Monday, August 13, 2012

Berachot 10: College students and sof zman krias Shema

Cartoon from Ohr Sameach
Cross-posted to my Daf Yomi blog (check it out).

There is a famous story about what happened when NASA sent the first frum Jew into space. On his return, he was asked by reporters how he liked it.
He came into the room completely dishevelled. His beard was tangled, his kippah was askew and his tallis was creased. The reporters asked him whether he enjoyed the experience.
He threw his hands in the air and said, "Enjoy? Oy vay, you must be joking. How could I find time to enjoy? Every few minutes the sun was rising and setting! So it was on with the tefillin, off with the tefillin, shacharis, mincha, maariv, shacharis, mincha, maariv...."
Obviously, the halachos of tefillah and tefillin would change given the different metzius.

This brings me to the following Mishna and gemara. On Berachot daf 9b, we have the Mishna:
מתני' מאימתי קורין את שמע בשחרית משיכיר בין תכלת ללבן ר' אליעזר אומר בין תכלת לכרתי (וגומרה) עד הנץ החמה ר' יהושע אומר עד שלש שעות שכן דרך מלכים לעמוד בשלש שעות הקורא מכאן ואילך לא הפסיד כאדם הקורא בתורה:
Or, in English:
MISHNAH. FROM WHAT TIME MAY ONE RECITE THE SHEMA IN THE MORNING? FROM THE TIME THAT ONE CAN DISTINGUISH BETWEEN BLUE AND WHITE. R. ELIEZER SAYS: BETWEEN BLUE AND GREEN. AND HE HAS TIME TO FINISH UNTIL SUNRISE. R. JOSHUA SAYS: UNTIL THE THIRD HOUR OF THE DAY, FOR SUCH IS THE CUSTOM OF KINGS, TO RISE AT THE THIRD HOUR. IF ONE RECITES THE SHEMA' LATER HE LOSES NOTHING, BEING LIKE ONE WHO READS IN THE TORAH.12
To explain the position of Rabbi Yehoshua, the Torah sets the time of Shema via the following pasuk, in Devarim 6:7:
ז  וְשִׁנַּנְתָּם לְבָנֶיךָ, וְדִבַּרְתָּ בָּם, בְּשִׁבְתְּךָ בְּבֵיתֶךָ וּבְלֶכְתְּךָ בַדֶּרֶךְ, וּבְשָׁכְבְּךָ וּבְקוּמֶךָ.7 and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thy house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
And 'when thou risest up' means the time of rising. Since kings rise three hours after sunrise, it is considered to be a time of kima, waking up, even for non-kings.

On daf 10b:
ר' יהושע אומר עד ג' שעות:
אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל הלכה כרבי יהושע:
Thus,we pasken like Rabbi Yehoshua.

Now, there are two ways of understanding the halacha. One is that the Torah said וּבְקוּמֶךָ and so it is as if the Torah said 'until three hours'. Or, more correct, that the Torah said וּבְקוּמֶךָ and so it means 'when people in general are waking up', and the application of that is 'until three hours'.

The position of the Chazon Ish is that reality at the time of the Talmud defines halachic practice. Thus:
Should the halachot of treifot then change to fit the current reality? The Chazon Ish explains, based on the Gemara in Avodah Zarah 9a, that the world was divided into three periods - two thousand years of tohu, two thousand years of Torah, and two thousand years of Mashiach. The full explanation of this passage is fascinating but will take us well off topic. However, the Chazon Ish explained that the halachot of treifot were based on nature as it was during the time of Torah, the two thousand years between Avraham and approximately the close of the Mishna. Since at that time the treifot as described in the Talmud caused an animal to die within a year, we are still forbidden to eat such animals even if they can now survive for over a year.
So too (Rav Schachter mentioned in shiur), it might be that we must be koveah the sof zman krias Shema based on when people rose at the time of the gemara.

I don't think we should say like the Chazon Ish. And if so, consider that on the day I wrote the post, the sof zman krias Shema was:

Latest Shema Magen Avrahamסוף זמן קריאת שמע
מגן אברהם
Using "90 minutes..." as dawn and nightfall8:31:26לפי 90 דקות במעלות
Using "Fixed 72 minutes..."8:54:41לפי 72 דקות שוות
Using "72 minutes as 16.1 degrees"8:44:09לפי 72 דקות במעלות
Latest Shema Gra & Baal Tanya9:30:41סוף זמן קריאת שמע
גר"א ובעל התני


Meanwhile, when does your typical college student wake up? Nishtaneh hateva, nature changed! College students are a demographic just as much as kings are. And if the zeman is indeed when people are waking up, then I would not worry too much about sof zman krias Shema.

Speaking more broadly, two things have changed since the time of the gemara: we are no longer an agrarian society, and the introduction of cheap electric lights. A farmer wakes at dawn and works till dusk, since he needs the daylight. Nowadays, by and large, not so many people are working the land, and we can set for ourselves what the day, and workday, will look like. Should this cause a shift in ובשכבך ובקומיך?

Of course, consult your local Orthodox rabbi.

6 comments:

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

See http://hebrewbooks.org/944

Reb Chaim HaQoton said...

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Jenny said...

More fundamentally, can you point to a source to answer the following simple question?

Why should it be that בשכבך is defined as the entire time that you are sleeping (i.e. one can say KS all night) while בקומך is only the time when one wakes up (i.e. until a few hours into the day, based on such demographic)?

joshwaxman said...

Reb Chaim HaQoton:
thanks!

Jenny:
an interesting question. my best guess is that it has to do with the most *literal* meaning of each of these words. שכב does not mean lie down, but lying down, while קומ refers to the very act of arising.

kol tuv,
josh

Jr said...

The classical commentaries address Jenny's question.
See :
Kesef mishna ch. 1 of krias shma Halacha 13
Mg"a siman 58 # 7
Taz siman 58 # 4

SoMeHoW Frum said...

Hi R. Josh.

You and your readers may enjoy this.

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