The “Shema Israel” (“hear Israel”) has been for many generations one of the great spiritual symbols of the Jewish people.
The verse in which the prayer is mentioned by Jacob is perceived in Judaism as the most basic declaration of faith, therefore the Mitzvah of praying Shema is one of the most basic in Judaism and is a statement of faith in the singularity, love, worship and complete faith in God.
The Shema is actually part of a dialogue between Jacob and his sons. “Israel” is another name for Jacob. His sons declare before him “Hear Israel (=Jacob), the Lord our God, the Lord is one,” to which Jacob responds in a reverent whisper “blessed is His Honourable Majesty forever.”
Kabbalistic reading of this prayer reveals magic, depth and additional meaning:
– Live in the moment in unity, here and now.
– Remember the experience is single and complete everywhere.
– Live life as though it is one long act of love with existence and the universe.
Any person in need of an appeal to the Heavens in time of hardship or happiness should be familiar with the Shema, which is a password to open Heaven’s gates for a Jew in distress and symbolises the link between God and man.
The Shema emphasises the continuity of faith linking one generation to the next and to God.