This is the first in a series intended to guide you step by step toward increased knowledge and observance of God’s command concerning the Shema, as found in the Torah and as systematized by the Divinely ordained Court of ancient Israel.
The following information is for those who, having already embraced our Creator’s everlasting Guidance through Moses, the first and final prophet of immutable Divine Law, are now ready to take the next step; so take notes! We are called to live a faith of action.
FIRST STEP IN SHEMA RECITATION – Establishing The Habit:
Though both men and women are equally obligated to embrace and proclaim our Maker’s singular sovereignty in the world, only males are obligated to do so in the specific format of the “Shema;” nonetheless, it is praiseworthy and customary for women to do so as well, if it does not prevent them from fulfilling their own unique duties. The Shema, our daily proclamation and acceptance of the Almighty’s absolute universal authority, consists of reciting Deuteronomy 6:4–9, 11:13-21, and Numbers 15:37–41. If you don’t know Hebrew, you can fulfill this obligation even by reciting the Biblical passages in English. If you can read Hebrew but don’t understand the words, we advise you to read the Shema in English in the morning, and in Hebrew at night. Once you have begun to understand the meanings of the words in the Hebrew, only then do we recommend you recite Shema exclusively in Hebrew.
These selections are to be said early in the morning and any time at night after the appearance of 3 medium sized stars. After becoming habituated to daily recitation of these Biblical passages, which need not take more than a month or so, continue then with step two regarding the Shema, to be given more information; but for now, begin making a habit of reciting only these selections of Torah every morning and every night. If reciting all three selections takes up too much of your time, then start out by making it a habit to recite at least Deuteronomy 6:4-9 every morning and night. However, if you’re serious about serving God, then seriously – where there’s a will, there’s a way. Sacrifice just 5 or 6 mins of your regular TV watching and read these passages instead. If TV’s not the challenge, then record yourself reading these passages and play it while you’re driving or while you’re preparing dinner. Nothing holds back a willing heart. Take one step towards God, and He’ll take two ‘steps’ nearer to you.
R’ Yosef Eliyah