Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Reciting The Bedtime Shema

Excerpt from The Power of Everyday Mitzvot:

The Ari zal states that by reciting the Bedtime Shema before we go to sleep, we have the power to nullify and kill "1125 destroyers," or harmful spiritual forces. Everyone wants to be protected from any sort of mishap, and our holy books clearly tell us how to prevent such things. However, because of our ingrained "commonsense" way of thinking, sometimes we become our own worst enemy. We worry about what practical measures to take in order to be protected from accidents, while overlooking the mitzvot that are vital to our well being.

The education we provide our children must stress the importance of the Bedtime Shema. To recite the entire Shema takes only a few minutes, but we must view this practice seriously, recognizing its power and strength. The Bedtime Shema not only guards us, but it protects the entire world. The Ari zal wants to strengthen our appreciation of what we are doing when we recite the Shema. Imagine what it would mean for the level of good in the world, if every Jew would eliminate 1125 destructive spiritual forces each night through saying the Bedtime Shema!

Rebbe Nachman elaborates on an additional point about the Shema. When a person says the first two verses: "Shema Yisrael…" and "Baruch Shem…" he separates his soul from any admixture of unholiness. In their source, the souls of the Jewish people are "carved out from beneath the Heavenly Throne." There, they enjoy indescribable delight. Thus, it is no simple matter for the soul to agree to descend into this world and become entangled in impurity.

Excerpt from The Path of the Baal Shem Tov:

The Baal Shem Tov taught that before sleep one should recite the words, "Havadai sh'mo, kein tehilaso - His name is Certainty; such is His praise, " from the Mussaf prayer service of Rosh Hashana. This will destroy all forces of unholiness that might seek to harm one during sleep.


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