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Shabbat Parashat Ki Tavo | 5768

When to say Kriat Shema Al Hamita when working a night shift

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Question: I work a night shift and, therefore, sleep in the day rather than at night. What do I do about saying Kri’at Shema Al Hamita (bedtime Shema) and Modeh Ani?

Answer: The gemara (Berachot 4b) instructs one who said Kri’at Shema at Ma’ariv to say it again before going to sleep. The gemara (ibid. 60b) mentions a beracha that is said at that time (Hamapil) and then lists berachot that are recited when one awakens, starting with Elokai Neshama and continuing with Birkot Hashachar to be recited as he goes through the activities of getting up and starting his day. Yet another gemara (Shvu’ot 15b) reports that R. Yehoshua ben Levi would say before bed certain psalms that are effective in warding off evil spirits.

Modeh Ani is not found in the gemara or in the Shulchan Aruch, Rama and the earliest commentators. It made its way into siddurim through a book called Seder Hayom, and the Mishna Berura (1:8) says: “It is good to say as soon as one gets up, Modeh Ani …” As it is a relatively recent minhag, not a binding halacha, it is not surprising that we find little halachic literature on Modeh Ani for those who sleep at unconventional times. However, the concept of (ending and) starting one’s day with holy thoughts is ancient and is at the heart of the aforementioned sources and others. In fact, we find the following thesis (presented in Piskei Teshuvot (1:(22)) to be very logical. The recitation of the non-beracha thanks to Hashem of Modeh Ani developed because in our times we do not allow people who have woken to say Elokai Neshama and Birkot Hashachar before washing hands, as they once did (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 46:2). It enables one to immediately convey Elokai Neshama’s basic idea of thanks for regaining full consciousness.

After that background, we can address your specific questions. Most poskim say that one may not recite the beracha of Hamapil before going to sleep in the daytime (Biur Halacha to OC 339:1; see B’tzel Hachochma V, 166). One of the possible reasons is that the beracha was instituted for sleeping at regular times. Likewise, one is not obligated to say Kri’at Shema (Ishei Yisrael 35, 12), as the halacha to do so before sleeping is apparently connected to the obligation of Kri’at Shema at night (see Aruch Hashulchan, OC 239:3). Some recommend to recite Viyhi Noam and Yoshev B’seter before daytime sleep (Rama, OC 231:1), of note for those who normally recite these protective sections of Kri’at Shema Al Hamita. These halachot apparently apply even if one goes to sleep in the day and wakes up and night (see B’tzel Hachochma, ibid.).

We assume that the logic that applies to Elokai Neshama applies also to Modeh Ani. One who awakens from any reasonable night sleep (presumably, even if he began during the day) recites Elokai Neshama (Mishna Berura 46:24), although he should wait if necessary until alot hashachar (dawn) (Mishna Berura 47:30). There is a minority opinion that one should say Elokai Neshama after any sizable sleep throughout the day (see Biur Halacha to OC 52:1; Ishei Yisrael 5:(43)). Some say that if one waits until the morning, then he can certainly say Elokai Neshama, as by then he has both slept and experienced a new morning. However, we do not suggest making the beracha under these circumstances, as many say that it was instituted for the normal type of sleep and awakening before a new day (see Ishei Yisrael, ibid.; B’tzel Hachochma V, 144). The big difference between Modeh Ani and Elokai Neshama is that the latter is a formal beracha which one may not recite when it is not called for, whereas the former is a praise that is not in beracha form. Therefore, while one is not expected to say Modeh Ani if he slept only during the daytime, he may say it either upon awakening or when the morning breaks if he so desires.

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