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248 words in a woman’s Shema?

Does a woman have to have 248 words in krieas shma?



Let’s first expound a little on the question. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 61:3) writes that there are 245 words in the Shema, and in order to make it up to 248, corresponding to the 248 limbs of a person, the Shliach Tzibbur repeats three words, Hashem Elokeichem Emess. The Remo”h adds that that if one is not saying Shema”h with a tzibbur, then one adds at the beginning three words, Kel Melech Ne’eman.

Although a man has 248 limbs/organs, the Gemora (Bechoros 45a) states that a woman has 252 limbs. In that case, perhaps there is no point in a woman adding the extra three words, because anyway it won’t add up to all the 252 limbs that she has.

This question was posed by SiachYitzchak (Siman 29). He notes, however, that the Remo”h doesn’t distinguish between male or female, but simply states that an individual should add Kel Melech Ne’eman, implying that a woman also does so. Also, in a Mi Shebeirach for a sick woman we mention rama”ch evareyha (although some Siddurim actually say for a woman Lekol evareyha). Tosefos in Sotah 27b (quoting a Yerushalmi) states that the word Me’or’rim (in the parsha of Sotah) has a gematria of 496, corresponding to his 248 limbs and her 248 limbs, although we know from the Gemora that a woman has 252 limbs. (The Aruch Hashulchan (E.H. 178:64) explains that in this context the extra four are not referred to because they are not metam’eh beohel, as the same Gemora in Bechoros states.)

Siach Yitzchak is inclined to rule that a woman should add in the extra three words, but he leaves it open.

The same question was posed to Minchas Elozor (II:28), and indeed from the text of the question it seems that the questioner was the aforementioned Siach Yitzchak. Michas Elozor concludes that a woman should say the extra three words, explaining that according to the Kabbalah the reference here is not to the individual’s 248 limbs but to a spiritual context, and a woman can also effect this Tikkun by saying Shema that has 248 words.

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