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Shema Yisrael

Shema Yisrael (or Sh'ma Yisroel or just Shema, meaning "Hear, [O] Israel") are the first two words of a section of the Torah that is used as a centrepiece of all morning and evening Jewish prayer services and closely echoes the monotheistic message of Judaism. It is considered the most important prayer in Judaism, and its twice-daily recitation is a mitzvah.

Its main content is loving the one and only God with all one's heart, soul and might, and the rewards that come with this. Conversely, it also includes an admonishment concerning failing to heed the commandments of God lest we arouse the wrath of God.

The term "Shema" is used by extension to the whole part of the daily prayers that commences with Shema Yisrael and comprises Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Deuteronomy 11:13-21, and Numbers 15:37-41. Originally, the Shema consisted only of one verse: Deuteronomy 6:4. The recitation of the Shema in the liturgy, however, consists of three portions: Deuteronomy 6:4-9, 11:13-21, and Numbers 15:37-41. These three portions relate to central issues of Jewish belief.

Additionally, the Talmud points out that subtle references to the Ten Commandments can be found in the three portions. As the Ten Commandments were removed from daily prayer in the Mishnaic period (circa 200 CE), the Shema is seen as an opportunity to commemorate the Ten Commandments.

The Hebrew text of the first two paragraphs of the Shema is written on a mezuzah.