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Lay us down to sleep in peace, Adonai our God, and raise us up, our King, to life; spread over us the shelter of Your peace. Guide us with Your good counsel, and save us for the sake of Your Name. Shield us from foe, plague, sword, famine and anguish. Remove wrongdoing from before us and behind us, and shelter us in the shadow of Your wings. For it is You, O God, Who protects and rescues us; it is You, O God, Who are our gracious and compassionate King. Safeguard our coming and our going, to life and to peace from now to eternity.

Blessed are You, Adonai, Who spreads a shelter of peace over us, over all Your people Israel, and over Jerusalem.


This is a fourth prayer surrounding the Shema. It is recited first in the synagogue and then at home as a bedtime prayer. Unlike the other three prayers surrounding the Shema, the Hashkiveinu prayer has no equivalent in the morning service.

Some scholars have interpreted the Hashkiveinu prayer as an extension of the previous redemption prayer. There God redeemed us from slavery; here we ask God’s protection from the terrors of night “in the shadow of Your wings”—i.e., like the shelter that a mother bird gives to her young{Psalm 91:4—“You will cover us with Your pinions, and under Your wings shall we take refuge.”}.

It is difficult for us citizens of an electrified world to imagine how frightening the night must have been to our ancestors. For them it was a time of vulnerability to wild beasts, to plague (recall the “Angel of Death” spreading disease among the Egyptians during the night), and to enemy attacks. 

Sukkat shalom, by contrast, means “sukkah of peace”—referring to the shelters with which God protected the Israelites during their forty-year sojourn in the desert (and which we commemorate each year during the festival of Sukkot).


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