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Shema Yisrael: What is the Meaning Behind the Famous Jewish Prayer?

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In the year 1945 a rabbi named Eliezer Silver was sent to Europe. His purpose was to help gather and collect any Jewish children that were hidden during the Holocaust. Typically, most of these children were hidden by being placed with non-Jewish families. Naturally, the biggest question that people ask when they hear this story is how was he able to find the Jewish children and separate them from the group? He would find groups of children and he would loudly shout the shema prayer. “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.” Unsurprisingly, the Jewish children would recognize the shema prayer and understand the shema yisrael meaning.

Jews praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur. (...

Jews praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur. (1878 painting by Maurycy Gottlieb) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once he finished saying the prayer he would look around at the faces of the children. He could easily recognize the Jewish children because their eyes would slowly begin to fill with tears. This is because memories of being Jewish and hearing their mothers reciting the shema prayer to them as they were putting them to bed would come rushing back into their minds.

“Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One,” The Shema Yisrael prayer is possibly the most famous of all of the Jewish quotes. This is because it is how one expresses their declaration to faith. It is also how they pledge their allegiance to a single God. This is a prayer that is the last thing that anyone of Jewish origin says before going to bed and the first thing that they say when they wake up in the morning. It is also said when someone is praising God or when they are seeking is guidance or protection. Furthermore, it is the very first prayer that Jewish children are taught. This is why mothers will say the shema prayer to their child every night before they go to bed.

The Talmud also states that when Jacob was prepared to tell his children that he was about to reach the end of his says he feared that one of his children might be a non-believer. His children were able to reassure and amend his fears by immediately crying out the shema prayer. Torah records also indicate that Moses include the shema prayer when he said farewell to all of the Jewish people.

This is a prayer that Jewish individuals cite before the read the Torah on Sabbaths or during festivals. They also recite the prayer at the end of Yom Kippur which is considered by the Jewish community to be the holiest day as it is when they reach the level of angels.

Over the years the shema yisrael meaning has always been the ultimate demonstration of faith. Even in the gravest of situations individuals would cry out this prayer to demonstrate and symbolize just how faithful they were. For example, when Jewish individuals were in the Nazi chambers the very last words they would speak would be the shema prayer.

Shema Israel - ??? ?????

Shema Israel (Photo credit: yanivba)

Jewish individuals are commanded to say the shema prayer twice a day. In the morning when they awake and at night before they go to sleep. This is a requirement that is derived from the Talmud. The verse that it is derived from states the following: “And you should speak about them when you… lie down and when you get up” (Deut. 6:7). It is important to note that the verse from Talmund is not actually referring to the position of an individual’s body. It is referring to the time of day at which the prayer should be recited. In technical terms, the prayer should be recited approximately 40 minutes after the sun has set and at approximately 8 in the morning the day. The entire shema prayer is actually three full paragraphs take from Torah.

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