I know that a Jew is to say the Shema prayer twice a day - in the morning and in the evening. But I recently saw mentioned that it is said a third time, at bedtime. What's this all about?
The Aish Rabbi Replies:
"Kriat Shema al hamita" is the bedtime prayer we say, which includes the first paragraph of the Shema, as well as the blessing "HaMapil."
The Talmud says that when one goes to sleep at night, his soul goes up to heaven for a daily accounting. That leaves the body "unprotected," so to speak, so we say the Shema and the blessing Hamapil to counteract that.
Another purpose of the bedtime Shema is so that one should fall asleep while saying words of Torah.
Here is the text of "HaMapil":
"Blessed are You, Lord, our God, King of the universe, Who casts the bonds of sleep upon my eyes and slumber upon my eyelids. May it be Your will, Lord, my God and the God of my forefathers, that You lay me down to sleep in peace and raise me erect in peace. May my ideas, bad dreams, and bad notions not confound me; may my offspring be perfect before You, and may You illuminate my eyes lest I die in sleep, for it is You Who illuminates the pupil of the eye. Blessed are You, God, Who illuminates the entire world with His glory."