One of the most important prayers in Judaism is The Shema, which features in this week’s Torah reading. Yet, according to Rabbi Sacks, the Shema is more of a declaration of faith, than a prayer. Its words are immensely powerful and well known to many Jews whether they be observant or not. They are learnt at an early age in the home and are likely to be uttered at the end of life. They also express three key teachings of Judaism, the belief in the One God; faith is not just a belief, it permeates all through our lives; and that family is a strong incubator for future generations, providing opportunities for learning and encountering their heritage in the home as well as beyond.
The words of the Shema are also part of the took-kit for those providing pastoral care, as well as providing strength and comfort. That is why we say them both when we arise every morning, and when we go to sleep at night. And in these words, we can also find reference to the Ten Commandments, which is also featured in this week’s Torah reading. Thus, by teaching our children the Shema, we can provide them with a strong feeling of faith, identity and spiritual sustainability, wherever life takes them.