אַאַמוּ"ר אָמַר: קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע שֶׁעַל הַמִּטָּה אִיז, אִין זְעֵיר אַנְפִּין, וִוי דעֶר וִוידּוּי וואָס קוֹדֶם צֵאת הַנֶּפֶשׁ מֵהַגּוּף. נאָר יעֶמאָלט גֵייט מעֶן שׁוֹין אִינגאַנצעֶן אַוועֶק פוּן יְרִיד, אוּן עֶס עֶנדִיגט זִיך שׁוֹין דעֶר מִסְחָר פוּן הַיּוֹם לַעֲשׂוֹתָם, אוּן אִין קְרִיאַת שְׁמַע שֶׁעַל הַמִּטָּה פוּן יעֶדעֶר נאַכט האַלט מעֶן נאָך אִין מִיטן יְרִיד, אוּן מעֶן קעֶן נאָך אוֹיפטאָן.

My revered father, [the Rebbe Rashab,] once said: The recitation of the Shema before retiring at night is a miniature version of the confession a person makes before his soul departs from his body. At that time, however, one leaves the fair1 forever; that puts an end to the transactions that can be undertaken “today, [which is the time] to perform them.”2 When we recite the Shema before retiring every night, we are still in the midst of the fair — we can still achieve something.3

Probing Beneath the Surface

The Rebbe Rashab is stressing here just how honest our nightly reckoning must be.4 As with the confession we will make at end of our lives, this stocktaking must be done seriously, with full cognizance that our lives are significant, and that we have been allotted a limited budget of time to accomplish our purpose. We seek to ensure that we are not wasting our resources, nor investing our time and efforts in activities that produce little or no profit.

Indeed, one of the first signs of maturity is the ability to stand back on a daily basis and judge our own conduct.