In Megillah 4.6, R. Judah says: "He that has never seen the light may not recite the Shema' with its Benedictions."

I interpret "has never seen the light" as "blind" (rather than lacking inspiration or worthiness) since the previous line talks about how the blind, specifically, "may recite the Shema with its Benedictions and recite."

Why did R. Judah not see the blind fit for reciting the Shema with their benedictions? Did he perceive their blindness as a blemish, and therefore an emblem of their lack of unworthiness? Does his standpoint (concerning the blind and recitations of Shema) hold any influence on any sects today? I hope not, but I'm just curious.

  • Where did you get that translation from? It isn't very accurate.
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 16:08
  • I actually got the source from both my rabbi and my professor specializing in rabbinics -- Danby, Herbert, The Mishnah: Translated from the Hebrew with Introduction and Brief Explanatory Notes. London: Oxford University Press, 1933. What is a more accurate translation? I do recognize this is a 1933 translation so if you have a better updated one, let me know? I know Nuesner has a 1988 translation, but I don't have access to it. Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 16:12

1 Answer 1


The context of that Mishna is discussing who is fit to lead the congregation in prayers, and in particular that line is part of a dispute if a blind person can lead the prayer of Shema and its blessings. (Note "leading" here means reciting the entire section aloud for the congregation to hear and fulfill their obligations by reciting Amen at the end of each blessing.) The first blessing before Shema is a blessing about the creation of light and the diurnal changes between night and day. According to R. Judah, a blind person who doesn't experience that can't say that blessing for others, while the opinion before his says he may (because, as the Talmud (24b) explains, a blind person benefits from daylight as through it others become better able to assist him). This has nothing to do with "worthiness".

  • I would also emphasize the distinction between Sh'ma and its benedictions, as the OP seems to conflate them.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 16:20
  • @DoubleAA Would you make a blessing of 'mezonot' on something you weren't going to eat but someone else (not your minor child) who was with you intended to eat? Suppose they were going to learn with you after eating. So theoretically, they could contribute more to your learning by their eating. Your benefit in such a case would be indirect or secondary. But you wouldn't make the blessing. Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 18:21
  • @YaacovDeane Ok, so no mezonot. So what?
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 19:22
  • @DoubleAA At least on the surface, since what they are talking about in Megillah 24 a&b is about whether the blind person benefits directly from the sun and this being the justification for permitting him making the blessing for the congregation, the reason presented by Rabbi Yossi and accepted by the majority doesn't seem to make sense. It's OK if you don't have any thoughts on the subject. But it is an interesting point that seems to need further clarification. Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 19:37
  • @YaacovDeane I don't see what the problem is. We aren't talking about a birkat hanehenin so the analogy with mezonot seems quite out of place (though you might be interested in a similar position here judaism.stackexchange.com/a/27279/759)
    – Double AA
    Commented Aug 8, 2016 at 19:41

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