Girl saying Shema before going to sleep with the words in Hebrew above her

Introduction to Kriyat Shema al Ha’Mita

Introduction to Kriyat Shema al Ha’Mita

Emor Project
June 7, 2023

What happens to our souls while we sleep?


The sages teach that the soul is rejuvenated by sleep as it returns to its Source during this time, connecting to HKBH.


When we sleep, the soul is judged for the day’s deeds, and is given instructions for its spiritual avodah (work) for the next day along with the kochot (powers, ability) to accomplish its tasks. The soul returns to the body on a higher spiritual level in the morning. Thus each day presents us with a new opportunity to achieve greater heights in our avodat Hashem.


Before retiring, one should say a special prayer called Kriyat Shema al Ha’Mita (Bedtime Shema). We ask for protection while we sleep (as sleep is 1/60th of death) and that we wake up healthy and well to serve HKBH another day. In addition, in these prayers, we forgive others who may have harmed us and ask Hashem to forgive us for any wrongdoings we have committed. In essence, we take a mini cheshbon hanefesh each night, a spiritual stocktaking, cleaning our slate and allowing us to start the next day on a higher level.


This pre-sleep prayer service ensures that if we go to sleep in a proper manner, with words of Torah on our lips and having done our spiritual work to clean our slate, we will wake up in a fitting way, with the energy to live a productive day both physically and spiritually.