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  • Gabriella Kahen

The Significance of Reciting Shema

The Torah instructs us to read Shema every day and every night, as it says:"״ובשכבך ובמקומך or “when you lie down and when you get up.” Why do we do this? Why specifically in the morning and at night?

The prayer of Shema consists of 3 distinct parts: accepting that Hashem is our God, the rewards we receive for following the mitzvot, and the punishments for not following Hashem’s commands. Reading it twice throughout the day, we are reminded of Torah values and to do as Hashem says.

In 1945, Rabbi Eliezer Silver was sent to Europe to help find and return Jewish children who had been in hiding during the Holocaust with non-Jewish families. How was he able to discover these Jewish children when some of them didn't even know they were Jewish?! He would go to gatherings of children and loudly recite Shema Yisrael. Then, he would look at the faces of the children with tears in their eyes. Most Jewish children had vivid memories of their mothers reciting Shema to them before putting them to sleep and hearing Rabbi Eliezer simply reminded them of that. This shows what a major role Shema plays in one’s life, especially for children. It is the one thing almost every Jew is familiar with.

Valuable lessons such as being kind to others, doing business fairly, and keeping Hashem’s mitzvot are kept in mind when saying Shema daily. The recitation of Shema, when said carefully and lovingly with the correct pronunciation, serves to reemphasize Hashem’s presence in our lives and in the world.

Hopefully, reading this has inspired you to recite Shema every morning and night, and if you already do, now you know how important it is!

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