Haham Eliezer Papo, Sarajevo (Ottoman Turkish Empire) 5545 / 1785
mitsvah of reciting the "Shema" is a central one. It includes
our acceptance of the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven and the yoke of
must concentrate at least on the first verse of the "Shema"
to fulfill this mitsvah. You must have the intention of accepting
God as your Master, believe in His absolute unity in Heaven, on earth,
and in the four directions of the universe, and be ready to sacrifice
your life for the sanctification of His Name. Of course, it is best
to maintain perfect concentration throughout the "Shema",
and not only while reciting the first verse.
Kabbalists taught that if you concentrate properly on the "Shema",
you will also be able to concentrate properly on the Amidah prayer.
This is the meaning of the maxim that whoever reads the "Shema"
is spared from destructive forces. These forces confuse a person during
his prayers. By reciting the "Shema" properly, you push
those forces away.
Shulhan Arukh rules that one should read the "Shema" with
fear, awe and trembling (Orah Hayyim 6 1: 1). How can you attain this
level? By imagining that you are standing in the Presence of the great
and awesome King.
our practice is to recite the "Shema" during the evening
service prior to the appearance of the stars, we fulfill our obligation
of reciting the evening "Shema" when we say it again before
going to bed. You must therefore be very careful not to go to sleep
without having done so.
lazy people sleep past the time of the morning "Shema";
a God-fearing person will recite it early in the morning.
each letter of the "Shema" correctly. This requires care
and practice. Also, "Shema" is not to be recited where unseemliness
or filth is present.
is from Haham Papo's Pele Yoetz (An Encyclopedia of Ethical
Living) which is available in all Jewish bookstores. The Pele Yoetz
was first printed in Constantinople, Turkey in 5585 /1825 CE. It was
popular among both Sephardim and Ashkenazim across Europe and Asia.
The work has been printed in Hebrew, Ladino, Judeo-German, Arabic