The Shema is probably the most famous part of our daily prayers. The prayer consists of three paragraphs: the first two paragraphs are from Deuteronomy, the first from the sixth chapter and the second from the eleventh chapter. (The third paragraph, that talks about the mitzvah of tzitzit and the Exodus from Egypt, is from the fifteenth chapter of Numbers.)

Shema is a fundamental prayer – the only part of the daily prayers, in fact, whose recitation is biblically mandatory – because it contains many fundamentals of our religion, such as belief in G‑d's unity and the precepts of love and awe for G‑d. A number of the more well-known mitzvot such as tefillin and mezuzah are also mentioned, as is the commandment to study Torah and teach it to our children. In fact these mitzvot are so important that they are mentioned in both the first and second paragraphs of the Shema. However there is a seemingly superficial difference.

"It is an unequivocal duty on every individual to set aside a half-hour each day to think about their children's education..."In the first paragraph we are told: "teach [words of Torah] to your children" and then we are told: "bind them... upon your arm"; while in the second paragraph we are instructed: "bind them... upon your arm" and only then are we told: "teach them to your children." What is the significance behind this change in wording?

The mitzvah of educating our children in the ways of the Torah begins as soon as they are born, well before they are obligated to put on tefillin. The command to offer our First Fruits to G‑d, the mitzvah of the bikkurim, is allegorically taken to refer to ensuring that during the early years of childhood a youngster devotes his "First Fruit" to G‑d—through receiving a thorough Torah education.

However the Torah does not stop there. While the first paragraph of Shema puts the education before the tefillin, the second paragraph mentions education after tefillin. The moral? Even after children reach maturity, even after their Bar/Bat Mitzvah, it is still the parents' responsibility to teach them Torah.

Rabbi Sholom DovBer of Lubavitch once said: "Just as it is incumbent on every Jew to put on tefillin every day, so too it is an unequivocal duty on every individual, from the greatest scholar to the most simple of folk, to set aside a half-hour each day in which to think about the education of their children."1