The Complete Yoke of Heaven

Daf 14. Summary. Do the rules governing interruptions during recital of Shema apply to recitation of hallel and the reading of the Megilla? May one who is fasting taste food he is cooking for others? Is greeting someone in the morning before reciting the morning blessings “as if he built an altar for idol worship”? Which prayers must be included in the evening? Is the one who digs a grave exempt from reciting Shema?

Ulla said “Anyone who recites Shema without tefillin, it is as if he has borne false testimony against himself.”

Comment. Seemingly unrelated acts such as a fasting person tasting food and one who greets another before reciting his morning prayers are in fact united in upsetting the order of things by taking on obligations before accepting “the complete yoke of heaven.” Some of these acts are permitted, some are probably forbidden, and some are definitely forbidden. Is it lenient rabbinic interpretation to permit acts that are unavoidable, tolerate acts to avoid appearing disrespectful to others, and prohibit all others that precede taking on the “yoke”?

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One Response to The Complete Yoke of Heaven

  1. charleshollander says:

    I was struck by the deference shown by the Bavli toward Palestine in the remark of Abaye: “Therefore we [in Babylon] begin [the section], because they begin it in the West.” (14b)

    Also, I assume that when Ulla said reciting the Shema’ without tefillin is like bearing false witness, he means only the morning Shema’. If so, then why is there nothing blasphemous about saying it in the evening, without tefillin?

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