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Berachos 4b: וכל העובר על דברי חכמים חייב מיתה One who transgress the words of the Sages [with regards to Shema] is liable to death.


I found the following here from the Yalkut Yosef authored by Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef sefardi Chief Rabbi of Israel. ד נוהגים ליתן יד ימין על העינים בקריאת פסוק שמע ישראל, כדי שלא יסתכל בדבר אחר שימנע ממנו לכוין. וגם איטר יד יניח יד ימין על עיניו בקריאת שמע. ואין צריך להסיר המשקפיים בעת שנותן ידיו על עיניו בקריאת שמע. וגם סומא בשני עיניו יניח יד ימינו ...


Since the simple, traditional reason for covering the eyes is in order not to be distracted [while reciting the Shema (proclaiming God’s kingship)], as stated in SA O.C. 61:5, therefore if one cannot see, due to a visual impairment, and covering the eyes won’t enhance focus there would be no reason to do so.


If I understand the משכנות יעקב [in סי' ע"ט] correctly, he writes that krias shema would depend on the time locals get up and go to sleep, and it is not dependent on the beginning of the day or the night. Therefore, he writes that places that have a short night, only the sleeping habits are taken into account. He then takes it a step further, and tries to ...


The issue is discussed in detail by R' Hamburger in Volume 4 of his priceless series, Shorshei Minhag Ashkenaz, and a bit shorther, but in English in the kitzur edition. His main point is that in Ashkenaz most Jews became unfamiliar with the proper melody of Torah reading over the centuries (see Orach Chayim 61:24), so they didn't read it anymore aloud and ...

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