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Home -- Content: Series 7 (Laws) -- Translation: English -- Book: 1 (Tora) -- Part: 1 (Positive) -- Command: 10 -- Text
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The Sharia of Moses in the TORA
Part 1 - The 248 Positive Commandments of the Tora

10 - READING THE SHEMA


The Shema is the Jewish confession of faith which begins, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” The complete Shema is found in three passages from the Old Testament: Deuteronomy 6: 4- 9; Deuteronomy 11: 13- 21 and Numbers 15: 37-41.

Deuteronomy 6:4-9 -- 4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
Deuteronomy11:13-21 -- 13 “And it shall be that if you earnestly obey my commandments which I command you today, to love the LORD your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil. 15 And I will send grass in your fields for your livestock, that you may eat and be filled.’ 16 Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other gods and worship them, 17 lest the LORD’s anger be aroused against you, and He shut up the heavens so that there be no rain, and the land yield no produce, and you perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you. 18 Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 20 And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.”
Numbers 15:37-41 -- 37 “Again the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 38 ‘Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. 39 And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the LORD and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, 40 and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God. 41 I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the LORD your God.’”
Deuteronomy 6:7 -- “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”

In the Mishnah and Midrashim the reading of the Shema is designated kabbalath ‘ol malkhuth shamayim, “the taking on oneself of the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven.”

For Maimonides the Shema, read with a full attention and devotion, was a step to perfection: “I will now commence to show you the way to educate and train yourselves in order to attain that great perfection. The first thing you must do is this: Turn your thoughts away from everything while you read the Shema or during the Tefillah (prayer), and do not content yourself with being devout when you read the first verse of the Shema, or the first paragraph of the prayer.”*

* Moreh Nebuchim, III, 51

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