Shema Yisrael (orSh’ma Yisrael) (Hebrew:שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל; “Hear, [O] Israel”) are the first two words of a section of the Torah, and are the title (sometimes shortened to simply “Shema”) of a prayer that serves as a centerpiece of the morning and evening Jewish prayer services.
The first verse encapsulates the monotheistic essence of Judaism: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is one,” found in Deuteronomy 6:4.
Observant Jews consider the Shema to be the most important part of the prayer service in Judaism, and its twice-daily recitation as amitzvah (religious commandment). It is traditional for Jews to say the Shema as their last words, and for parents to teach their children to say it before they go to sleep at night.
The term “Shema” is used by extension to refer to the whole part of the daily prayers that commence with Shema Yisrael and comprise Deuteronomy 6:4–9,11:13-21, and Numbers 15:37–41.