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Chapter 17: 3-5
Recitation of the Shema

  1. Before reciting the Shema, one should have the intention of fulfilling the mitzvah of reciting the Shema, which we were commanded by the Holy One, blessed be He. When one recites Shema Yisroel, one should concentrate on its meaning: "Hear [i.e., comprehend] Israel, that G-d is our Lord and He is the One G-d, single and unified in the heavens and the earth."

    A person should prolong his pronunciation of the ches of Echod in order to pronounce G-d as king in the heavens and the earth.* One should also prolong the pronunciation of the dalet slightly in order to allow one to meditate on how G-d is One is His world and the ruler within all four directions of the world.**

    * {Since the ches, numerically equivalent to eight, is an allusion to the seven heavens and our physical earth.}

    ** {The dalet is numerically equal to four.}

    However, one should not prolong the word any longer than that. Also, one should take care that in prolonging the pronunciation, one does not mispronouncing the word Echod. Indeed, we find many of the common people mispronouncing the word. Some say eche'od and others edhoddeh. It would be preferable for them not to prolong their pronunciation of the term rather than to mispronounce it as they do.

    It is customary to recite the verse Shema Yisroel in a loud voice, to arouse one's concentration. A person should cover his eyes with his right hand [when reciting the verses Shema Yisroel and Boruch Shem].

    After the Shema, one should pause momentarily and recite Boruch Shem K'vod Malchuso l'olom vo'ed. (Except on Yom Kippur,) this verse is recited silently. In this verse as well, one should concentrate on the meanings of the words.

  2. One should pause slightly and then, recite the passage Ve'ohavto (And you shall love...). Between this passage and the following one, V'hoyoh im shomo'a (And it will come to pass if you heed...), one should also pause. Similarly, before beginning the passage Vayomer (And G-d spoke...), one should pause. When reciting that passage, one should have the intention to fulfill the positive commandment to remember the exodus from Egypt.

  3. One must be very careful about the exactness of one's pronunciation when reciting the Shema, using a Siddur which has been carefully checked.

    One should read the Shema aloud, so that one can hear what one says. Care should be taken not to drop the dot (dagesh) in a letter nor to add one unnecessarily, thus mispronouncing a word. One should pause whenever there so a line like this "I" marked in the Siddur. The above also applies in P'sukei D'zimroh.

    One should carefully pronounce the aiyn in the word nishba' (swore) so that it should not sound like nishboh (captured), a hey being substituted for the aiyn. Similarly, one should take care regarding the pronunciation of the zayin of uz'chartem (and you shall remember) - that it not be pronounced as a sin.

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Halacha-Yomi, Copyright (c) 1999 Project Genesis, Inc.



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