The Shema –Tzitzit, Mezuzah and Tefillin
Click the link above and listen to the Shema being sung as you read the translation.
The Shema is an affirmation of Judaism and a declaration of faith in one God. The obligation to recite the Shema is separate from the obligation to pray and a Jew is obligated to say Shema in the morning and at night (Deut. 6:7).
When a person is praying alone, he begins the Shema with the phrase “God, Faithful King” (El melekh ne’eman) to bring the number of words in the Shema up to 248, the number of parts in the human body. This indicates that the worshiper dedicates his or her whole body to serving God.
This section consists of an affirmation of belief in God’s unity and in His sovereignty over the world, an unconditional love of God, and a commitment to the study of His teachings. It emphasizes the religious duties to love God, to teach Torah to one’s children, to talk of Torah at every possible time, to put on tefillin, and to place mezuzah on the doorpost of one’s home.
The Complete Text
It shall be, that if you obey My commandments that I command you this day to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all Your heart and with all your soul, then will I send the rain for your land in its season, the early [autumn] rain and the late [spring] rain, and you will gather in your grain, your wine, and your oil. And I will provide grass in your field for your cattle, and you shall eat and be sated. Be careful that your heart be not tempted and you turn away to serve other gods and bow to them. For then God will be furious with you and will block the heavens and there will be no rain and the land will not yield its produce, and you will perish quickly from the good land that God gives you. Take these My words to your hearts and to your souls, and bind them for a sign on your hands and for frontlets between your eyes. Teach them to your children: to speak them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road, when you lie down and when you rise up. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. So that your days and the days of your children may be prolonged upon the land, which God swore to give to your forefathers, as the days of the heavens [are prolonged] upon the earth.
Wearing and Using Tzitzit
The Mezuzah holds the Shema and is placed on the doorpost in accordance with G*d’s direction. They serve as a reminder of God’s presence and His law, and set the tone for behaviour that is expected as one enters and leaves the home. They are typically removed from the doorposts when the house is sold.
Click on the mezuzah to see how the ritual associated with how it is affixed to the doorpost.
As we saw in the Shema, it is commanded that the words are bound to the body. Click on the tefillin below and watch the 3 minute YouTube explanation of how and why they are worn.
In dot points, note the reasons for wearing the tefillin and also the key points of how to wear it.
|Reasons for Wearing Tefillin||How is it worn?|
|How is a Tefillin made?|
When any part of the Torah is transcribed it must be perfect. The act of scribing a Torah scroll is a prayer and must be done with full concentration.
You will be given a piece of good paper and must copy the Shema translation on page one with no errors. Make it a meditation and blessing; a moment of total concentration and openness to the creative spirit in your life.
Some music which might help you focus is included here.
Once you have completed your copy of the Shema you will place it in a specially made container which you will decorate with at least one of the 72 names of god which can be found in the last link above. This will then be taken home and placed somewhere that you will see daily; a dressing table or shelf. Allow your thoughts to turn to whatever you understand G*d to be and in that moment, say a prayer for the Jewish people who continue to live out their covenant with Abraham and Moses.