web analytics
May 25, 2015 / 7 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance
Sponsored Post

Q & A: Standing During Birkot Keriat Shema (Part III)


Question: I have noticed that some people stand during the Birkot Keriat Shema. I was always under the impression that one is supposed to sit for Shema and its berachot. Is there a source that allows one to stand during this part of the prayer?

(Via E-Mail)


Summary of our response up to this point: One is indeed permitted to stand during Birkot Keriat Shema, and I often do so myself. We cited a similar question posed to my uncle Rabbi Sholom Klass, zt”l, about a practice in some Conservative synagogues to stand during Shema possibly based on a mistranslation of the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch’s statement (17:2), “Ve’im hayah yoshev, asur le’hachmir ve’la’amod.”

A popular English rendition of the Kitzur inadvertently translates this statement as: “If one happened to be sitting, then he is permitted to be strict and rise.” It should, however, read: “If he is sitting, he should not be overly strict and rise.” The Kitzur was following the position of both the Tur and the Mechaber (Orach Chayim 63:2) that one should remain seated.

The Magen Avraham explains that a person who acts strictly in public when he should be lenient is showing off, and he should be punished with excommunication. If it is known, however, that his actions are l’shem shamayim, we do not punish him. And yet, if a person is strict in front of his rabbi (in a matter that his rabbi is lenient about), then he should be punished with excommunication even if he is sincere.

Last week we turned to the source of the ruling of how to conduct oneself during Shema: Berachot 10b. We saw that according to Beth Shammai, Shema should be recited in the evening while reclining, but in the morning while standing. According to Beth Hillel, everyone should recite it in his own way. Nowhere do we see a requirement to sit during Shema. We concluded that each person can decide whether to stand or sit.

We referred to Rosh Hashanah’s tekiyot me’yushav (sitting blasts) and tekiyot me’umad (standing blasts). They are called by those names not because we are required to sit or stand when hearing them. Instead, the first blasts are blown when one may sit, i.e., before the Amidah, while the latter are blown in the course of the Amidah, when one must stand.

* * * * *

For a better understanding of this matter, let us turn to the Gemara (Berachot 13b): R. Nathan b. Mar Ukba said in the name of R. Judah: “‘al levavecha – upon your heart’ must be recited standing. Not only the words ‘upon your heart’ but up to the words ‘upon your heart’ must be said standing. From that point, it is not necessary to stand. R. Johanan, however, said: The entire first section must be recited while standing.”

The Bach (on the Tur, Orach Chayim 63) explains that these statements refer specifically to someone who is walking along his way when the appointed time to recite Shema arrives. Even Beth Hillel would agree that this person should stop because a person is not settled and cannot have the type of proper kavanah when he is walking as when he is standing still. In other words, the requirement to stand doesn’t mean one must get up if one is sitting. What it means is that if one is walking, one must stop and stand still.

In his commentary on the Tur, the Bet Yosef cites both the Rif and the Rosh commenting on the Jerusalem Talmud. They are even more emphatic on the issue and state: “It does not mean that if a person is sitting, he should stand. Rather, if he is walking, then he should stand still. This is in accord with Rashi (B.T. 13b s.v.b’amida”) and Tosafot (ad loc. s.v.al leva’vevecha b’amida”) who explains that even though Beth Hillel rules that every man should say Shema in his own way, a person optimally performs the mitzvah by standing still if he is walking because his mind is not that settled and he would find it difficult to attain the proper concentration.”

Indeed, the Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 2:1) cites the following: “R. Chuna, R. Uri, Rav Joseph and Rav Judah said in the name of Samuel: One is obligated to accept upon himself the yoke of the Heavenly Kingdom while standing. I would think that this means that if a person is sitting he should stand, but no, it means rather that if he is walking, he should stand still.”

In his concluding comment to the seventh chapter of Berachot (infra 7:5 in the Jerusalem Talmud), Rabbi Moshe Margolies (Mar’eh Hapanim s.v.achal mehalech…”) notes that in general [he is discussing Birkat Hamzon] one does not properly display honor and fear of G-d if one recites while walking.

Thus, it is clear that it suffices for one to sit or stand in one place in order to have proper kavanah, even during Shema.

What is most interesting is what I found in the Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chayim 63:3). He reiterates most of what we have said, but adds the following, which to me was quite astonishing: “…therefore, for those who have the custom to say on Yom HakipurimBaruch Shem K’vod Malchuto l’olam va’ed’ while standing, it is permissible to rise upon reaching Keriat Shema, even though one is sitting and would be able to have proper concentration. This is because [in this instance, one is not standing] due to the obligation of Keriat Shema. Rather it is due to the obligation of the day [i.e., Yom Kippur].”

We find in the notes to Shulchan Aruch Harav (note 21) that the source for this practice is none other than Ateret Zakeinim in the name of the Maharshal (Rabbi Shlomo Luria) in his glosses on the Tur. We find in the note the following qualifier: “But such is not the custom of Chabad.”

From what I have observed on Yom Hakipurim in every Orthodox venue where I have participated, all congregants say “Baruch shem kvod…” aloud but do not rise for its recitation. I would be interested if any of our readers could apprise me of such a practice in an Orthodox synagogue.

Nevertheless, as I noted at the outset, one may stand or sit for the entire Birkot Keriat Shema. Either way, one is acting properly from a halachic perspective.

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.

If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Q & A: Standing During Birkot Keriat Shema (Part III)”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Former Israel Ambassador to the UN Dore Gold.
Bibi Seals Nationalist Policy with Dore Gold Heading Foreign Ministry
Latest Judaism Stories

There is a great debate as to whether this story actually took place or is simply a metaphor, a prophetic vision shown to Hoshea by Hashem.


Every person is presented with moments when he/she must make difficult decisions about how to proceed.


One does not necessarily share the opinions of one’s brother. One may disapprove of his actions, values, and/or beliefs. However, with brothers there is a bond of love and caring that transcends all differences.


This Shavuot let’s give G-d a gift too: Let’s make this year different by doing just 1 more mitzvah

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if […]

God and the divine origin of His Torah are facts even though we do not fully comprehend them.

So if we basically live the same life, why should he get eternal reward and not me?”

The question is: What about pidyon haben? Can one give the five sela’im required for pidyon haben to a kohen’s daughter?

In Parshas Pinchas the Torah introduces the Mussaf for Shavuos by describing it as Yom HaBikurim when we bring the new offering.

Rachel was thrown by the sight and began to caringly think whom this person might be.

The desert, with its unearthly silence & emptiness, is the condition in which the Word can be heard

The census focused on the individual, proving each is created as irreplaceable, unique images of God

Jewish survival in a dysfunctional world requires women assuming the role Hashem gave them at Sinai

The Honor Of Reading The Kesubah
‘Witnesses Sign Only After Reading…’
(Kesubos 109a)

Why does the Torah use two different words for “to count,” and what does each indicate?

From Bemidbar on and in Nevi’im, the nation is viewed primarily by its component parts, the tribes

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times, alternating hands? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining to young children? What is the protocol if […]

Question: Should we wash our hands in the bathroom with soap and water, or by pouring water from a vessel with handles three times on each hand alternatingly? I have heard it said that a vessel is used only in the morning upon awakening. What are the rules pertaining young children? What is the protocol if no vessel is available? Additionally, may we dry our hands via an electric dryer?

Harry Koenigsberg
(Via E-Mail)

Question: If Abraham was commanded to circumcise his descendants on the eighth day, why do Arabs – who claim to descend from Abraham through Yishmael – wait until their children are 13 to circumcise them? I am aware that this is a matter of little consequence to our people. Nevertheless, this inconsistency is one that piques my curiosity.

M. Goldman
(Via E-mail)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-standing-during-birkot-keriat-shema-part-iii/2013/12/19/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: