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Kriyat shema


Rabbi David Sperling

Shevat 19, 5780
Shalom Rav, Firsts We really appreciate your time and concern in answering our questions patiently. My question is that we learn to say that the mitzvah from torah is to say shema is from pasuk Deuteronomy 6:7 (talk of them ) דיברת בם . We say it kriyat shema (קריאת שמע). Why don’t we call it dibur shema why we call it kriyat shema. What is difference between the words קריא and דיבור according to Judaism ( not according to English semantics). Thank you Rav in advanced.
Shalom, Thank you for your question. The word “kriah” in modern hebrew means to read from a text, as opposed to “dibur”, which means to say aloud. One certainly does not need to “read” the shema from a text (and until modern printing provided people with a printed siddur, nearly all the Jews for filled the mitzvah by “saying” the shema, and not reading it). But the word “kriah” has other meanings in hebrew. For example it also means to call to someone - “l'kroh l'adam”. Additionally it can mean to publicize something. For example, in Berashit 21, 33, we read of Avraham who planted an Eshel in Be'er Sheva and “karah” in the name of G-d. The word here means to publicize and call out the name of Hashem. (The Rabbis explain that Avraham would encourage his guests to praise Hashem for the food he gave them). The Aramaic translations there translate the word as “to declare” or “to pray”. Both those translations would be applicable to “kriat shema” - to “declare and publicize” the shema, or to “pray” the shema. Rashi explains (on the verse you quoted) “AND THOU SHALT SPEAK OF THEM – i.e. that your principal topic of conversation should be only about them: make them the principal, and do not make them of secondary importance (Sifrei Devarim 34:6).” Accordingly, the mitzvah would not be just to “say” the Shema, but rather to “stress” the Shema – or, not just to “dibare” shema, but rather to “koreh” shema, declare it, stress it, publicize it. I hope this is of some help. Blessings.
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