The practical Mishneh-Miseches Brachos-Chapter 3: Those exempt from Shema

Chapter 3: Those exempt from Shema

1.       Mishneh 1: Exemption of relatives of deceased and by funeral

  • Onen: One whose relative has died and requires burial is exempt from reading the Shema and Davening, and from putting on Tefillin. [Practically, we rule that an Onen is exempt from all Positive Mitzvos, whether Biblical or Rabbinical, until after the burial.[1] Furthermore, even if the Onen desires to be stringent upon himself and fulfill the command, it is Rabbinically forbidden for him to do so.[2]]
  • Pallbearers:[3] All those who are helping with carrying the body by the funeral are exempt from Shema, Tefilla, and Tefillin.
  • Those participating in funeral: Those who are not designated for carrying the body but are simply participating the in the funeral procession remain obligated [in reciting Shema]. However, they are exempt from Tefila.[4]

2.       Mishneh 2: Exemption when comforting the relatives of deceased

  • After burial before comforting: If after the burial there is enough time to say the Shema while walking to the area that the mourners are comforted, then it is to be recited. [Practically, if there will not be enough time to read the Shema later on, then they are to read it before forming the Shura, in all cases.[5]]
  • In line to comfort:[6] Those who after the burial are standing in the front line to comfort the relatives of the deceased are exempt from the Mitzvah of Shema. Those who are standing in the second line and thus do not see the face of the relatives, are obligated.

3.       Mishneh 3: Women, children, and slaves:[7]

  • Shema:[8] Women, children, and slaves are exempt from reading the Shema and from the Mitzvah of Tefillin. [Practically, although women are exempt from Shema it is nevertheless proper for them to say the first verse in order to accept the yoke of heaven upon them.[9] Regarding children: Children are Biblically exempt from reading the Shema, although some Poskim[10] say that they are Rabbinically obligated to be educated by their father in the Shema reading once they reach the age of Chinuch, and so is the proper ruling.[11]]
  • Tefila: Women, children, and slaves are obligated in the Mitzvah of Tefila. [Regarding women: Some Poskim[12] understand this to mean that women are Biblically obligated to pray some form of prayer every single day, but are not obligated Daven specifically Shacharis and Mincha and rather they suffice with saying a request from Hashem of their choosing. However, other Poskim[13] understand this to mean that women are obligated to Daven daily Shemoneh Esrei of Shacharis and Mincha.[14] Practically, the main ruling follows the latter opinion [and women are obligated to Daven daily Shemoneh Esrei of Shacharis and Mincha].[15] However, they are exempt from Davening Maariv. Regarding children: A father is [Rabbinically] obligated to educate his son to Daven Shemoneh Esrei both by night[16] [Maariv] and day.[17]
  • Mezuzah: Women, children, and slaves are obligated in the Mitzvah of Mezuzah. [Regarding women: Practically, although women are Biblically obligated in the Mitzvah of Mezuzah[18], nevertheless, some Poskim[19] rule that a woman may not put up a Mezuzah and is rather to have a man do so for her.[20] Practically, if a woman/wife put it up, it remains Kosher and does not need to be replaced.[21] Nevertheless, some conclude that initially it is best for a man, such as the husband, to put up the Mezuzah.[22] Nevertheless, if there is no man/husband at home, the woman is even initially to put up the Mezuzah with a blessing and not delay until a man is available.[23] Regarding children: They are Rabbinically obligated to be educated to have a Mezuzah on their rooms [if they are living alone and have reached the age of Chinuch].[24] If they live in the home of an adult, such as their family, then the Biblical obligation is upon the family and not upon the child.[25] It is initially invalid for a child to put up a Mezuzah unless he lives on his own, even if he has reached the age of Chinuch, until he reaches the age of Bar Mitzvah and grows two pubic hairs.[26]]
  • Birchas Hamazon: Women, children, and slaves are obligated in the Mitzvah of Birchas Hamazon. [Regarding women: Practically, although women are obligated in reciting Birchas Hamazon as stated above, it is questionable as to whether this obligation is Biblical, just like by men, or if it is merely Rabbinical.[27] Regarding children: They are Rabbinically obligated to be educated]

4.       Mishneh 4: Baal Keri

  • Shema: A Baal Keri does not recite the Shema, or its before or after blessings, although is to think the words of the Shema in his mind. [This law is known as Takanas Ezra. Practically, we rule that a Baal Keri is to verbalize, and recite, the words of Shema and its blessings regularly, just like everyone else.[28] Nevertheless, it remains a great Mitzvah to immerse and purify oneself prior to reciting the Shema.[29]]
  • Birchas Hamazon: Dispute: The Tana Kama states that a Baal Keri is to recite an after blessing [in his mind[30]] after eating, but not beforehand [even in his mind]. Rebbe Yehuda, however, rules one recites [and verbalizes] a blessing before and after [and so is the practical Halacha that a Baal Keri is to recite all blessings just like everyone else[31]].

5.       Mishneh 5: Baal Keri cont/ Tzoah

  • Shemoneh Esrei: If in the midst of Shemoneh Esrei one remembered that he is a Baal Keri, then he is to shorten his prayer [and only say the opening and closing blessing of each blessing]. [Practically, we do not rule like the Mishneh, and conclude that a Baal Keri is to recite the entire Shemoneh Esrei regularly, just like everyone else.[32]]
  • Shema in Mikveh: If one descended into the Mikveh prior to sunrise in order to immerse from Keri, then if he is able to ascend from the Mikveh and get dressed and read the Shema prior to sunrise, then he is to do so. However, if he does not have enough time, then he is to cover himself with the water and read the Shema prior to sunrise. [Practically, we rule that there is no obligation to read the Shema before sunrise, and it is merely a Mitzvah Min Hamuvchar to do so.[33]] However, he is not to cover himself with bad waters [i.e. urine] or water used to soak flax [which have a bad stench], unless water was poured into them.
  • Davening near feces: How far is one to distance himself from feces? Four Amos.

6.       Mishneh 6: Zav/Nidah

  • A Zav who saw Keri, and a Nida who expelled semen, and a woman who had intercourse who expelled semen, needs to immerse in a Mikveh [prior to learning Torah and Davening]. However, Rebbe Yehuda exempts them all from immersing. [Practically, as stated above, we conclude that a Baal Keri is to recite the entire Shemoneh Esrei regularly, just like everyone else.]

[1] Admur 71:1; Michaber O.C. 71; Y.D. 341:1; Mishneh Brachos 17b;

[2] Admur ibid; Michaber ibid regarding Shema; Michaber 341:1 in name of Yeish Omrim; Tosafus Brachos ibid based on Yerushalmi Brachos 3:1; Rosh Brachos ibid

The reason: Although it does not take any time to answer Amen, and the needs of the corpse are not delayed in any way due to it, nevertheless it is Rabbinically forbidden to do so out of respect for the dead, as the Sages required that one’s mind be free to think of the needs of the deceased, and that he should constantly think of them. [Admur ibid; Taz 71:1; Yerushalmi ibid]

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule it is permitted for the Onen to be stringent upon himself to perform Mitzvos, as the entire reason behind the exemption is because one is dealing with one Mitzvah [of burying the dead] is exempt from other Mitzvos, in which case he may choose to be stringent. [See Pnei Baruch Onen 10] 

[3] Mishneh Brachos 17b; Michaber 358:1; O.C. 72:1; Admur 72:1

[4] Mishneh Brachos 17b; Admur 106:1; 72:1; Michaber 106:1

[5] Admur 72:4; M”A 72:4

[6] Admur 72:5

[7] Mishneh Brachos 20a

[8] Mishneh Brachos 20a; Michaber 70:1; Admur 70:1

[9] Michaber and Rama ibid; Admur 70:1; Ohel Moed Shaar Shema 2:3

[10] Stam opinion in Admur 70:2; 1st opinion in Michaber 70:2; Rabbeinu Tam in Tosafus Brachos ibid; Rosh Brachos 3:13

Other opinions: Some Poskim rule that even by a son who has reached the age of Chinuch, the father is exempt from educating him to recite Kerias Shema and its blessings. [2nd opinion in Admur ibid; 2nd opinion in Michaber ibid; Rashi Brachos ibid]

[11] Admur ibid; Michaber ibid

[12] 1st opinion in Admur 106/2; Rambam

[13] 2nd opinion in Admur 106/2; M”A 106/2 that so rule majority of Rishonim; Ramban in Hasagos Sefer Hamitzvos 5; Rashi Brachos

[14] Admur ibid

The reason: Although according to this opinion, Davening Shacharis and Mincha is a time dependent positive Rabbinical command of which women are exempt from fulfilling, as they are exempt from all time dependent positive commands even if Rabbinical, such as Hallel and Kiddush Levana, nevertheless, the Sages obligated them to Daven Shacharis and Mincha being that prayer is a request of mercy. [Admur ibid]

[15] Admur ibid and 101/5; M”A ibid in name of Poskim

[16] Admur ibid “Erev Vaboker”; M”B 106:5; Salmas Chaim 36; Piskeiy Teshuvos 107:2 hat this refers to Maariv [and not Mincha], so is evident from both the wording and the fact Admur writes it prior to Boker.

[17] Admur 106:3; Michaber 106:1; Mishneh Brachos 20a

[18] Michaber Y.D. 186:1; Mishneh Brachos 20a; Yuma 11b; Kiddushin 34a

[19] Yeshuos Malko Hilchos Tefillin Umezuzah [on Rambam] 5 rules the Mezuzah is invalid if placed by a woman; See Eretz Tzevi 15; Beir Moshe 2:100; Sefer Kevius Mezuzah Kehilchasa 13:8

Other opinions: Most Poskim rule that it is permitted for a woman to put up a Mezuzah, and it is not required to be done specifically by a man. [Setimas Haposkim who do not write such a Halacha that women are invalid; Possible implication of Admur 14:2 and 39:1 regarding the invalidation of women for Tzitzis and Tefillin that it is because they are not obligated in the Mitzvah, thus implying that if they were obligated, then they may prepare the Mitzvah; Chasam Sofer Y.D. 211 “They are not included in the Mitzvah of writing but are included in the Mitzvah of setting”; Implication of Maharshag Y.D. 57 regarding even gentile; Sdei Chemed Mareches Mem 131; Shevet Halevi 2:158-3 “I saw the opinion of Yeshuos Malko and in my opinion one cannot say this…and there is no doubt in my mind that it is valid.”; Kevius Mezuzah Kehilchasa ibid in name of Poskei Doreinu]

[20] The reason: As women are invalid to write the Mezuzah [Michaber 281:3; Beis Yosef 281; Gittin 45b; Shach 281:6; Aruch Hashulchan 281:1] due to a Hekesh of Keshira and Kesiva with Tefillin [see Gittin ibid; Admur 32:10] and just like women are excluded from all matters of Tikkun with the Tefillin due to this, so too they are excluded from all matters of Tikkun of the Mezuzah due to this, which includes putting it on the doorpost. [See Yeshuos Malko ibid and Beir Moshe ibid who offer two slightly different reasons behind their invalidations based on the above reasoning]

[21] Beir Moshe ibid; Shevet Halevi ibid; Kevius Mezuzah Kehilchasa ibid in name of Poskei Dorein; all Poskim in previous footnotes

[22] Beir Moshe ibid in order to escape the above dispute; Liekwise, an additional reason to precede the husband is because he is the owner of the home, and Mitzvah Bo Yoser Mibeshlucho. [See Daas Kedoshim 289:12; Nachals Tzevi 291 in name of Rav Akiva Eiger]

[23] See Shevet Halevi ibid that there is no doubt in this matter and they are certainly obligated to do so and thus Pashut that they may not delay the Mitzvah simply due to a Chumra of some Poskim

[24] Michaber 291:3

[25] Aruch Hashulchan 286:3

[26] See Daas Kedoshim Y.D. 289:2 that accoridng to the majority of Poskim, a gentile and child who put up a Mezuzah, the Mezuzah is invalid, as they do not have intent to do so Lishma. He concludes though with a Tzaruch Iyun. Regarding the two hairs: Tzaruch Iyun if one must know for certain, or we apply Chazaka Derava.

[27] Safek in Brachos 20b; Rambam Brachos 5:1; Rosh Brachos 3:13; Michaber 186:1; Admur 186:1

The reason: On the one hand, it is a non-time dependent positive command, and hence women should be Biblically obligated. On the other hand, the verse states “On the good land that you were given” and since the land was not given to females, as an inheritance, but rather to the males, therefore perhaps they are not Biblically obligated. [Rashi Brachos ibid; Admur ibid]

[28] Rav Nachman Bar Yitzchak Brachos 22a; Yerushalmi Yuma 8:1; Michaber 88:1; Admur 88:1


[30] See Admur 185:3; Rabbeinu Yona


[32] Rav Nachman Bar Yitzchak Brachos 22a; Yerushalmi Yuma 8:1; Michaber 88:1; Admur 88:1

[33] Admur 58:4; Michaber 58:1 who rules the Davening of Vasikin is only a Mitzvah Min Hamuvchar; Majority of Rishonim in Brachos 9b; Rashba; Tosafos Yuma 37b; Rosh; See Rashi ibid and 26a; Megillah 23a

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