Friday, June 27, 2008

Shema is Torah

The Gemora (Daf Yomi: Sotah 33a) asks: Shall we say that Rebbe holds that the Torah (the Torah reading on Shabbos according to Rashi, or on special Biblically mandated occasions according to Tosfos) may be read in any other language, for if it would enter your mind that it must be recited in the Holy Tongue, why would it be necessary for the Torah to write And they shall be to teach us that shema must be recited in Hebrew?

The Gemora states that this is not necessarily the case. It is necessary to teach that the shema must be recited in Hebrew, for since it says Shema, we might have thought that it could be recited in any language (even though the Torah must be read in Hebrew).

The commentators ask: What is the connection between the reading of the Torah and the mitzvah of kerias shema? Perhaps the Torah must be recited in Hebrew, and yet kerias shema can be recited in any language.

The Keren Orah answers that it is evident from our Gemora that the mitzva of reciting kerias shema every day is actually a mitzvah of “Talmud Torah.” The obligation is to recite portions of the Torah twice daily. Obviously there is a mitzvah of accepting the yoke of Heaven by reciting these portions, but the commandment of the Torah is to learn these portions once in the morning and once at night.

This is why the Gemora states that if one merely recited kerias shema in the morning and evening, he has discharged his obligation of studying Torah day and night.