One of Jesus’s earliest memories was no doubt watching and listening to his family when they gathered to pray the Shema at sunrise before the day’s work began and after the working work day was over at sunset. He also heard and participated in praying the Shema at their synagogue. He was surrounded by neighbors who also prayed the same prayer in their homes every day.
The Hebrew word for prayer is tefilah. It is derived from the root Pe-Lamed-Lamed and the word l'hitpalel, meaning “to judge oneself.” This surprising word origin provides insight into the purpose of Jewish prayer. The most important part of any Jewish prayer, whether it be a prayer of petition, of thanksgiving, of praise of God, or of confession, is the introspection it provides, the moment that we spend looking inside ourselves, seeing our role in the universe and our relationship to God.
Most of Jewish prayers are expressed in the first person plural, "us" instead of "me," and are recited on behalf of all of the Jewish people. This form of prayer emphasizes their responsibility for one another and their interlinked fates. Prayer is largely a group activity rather than an individual activity.  Group prayers are recited from prayer books, not spontaneous individual prayers. One of the primary purposes of prayer is to learn about God rather than telling God what we want.
The Shema is still an important prayer in Judaism, but the version found in prayer books today is slightly different from the one Yeshua recited. After the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE, the rabbis in Israel removed the first part (the Ten Commandments).  The prayer below is like the one Yeshua and his fellow Jews of that period prayed.
When Yeshua and his fellow Jews recited the Shema they would have used euphemisms for the unpronounceable name of God. We will use “HaShem” (“the Name”) in our version. We will also use the word ELOHIYM for “God.” ELOHIYM would remind people the work of the Creator in the opening creation account of Genesis.
This will be a more literal translation than that of most English Bibles. Please get a notepad and a pen before you continue. You will see that at the beginning of each section I placed a number. As you read the prayer, if something stands out to you, probably because of the differences between this translation and your Bible, jot down the number. Do not stop and consider why it stood out. Wait until you finish and then go back and did in deeper.
Now, let’s step into our time machines and travel back to Nazareth 2,000 years ago and picture ourselves in the room with Yeshua and his family at sunrise. We all stand and face the direction towards Jerusalem. Joseph begins the prayer and we join in by reciting the following words.
1 I am HaShem your ELOHIYM who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
2 You shall have no other ELOHIYM in front of Me.
3 You shall not make for yourself a carved image — any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them.
4 For I, HaShem your ELOHIYM, am a jealous ELOHIYM, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
5 You shall not take the name of HaShem your ELOHIYM in vain, for HaShem will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
6 Guard the Shabbat day, to keep it separate, as HaShem your ELOHIYM commanded you.
7 Six days you shall labor and do all your work.
8 The seventh day is a Shabbat to HaShem your ELOHIYM; you shall not do any work -- you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male slave, nor your female slave, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates – so that your male slave and your female slave may rest like you.
9 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and HaShem your ELOHIYM brought you out from there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm -- therefore HaShem your ELOHIYM commanded you to do the Shabbat day.
10 Honor your father and your mother, as HaShem your ELOHIYM has commanded you so that your days may be prolonged, and so that it may be TOV for you on the land which HaShem your ELOHIYM is giving to you.
11 You shall not murder.
12 You shall not commit adultery.
13 You shall not steal.
14 You shall not testify against your neighbor (as) a false witness.
15 You shall not desire your neighbor’s wife.
16 You shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, his male slave, or his female slave, his ox, his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s.’
17 Hear, O Israel, HaShem our ELOHIYM, HaShem is one!
18 You shall love HaShem your ELOHIYM with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
19 These words which I command you today shall be on your heart.
20 You shall repeat them to your children, and shall speak of them when you sit in your house, when you walk on the road, when you lie down, and when you rise up.
21 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
22 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
23 His signs and His works which He did in the midst of Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, and to all his land; and that which He did to the army of Egypt, to their horses and to their chariots, when He made the waters of the Sea of Reeds flow over them as they pursued them, and HaShem destroyed them to this day.
24 And that which He has done for you in the wilderness until you came to this place.
25 And that which He has done to Dathan and Abiram sons of Eliab son of Reuben, when the earth opened her mouth and swallowed them and their houses, and their tents, and all the living substance which belonged to them in the midst of all Israel.
26 But your eyes see all the work of the great HaShem which He has done.
27 You shall keep every commandment which I am commanding you today, so that you shall be strong and shall go in and possess the land which you are crossing over to possess it, and so that you may prolong your days in the land which HaShem swore to give to your fathers, to them and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey.
28 For the land which you are going to, to possess it, is not like the land of Egypt from where you came from, where you sowed your seed and watered with your foot, as a garden of herbs. But the land which you are crossing over to possess is a land of hills and valleys, which drinks water from the rain of the skies, a land which HaShem your ELOHIYM cares for. The eyes of HaShem your ELOHIYM are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.
29 And it shall come to pass, if you listen and obey My commandments which I command you today, to love HaShem your ELOHIYM and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give the rain of your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, and your wine, and your oil. And I will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you shall eat and be satisfied.
30 Be on guard for yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and serve other ELOHIYM and bow down to them, and the anger of HaShem glows against you, and He shuts up the skies, and there be no rain, and the ground does not give her increase, and you perish quickly from upon the good land which HaShem is giving to you.
31 And you shall lay up these words upon your heart, and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.
32 And you shall teach them to your children, speaking of them as you sit in your house, and as you walk on the road, and as you lie down, and as you rise up.
33 And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which HaShem swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the Heavens upon the Earth.
34 And HaShem spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel. You shall tell them that they shall make tassels on the corners of their garments for their generations, and they shall put on the tassels of the corners a blue thread. And shall be to you for a tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of HaShem and do them, and you shall not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you go astray after. So that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be separate to your ELOHIYM. I am HaShem your ELOHIYM, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your ELOHIYM. I am HaShem your ELOHIYM.”
End of Prayer
When Yeshua dressed he put on a garment with four tassels they reminded him of the words of the Shema. As he worked he saw the tassels of the men he worked with and that reminded him of the Shema. When he walked through doors he saw and touched the mezuzahs on the doorposts, that reminded him of the Shema. Every time he entered the gate of a village or town he saw the mezuzah and that reminded him of the Shema. When he sat in his home, especially as a child, and Joseph taught him the commandments of HaShem, that reminded him of the Shema, as did walking down a road with Joseph as he taught him. When he joined thousands traveling to Jerusalem for the festivals, he was surrounded by people doing the same and that reminded him of the Shema.
Think about what seeing the tassels, mezuzahs and the Shema meant to Jewish women, slaves and foreigners. They were surrounded by people who were aware of HaShem’s commandments and that was no doubt a comforting thing to do. And of course, when Yeshua began his movement, as the audience listened to his words and they saw his tassels -- and as he stood and taught them, he saw their tassels too – and that reminded them all of the words of the Shema.
I would like to challenge every Christian, as well as anyone who holds Yeshua’s words in high esteem, to do what he did twice each day. Take The Real Yeshua Challenge:
For the next seven days, pray (recite) the Shema at the beginning of your day and again around sundown.
One week from now you will have read the Shema fourteen times. Every time you recite it, I have no doubt that you will discover something new. For seven days you will have stepped into Yeshua’s world and did what he did! A lot of people are always asking WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?). Take The Real Yeshua challenge!
Do What Yeshua Did!
PS – I would like to challenge you to do these:
(1) If you accept the challenge, go to our The Real Yeshua Facebook page by CLICKING HERE and “Like it.” That will let me know how many people are taking the challenge.
(2) After the seven days, go back to The Real Yeshua Facebook page by CLICKING HERE and leave a comment about your experience.
(3) Send this to others who value Yeshua and challenge them to do what you did.
(4) Follow up with them after seven days and talk about your experiences.
(5) Follow The Real Yeshua on Twitter by CLICKING HERE – and you will be notified every time we post something about the Real Yeshua.
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 The Jewish People in the First Century, Vol. 2; p. 796.
 The Hebrew word used in the text is YTV, an alternative of TOV and the word HaShem used in his instructions to Cain before he murdered Abel.
 Deuteronomy 5:6-21
 Deuteronomy 6:4-9
 Deuteronomy 11:3-21
 Numbers 15:36 (37)-41