Shema Israel

Shema Israel (or the Shema for short) is a prayer that is to be recited at least twice daily and is made up of certain verses of scripture from Deuteronomy and Numbers.

It has a very long history and is easily the most well-known prayer of the Torah.

And is recited by men, women, and children across the globe every day.

 

The greatest commandment of all

In the first couple of lines of the Shema we read:

Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

You may notice that these two verses are the same verses that Yeshua told us are Elohim’s most important commandment: 

Mark 12:28-29
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.

Here Yeshua clearly highlights the importance of the words contained within these passages.

And all those hearing this would have instantly recognized them from their own daily recitation of the Shema.

 

Full immersion

The instruction to recite the words of the Shema daily comes from the first paragraph of the prayer itself:

Deuteronomy 6:7
You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

We see here that we are to repeat these words every day when we rise (get out of bed in the morning) and when we lie down (go to bed at night). As well as when sitting in our house and walking outside. 

When you really begin to take this command literally, a revelation begins to emerge: Elohim is demanding full immersion into His words on a daily basis. 

With that in mind, many of King David’s writings begin to make sense:

Psalm 1:2
But his delight is in the Torah] of the Lord, and on His Torah he meditates day and night.

Psalms 119:97
Oh, how I love your Torah! I meditate on it all day long.

I’m sure many would argue that this approach is going overboard and is not practical in today’s world.

But we see, based on what Elohim is telling us here in the Shema, that He clearly disagrees and that it is not only practical but it is necessary to do so.

 

How to recite the Shema

Many people recite the long version (Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Deuteronomy 11:13-21, Numbers 15:37-41) in the morning upon rising from bed which is as follows:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

“And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil. And he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you shall eat and be full. Take care lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them; then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain, and the land will yield no fruit, and you will perish quickly off the good land that the Lord is giving you.”

“You shall therefore lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.”

The Lord said to Moses, “Speak to the people of Israel, and tell them to make tzitzit on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a cord of blue on the tzitzit of each corner. And it shall be a tzitzit for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after. So you shall remember and do all my commandments, and be holy to your God. I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am the Lord your God.”

And at bedtime, it’s common to just recite only the first paragraph (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

I personally quote the entirety of the prayer only once per day in the morning and just the first paragraph at night in bed.

When reciting the Shema at other points during the day, I usually just say the first two verses or maybe the entire first paragraph depending on what’s going on around me.

Not surprisingly, over thousands of years, many have added other small additions to these verses. And some also have been taken away.

But I personally prefer just these three passages shown above.

And note that it’s perfectly fine to read these from your bible rather than reciting from memory.

But if repeating multiple times every day, it won’t be long before you have it memorized. 

Also, note that It is a tradition to cover your eyes when reciting the first line (Deuteronomy 6:4). 

The purpose of this practice is to really focus and internalize on the oneness of Elohim.

This practice, however, is just a tradition and is biblically not a requirement.

 

Conclusion

It’s clear from the commands within the Shema, it’s meant to keep Elohim’s words top of mind at all times.

Because so many other messages are being thrown at us each and every day (advertisements, the media, TV, false teachers). 

So whether we realize it or not the world is working overtime to convert us over to its ideas and practices.

But by immersing ourselves fully into Elohim’s words, we keep His commands front and center in our lives. Which helps guard our hearts and minds against the wayward teachings of the world.

About Brandon G.

I've been studying Torah for about 15 years. I believe as Elohim continues to pour out His spirit that more and more believers will begin seeking to follow Torah. I started this blog to help those people learn the pure commands of Elohim apart from the traditions that many others have mixed in.
View all posts by Brandon G. →

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