There is a contradiction between one statement of Rabbi Meir and the other statement of Rabbi Meir. The Gemara responds: Two tanna’im, students of Rabbi Meir, expressed different opinions in accordance with Rabbi Meir’s opinion.
So too, the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer cited in the mishna contradicts the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer cited in the baraita. In the mishna, Rabbi Eliezer holds that the time for the recitation of Shema begins with the emergence of the stars: From the time when the priests enter to partake of their teruma, while in the baraita, he states that the time for the recitation of Shema begins when the day becomes sanctified on the eve of Shabbat.
The Gemara responds: There are two possible resolutions to the apparent contradiction in Rabbi Eliezer’s opinion. Either two tanna’im expressed different opinions in accordance with Rabbi Eliezer’s opinion, or if you wish, say instead that the first clause of the mishna, according to which we begin to recite Shema when the priests enter to partake of their teruma, is not actually Rabbi Eliezer’s opinion. Only the second half of the statement: Until the end of the first watch, was stated by Rabbi Eliezer.
עַד סוֹף הָאַשְׁמוּרָה.
In the mishna, we learned that Rabbi Eliezer establishes that one may recite the evening Shema until the end of the first watch. These watches are mentioned in the Bible as segments of the night, but it must be established: Into precisely how many segments is the night divided, three or four? Moreover, why does Rabbi Eliezer employ such inexact parameters rather than a more precise definition of time?
מַאי קָסָבַר רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר? אִי קָסָבַר שָׁלֹשׁ מִשְׁמָרוֹת הָוֵי הַלַּיְלָה, לֵימָא ״עַד אַרְבַּע שָׁעוֹת״. וְאִי קָסָבַר אַרְבַּע מִשְׁמָרוֹת הָוֵי הַלַּיְלָה, לֵימָא ״עַד שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁעוֹת״!
What does Rabbi Eliezer actually hold? If he holds that the night consists of three watches, let him say explicitly that one recites the evening Shema until the fourth hour. If he holds that the night consists of four watches, let him say explicitly until the third hour.
לְעוֹלָם קָסָבַר שָׁלֹשׁ מִשְׁמָרוֹת הָוֵי הַלַּיְלָה, וְהָא קָמַשְׁמַע לָן: דְּאִיכָּא מִשְׁמָרוֹת בָּרָקִיעַ וְאִיכָּא מִשְׁמָרוֹת בְּאַרְעָא. דְּתַנְיָא, רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אוֹמֵר: שָׁלֹשׁ מִשְׁמָרוֹת הָוֵי הַלַּיְלָה, וְעַל כָּל מִשְׁמָר וּמִשְׁמָר יוֹשֵׁב הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא וְשׁוֹאֵג כָּאֲרִי, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״ה׳ מִמָּרוֹם יִשְׁאָג, וּמִמְּעוֹן קָדְשׁוֹ יִתֵּן קוֹלוֹ שָׁאֹג יִשְׁאַג עַל נָוֵהוּ״.
The Gemara responds: Actually, Rabbi Eliezer holds that the night consists of three watches, and he employs this particular language of watches in order to teach us: There are watches in heaven and there are watches on earth; just as our night is divided into watches, so too is the night in the upper worlds. As it was taught in a baraita:
Rabbi Eliezer says: The night consists of three watches, and over each and every watch, the Holy One, Blessed be He, sits and roars like a lion in pain over the destruction of the Temple. This imagery is derived from a reference in the Bible, as it is stated: “ The Lord roars [yishag] from on high, from His holy dwelling He makes His voice heard. He roars mightily [ shaog yishag ] over His dwelling place, He cries out like those who tread grapes, against all the inhabitants of the earth” (Jeremiah 25:30). The three instances of the root shin-alef-gimmel in this verse correspond to the three watches of the night.
וְסִימָן לַדָּבָר: מִשְׁמָרָה רִאשׁוֹנָה חֲמוֹר נוֹעֵר, שְׁנִיָּה כְּלָבִים צוֹעֲקִים, שְׁלִישִׁית, תִּינוֹק יוֹנֵק מִשְּׁדֵי אִמּוֹ, וְאִשָּׁה מְסַפֶּרֶת עִם בַּעֲלָהּ.
And signs of the transition between each of these watches in the upper world can be sensed in this world: In the first watch, the donkey brays; in the second, dogs bark; and in the third people begin to rise, a baby nurses from its mother’s breast and a wife converses with her husband.
מַאי קָא חָשֵׁיב רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר, אִי תְּחִלַּת מִשְׁמָרוֹת קָא חָשֵׁיב — תְּחִלַּת מִשְׁמָרָה רִאשׁוֹנָה סִימָנָא לְמָה לִי? אוּרְתָּא הוּא! אִי סוֹף מִשְׁמָרוֹת קָא חָשֵׁיב, סוֹף מִשְׁמָרָה אַחֲרוֹנָה לְמָה לִי סִימָנָא? יְמָמָא הוּא!
With regard to these earthly manifestations of the three heavenly watches as established in the baraita, the Gemara asks: What did Rabbi Eliezer enumerate? If he enumerated the beginning of the watch, why do I need a sign for the beginning of the first watch? It is when evening begins; an additional sign is superfluous. If he enumerated the end of the watches, why do I need a sign for the end of the last watch? It is when day begins; an additional sign is similarly superfluous.
אֶלָּא: חָשֵׁיב סוֹף מִשְׁמָרָה רִאשׁוֹנָה, וּתְחִלַּת מִשְׁמָרָה אַחֲרוֹנָה, וְאֶמְצָעִית דְּאֶמְצָעִיתָא. וְאִיבָּעֵית אֵימָא: כּוּלְּהוּ סוֹף מִשְׁמָרוֹת קָא חָשֵׁיב, וְכִי תֵּימָא אַחֲרוֹנָה לָא צְרִיךְ.
The Gemara answers: Rather, he enumerated the signs for the end of the first watch and the beginning of the last watch, both of which require a sign, as well as the middle of the middle watch. And if you wish, say instead: He enumerated the ends of all of the watches. And if you say that a sign indicating the end of the final watch is unnecessary because it is day, nevertheless, that sign is useful.
לְמַאי נָפְקָא מִינַּהּ — לְמִיקְרֵי קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע לְמַאן דְּגָנֵי בְּבַיִת אָפֵל וְלָא יָדַע זְמַן קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע אֵימַת. כֵּיוָן דְּאִשָּׁה מְסַפֶּרֶת עִם בַּעֲלָהּ וְתִינוֹק יוֹנֵק מִשְּׁדֵי אִמּוֹ, לִיקוּם וְלִיקְרֵי.
What is the practical ramification of this sign? It is relevant to one who recites Shema while lying in a dark house, who cannot see the dawn and who does not know when the time for reciting Shema arrives. That person is provided with a sign that when a woman speaks with her husband and a baby nurses from its mother’s breast, the final watch of the night has ended and he must rise and recite Shema .
אָמַר רַב יִצְחָק בַּר שְׁמוּאֵל מִשְּׁמֵיהּ דְּרַב: שָׁלֹשׁ מִשְׁמָרוֹת הָוֵי הַלַּיְלָה, וְעַל כָּל מִשְׁמָר וּמִשְׁמָר יוֹשֵׁב הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא וְשׁוֹאֵג כַּאֲרִי, וְאוֹמֵר: ״אוֹי לִי שֶׁבַּעֲוֹנוֹתֵיהֶם הֶחֱרַבְתִּי אֶת בֵּיתִי וְשָׂרַפְתִּי אֶת הֵיכָלִי וְהִגְלִיתִים לְבֵין אוּמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם״.
Rav Yitzḥak bar Shmuel said in the name of Rav: The night consists of three watches, and over each and every watch the Holy One, Blessed be He sits and roars like a lion, because the Temple service was connected to the changing of these watches, and says: “ Woe to Me, that due to their sins I destroyed My house, burned My Temple and exiled them among the nations of the world. ”
תַּנְיָא, אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹסֵי: פַּעַם אַחַת הָיִיתִי מְהַלֵּךְ בַּדֶּרֶךְ וְנִכְנַסְתִּי לְחוּרְבָּה אַחַת מֵחוּרְבוֹת יְרוּשָׁלַיִם לְהִתְפַּלֵּל. בָּא אֵלִיָּהוּ זָכוּר לַטּוֹב וְשָׁמַר לִי עַל הַפֶּתַח, (וְהִמְתִּין לִי) עַד שֶׁסִּייַּמְתִּי תְּפִלָּתִי. לְאַחַר שֶׁסִּייַּמְתִּי תְּפִלָּתִי אָמַר לִי: ״שָׁלוֹם עָלֶיךָ, רַבִּי״. וְאָמַרְתִּי לוֹ: ״שָׁלוֹם עָלֶיךָ, רַבִּי וּמוֹרִי״. וְאָמַר לִי: בְּנִי, מִפְּנֵי מָה נִכְנַסְתָּ לְחוּרְבָּה זוֹ? אָמַרְתִּי לוֹ: לְהִתְפַּלֵּל. וְאָמַר לִי: הָיָה לְךָ לְהִתְפַּלֵּל בַּדֶּרֶךְ. וְאָמַרְתִּי לוֹ: מִתְיָרֵא הָיִיתִי שֶׁמָּא יַפְסִיקוּ בִּי עוֹבְרֵי דְּרָכִים, וְאָמַר לִי הָיָה לְךָ לְהִתְפַּלֵּל תְּפִלָּה קְצָרָה.
Incidental to the mention of the elevated significance of the night watches, the Gemara cites a related story: It was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yosei said: I was once walking along the road when I entered the ruins of an old, abandoned building among the ruins of Jerusalem in order to pray. I noticed that Elijah, of blessed memory, came and guarded the entrance for me and waited at the entrance until I finished my prayer. When I finished praying and exited the ruin, Elijah said to me, deferentially as one would address a Rabbi: Greetings to you, my Rabbi. I answered him: Greetings to you, my Rabbi, my teacher. And Elijah said to me: My son, why did you enter this ruin? I said to him: In order to pray. And Elijah said to me: You should have prayed on the road. And I said to him: I was unable to pray along the road, because I was afraid that I might be interrupted by travelers and would be unable to focus. Elijah said to me: You should have recited the abbreviated prayer instituted for just such circumstances.
בְּאוֹתָהּ שָׁעָה לָמַדְתִּי מִמֶּנּוּ שְׁלֹשָׁה דְּבָרִים: לָמַדְתִּי שֶׁאֵין נִכְנָסִין לְחוּרְבָּה, וְלָמַדְתִּי שֶׁמִּתְפַּלְּלִין בַּדֶּרֶךְ, וְלָמַדְתִּי שֶׁהַמִּתְפַּלֵּל בְּדֶרֶךְ מִתְפַּלֵּל תְּפִלָּה קְצָרָה.
Rabbi Yosei concluded: At that time, from that brief exchange, I learned from him, three things: I learned that one may not enter a ruin; and I learned that one need not enter a building to pray, but he may pray along the road; and I learned that one who prays along the road recites an abbreviated prayer so that he may maintain his focus.
וְאָמַר לִי: בְּנִי, מָה קוֹל שָׁמַעְתָּ בְּחוּרְבָּה זוֹ? וְאָמַרְתִּי לוֹ: שָׁמַעְתִּי בַּת קוֹל שֶׁמְּנַהֶמֶת כְּיוֹנָה וְאוֹמֶרֶת: ״אוֹי לְבָנִים שֶׁבַּעֲוֹנוֹתֵיהֶם הֶחֱרַבְתִּי אֶת בֵּיתִי וְשָׂרַפְתִּי אֶת הֵיכָלִי וְהִגְלִיתִים לְבֵין הָאוּמּוֹת״. וְאָמַר לִי: חַיֶּיךָ וְחַיֵּי רֹאשְׁךָ, לֹא שָׁעָה זוֹ בִּלְבַד אוֹמֶרֶת כָּךְ, אֶלָּא בְּכָל יוֹם וָיוֹם, שָׁלֹשׁ פְּעָמִים אוֹמֶרֶת כָּךְ. וְלֹא זוֹ בִּלְבַד אֶלָּא, בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁיִּשְׂרָאֵל נִכְנָסִין לְבָתֵּי כְּנֵסִיּוֹת וּלְבָתֵּי מִדְרָשׁוֹת וְעוֹנִין ״יְהֵא שְׁמֵיהּ הַגָּדוֹל מְבֹורָךְ״, הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא מְנַעְנֵעַ רֹאשׁוֹ, וְאוֹמֵר: אַשְׁרֵי הַמֶּלֶךְ שֶׁמְּקַלְּסִין אוֹתוֹ בְּבֵיתוֹ כָּךְ, מַה לּוֹ לָאָב שֶׁהִגְלָה אֶת בָּנָיו, וְאוֹי לָהֶם לַבָּנִים שֶׁגָּלוּ מֵעַל שׁוּלְחַן אֲבִיהֶם.
And after this introduction, Elijah said to me: What voice did you hear in that ruin?
I responded: I heard a Heavenly voice, like an echo of that roar of the Holy One, Blessed be He (Maharsha), cooing like a dove and say ing: Woe to the children, due to whose sins I destroyed My house, burned My Temple, and exiled them among the nations.
And Elijah said to me: By your life and by your head, not only did that voice cry out in that moment, but it cries out three times each and every day. Moreover, any time that God’s greatness is evoked, such as when Israel enters synagogues and study halls and answers in the kaddish prayer, May His great name be blessed, the Holy One, Blessed be He, shakes His head and says: Happy is the king who is thus praised in his house. When the Temple stood, this praise was recited there, but now: How great is the pain of the father who exiled his children, and woe to the children who were exiled from their father’s table, as their pain only adds to that of their father ( Rabbi Shem Tov ibn Shaprut ).
תָּנוּ רַבָּנָן, מִפְּנֵי שְׁלֹשָׁה דְּבָרִים אֵין נִכְנָסִין לְחוּרְבָּה: מִפְּנֵי חֲשָׁד, מִפְּנֵי הַמַּפּוֹלֶת, וּמִפְּנֵי הַמַּזִּיקִין. ״מִפְּנֵי חֲשָׁד״, וְתִיפּוֹק לֵיהּ ״מִשּׁוּם מַפּוֹלֶת״?
The Sages taught, for three reasons one may not enter a ruin: Because of suspicion of prostitution, because the ruin is liable to collapse, and because of demons. Three separate reasons seem extraneous, so the Gemara asks: Why was the reason because of suspicion necessary? Let this halakha be derived because of collapse.