Inside Tefillin – Shema Yisrael – Always Speak About Torah
The first paragraph of The Shema Yisrael prayer says, “Vedibarta Bam – You should speak about them” (the words of Torah). Words of Torah are always deep and multi-faceted. The words of the Shema prayer are very much like this.
The pasuk says “Vedibarta Bam” The Talmud elaborates on this by saying; you should not speak about anything else other than words of Torah. The Ritva adds, don’t say ‘I have learned a lot of torah now I will learn something else.’ The Talmud continues, during [the silent Amida prayer] you should not speak [your prayers out loud.] Rabbi Achah adds that you should make them a constant part of your life, not just a temporary, fleeting connection. (Yoma 19b)
Rashi explains the above by saying that when you study you must say the words out loud. However, when you pray you must pray quietly )Rashi yoma 19b)
The above follows Rashi. However, Tosafot explain the Gemara differently. “Vedibarta Bam – Speak about them and not the prayer” means during the Shema prayer you may respond to someone out of fear, like a government official who might punish you severely for not addressing him. , However, during the Silent Prayer, one may not respond to anything not even if a king is standing near him or even if a snake is wrapped around his leg.
Midrash Agadah gives this an interesting twist, Vedibarta Bam means that while saying Shema you should say it loud so that others hear it that way everyone is speaking about G-d and the Torah together, however, during the silent prayer one is silent.
The Shema prayer continues after saying “you must speak about them”. It says, “When you sit in your home, and when you go on the road, and when you lay down, and you wake up.” All of this seems to explain to us what specifically is meant by “speaking about them” However, our rabbis OBM have told us that going to sleep and waking up refers to specific times of the day which one says the Shema prayer. The Shema Prayer that needs to be said when you “lay down” needs to be said when it is nighttime, even if you work at night and do not lay down to sleep. The Shema Prayer that needs to be said in the morning when you wake up needs to be said during the first quarter of daytime hours.