִיאַת מִצְרַיִם הֲרֵי זֶה מְשֻׁבָּח. ‏

And anyone who adds [and spends extra time] in telling the story of the exodus from Egypt, behold he is praiseworthy.

Perhaps, the students used the earlier ruling regarding the Shema; perhaps, their ruling may have differed from those of the rabbis; perhaps, the rabbis themselves differed in their practices; perhaps, even if they used the early time to begin Shema, there may have been an exception because they were learning.

The point is, if they could have used the later time instead of the earlier time, they would have fulfilled the mitzvah of spending more time discussing the Hagada, as suggested in the above paragraph.

So, Which ruling did the (students of) these rabbis follow?

  • If we knew, then there wouldn't be different shitot, would there?
    – 147zcbm
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 20:34
  • @147zcbm No. Why must everyone else rule like these rabbis?
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 21:03
  • 1
    DanF, why do you want to know this? It doesn't seem to add any meaning to the story.
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 3, 2015 at 21:03
  • The source for the times is Brachot 1:2. R' Eliezer argues on stam mishna regarding the earliest time; R' Eliezer and R' Yehoshua argue regarding the latest time.
    – Scimonster
    Commented Apr 4, 2015 at 19:56
  • 1
    @DoubleAA That's not apparent from a literal reading of the Haggada's words. It says that they discussed all night (1st question is when does "night" end) until their students told them that the time for kri'at shema has arrived - the time for kri'at shema is what stopped them (from Hagada's pshat) and that time is debatable.
    – DanF
    Commented Apr 13, 2015 at 14:19

1 Answer 1


This Berayta is very interesting among others, because two points. First, we learn here that (according to this berayta), there is a mitsva to start Shema as soon as possible, or at least, to stop the Tora's learning when the time of Shema's reciting is comming (1). We learn also that according to the related event, Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Akiva are agreing on one thing. The starting time of Shema.

As soon in comments, in Mishna and Gemara, in Rishonim, all this is dealt extensively.

First the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer is in Mishna and is explained in Gemara.

(Berachot 9b) Mishnah: From what time may one recite the Shema in the morning? from the time that one can distinguish between blue and white. Rabbi Eliezer says: between blue and green.

Secondly, the time of KS according to Rabbi Akiva, two beraytot:

(Berachot 9b): Rabbi Akiba says: Between an ass and a wild ass.

Moreover, two versions of Rabbi Akiva's opinion according to Rabbi Shim'on, his student, are mentioned above Berachot 8b. ,I follow the lecture of the Baal Hamaor in this Gemara, which is literal and easy to explain.

It was taught, Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai says: Sometimes a man may recite the Shema' twice in the night, once before the dawn breaks and once after the dawn breaks, and thereby fulfil his duty once for the day and once for the night.

... 'He thereby fulfils his duty once for the day ... It is in reality night, but he calls day because some people rise at that time.

... Some people refer this [statement] of Rabbi Aha bar Hanina to the following lesson, which has been taught: Rabbi Simeon ben Yohai says in the name of Rabbi Akiba: Sometimes a man may recite the Shema' twice in the day-time, once before sunrise and once after sunrise, and thereby fulfill his duty once for the day and once for the night...

So, we already see two opinions regarding the opinion of rabbi Akiva according to Rabbi Shim'on {despite that the second berayta only mention Rabbi Akiva, see Raavad who points this, we don't want to address this detail}. The Berayta of the Hagada may be congruent to the first, so Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Eliezer may agree regarding shema's time.

Regarding Rabbi Yehoshua, it seems from the Gemara Berachot 25b that he aggrees to Rabbi Eliezer regarding the fact that preferentially it's better to recite Shema before the first rising of the sun.

May we say that the Mishnah teaches anonymously the same as Rabbi Eliezer, who said that [the Shema' may be recited] until the rising of the sun?

So, what is the hour of the reported event quoted in the Hagada, when the students have told the rabbis that they need to stop the Exodus learning because of the erliest time for morning Shema? I think that this time was the time in which we can distinguish between blue and green or between an ass and a wild ass.

(1): See Gemara Berachot 5b:

תניא, אבא בנימין אומר: על שני דברים הייתי מצטער כל ימי - על תפלתי שתהא לפני מטתי...‏ לא תימא לפני מטתי, אלא אימא: סמוך למטתי. ‏‏

It has been taught: Abba Benjamin says, All my life I took great pains about two things: that my prayer should be before my bed ... etc... Do not read 'before my bed', but 'near my bed.


סמוך למטתי. כל ימי נזהרתי שלא לעשות מלאכה ושלא לעסוק בתורה כשעמדתי ממטתי עד שאקרא ק''ש ואתפלל: ‏‏

... I have been careful to not work and not study Tora when I got up until I say KS and pray.


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