The Shema Israel is a declaration of one’s faith in a single God and an affirmation of Judaism. A Jewish person has an obligation to say Shema twice a day, once in the morning and once in the evening. It is also said on certain holidays and at other times in the Jewish faith. In Orthodox circles, only men are required to recite the Shema as it is believed that women have familial obligations that are more important.
The first line of the Shema is from Deuteronomy 6:4 and says, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.” This is one of the most well-known rituals for the Jewish people and is also said as the final words before death and during the final Yom Kippur prayer. When reciting the Shema in Hebrew, many place a hand over their eyes.
The Meaning of the Shema
To fully understand the Shema, one must really get to know the meaning.
The first verse, the most essential part of the Shema, is a person’s declaration of their faith in Judaism. They affirm that the Lord is their only God. This is followed by different ways to live in the Jewish faith including the right way to live. This includes loving God with every part of the person reciting it, teaching it to their children, and the importance of reciting it in the morning and evening.
The second part of the Shema explains what happens if the commands of God are followed…or not. For example, it explains that the faithful, those who follow the teachings of God, will get abundance including grass for their cattle, rain during the growing season, bountiful crops, and plenty of oil and wine. Those who do not follow these demands will suffer.
The final part of the Shema explained the commandment of tzitzit, which are ritual fringes. These are a constant reminder of the presence of God in the lives of the Jewish people, and to further place importance on this, the majority of Orthodox men where the tzitzit at all times.
Because of the importance of the Shema, many of the Jewish faith like to display the first line in their homes or on their body in the form of jewelry. For instance, many Jewish homes have some type of display with the Shema seen on it, like a beautiful plaque. Plaques like this make a gorgeous addition to any Jewish household. Alternatively, giving the gift of the Shema on jewelry, such as a stunning silver, clay, and gold necklace is a perfect choice.