Contact Us

The Shema

The Shema

The Daily Declaration of Faith

 Email

Shema Yisrael (“Hear, O Israel”) are the first two words of a section of the Torah that is the centerpiece of the morning and evening prayer services, encapsulating the monotheistic essence of Judaism:

“Hear, O Israel: G‑d is our L‑rd, G‑d is one.”

In its entirety, the Shema consists of three paragraphs: Deuteronomy 6:4–9, Deuteronomy 11:13–21 and Numbers 15:37–41.

Its recitation twice daily (morning and evening) is a biblical commandment. In addition, we recite it just before retiring for the night, as well as in the Kedushah service on Shabbat.

Indeed, this succinct statement has become so central to the Jewish people that it is the climax of the final Ne’ilah prayer of Yom Kippur, and is traditionally a Jew’s last words on earth.

Join the Discussion
Sort By:
20 Comments
1000 characters remaining
Michael Lansdale, PA October 30, 2017

The Shema is our strongest statement of one G-d. Mi Cha Mocha refers "among all the other G-ds that are worshipped". This has confused me. Does this have to do with Monotheism and Monolarity Reply

Simcha Bart for Chabad.org November 3, 2017
in response to Michael:

Actually, Rashi foremost Torah commentator translates Mi Camocha Ba'elim, as "Who is like You among the powerful", Ba'elim thus meaning "powerful ones" - not gods. He finds support for this translation from Ezek. 17:13 as well as other sources. Please see this here - you can click on Show under the words Rashi's Commentary to see this there on verse 11. Reply

Anonymous Bellmore,N.Y. June 22, 2017

Is the biblical commandment of saying Shema 3 times a day just the first verse or all three paragraphs? Very confused on this . Thanks . Reply

Rabbi Yossi Grossbaum, for Chabad.org Folsom, CA June 25, 2017
in response to Anonymous:

There are various opinions with regards to which sections constitute the actual biblical commandment; either the first verse alone or the first chapter, or the first two chapters. Whatever the case, all opinions agree that the practical obligation, as defined by the sages, includes all three chapters. Reply

Joseph Stahl Teague, Texas April 6, 2017

I am reading that we are to recite the Shema prayer twice daily. Noticing that the article says "In addition" we are to say it before going to bed. Does this mean 3 times total? Thank you. Reply

Simcha Bart for Chabad.org April 19, 2017
in response to Joseph Stahl:

Yes, that is correct. Reply

Pearl Brooklyn March 30, 2017

Shema When a person dies do you cover your eyes when you say the shema. Thank you Reply

Eliezer Zalmanov for Chabad.org March 30, 2017
in response to Pearl:

It is not necessary. Reply

Uri Yitzchak January 26, 2017

G-d is an absolute Oneness. To compound His Oneness is not a Jewish idea but Christian and therefore is idolatry Reply

BRADLEY A HOFFMAN MECHANICSBURG August 3, 2017
in response to Uri Yitzchak:

Well said - or shall I say well written! Thank you! Reply

rc torzilli brewster November 21, 2017
in response to BRADLEY A HOFFMAN:

Idolatry? Uri, are you trying to complicate things? I say this as I need a further explanation of what you're trying to get across with your 'Idolatry' comment.
I was taught by a very wise person that 'G-d is simplicity'. Our heavenly Father will never complicate 'things' for his children . And only Man can add complexities. The world was perfect, then Man put his two cents in, and it all became quite complicated. Reply

Nate none January 18, 2017

If you look at the Hebrew the word for One used in the Shema is Echad, not Yachid. They are both words used for one. Yachid is 0 1 2 2 3, being the numerical number. But Echad is to quote, "a compound oneness." Echad is used in the Shema. To understand Echad's usage in the scriptures look at its first use. Genesis 1:5B "so there was evening and morning on the first day." There was both evening and morning in One Echad. God is one but a compound one. Reply

Hannah Golden London December 28, 2016

The information here really helped me with my research about shema Reply

Samuel Ghana August 21, 2016

Great to know I realy like this and I will like to know more Reply

Rasheed M. U.S.A. July 20, 2016

I can see no difference from what you believe and what I believe concerning the One True G-d. Although I am not Christian or Jewish, and I could never be Christian because it trinitarian but Judaism seems more in line with true Monotheism. Thank you. Reply

nate USA March 31, 2017
in response to Rasheed M.:

Rasheed, I've greatly struggled with this as well. "How ignorant of Christians to claim that God is more than one entity," I've thought to myself. Have you prayed to the living God about this? Have you searched the Torah and Psalms and if you agree the Prophets such as Isiah? I hope your doubts push you towards God and towards searching for truth, instead of leading you toward bitterness and a closed mind.

Much love,
Nate Reply

Robert C. Torzilli Brewster June 6, 2017
in response to nate:

Don't knock what you clearly do not understand. Open-mindedness is a virtuous trait. Reply

Tanja Jerusalem November 18, 2017
in response to nate:

Thanks Nate, my thoughts are similar to yours. Reply

John Az July 12, 2016

Cover eyes Thanks for the information I did not know that and I always wondered why Reply

Esther Herat St John's March 26, 2016

Thank you from the very core of my heart. Reply

Related Topics