Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.
Shema Yisrael is the soul of Judaism… Shema Yisrael is the soul of Judaism…
When a Jewish boy is given a bris milah, this father calls out Shema Yisrael moments beforehand.
When a child is first able to speak, we teach him Shema Yisrael…
We tell people in the final moments of life to leave the world with the words Shema Yisrael on their lips.
The Shomer Emunim quotes from the Zohar HaKadosh that if someone is able to say Shema with the proper intentions as to what the words mean, the rewards are unfathomable. The Zohar says that there are 248 words in Shema, corresponding to the 248 limbs in a person’s body. Each word of Shema can bring refuah (healing) to its corresponding limb and rectify its spiritual blemishes that resulted from sin.
The Shulchan Aruch (60:5) writes that, at the bare minimum, a person must understand at the least what the first pasuk of Shema Yisrael means. The simplest kavannah [intention] is as follows:
SHEMA YISRAEL – Pay attention and understand, all of us in Klal Yissrael.
HASHEM ELOKEINU– Hashem, Who was, is and will always be, is our G-d. He controls everything and can do whatever He wants at any time.
HASHEM ECHAD– Hashem is the only One with control in the heavens and on the earth and throughout the four corners of this world.
Taken from: Living Emunah Vol. 5 – Achieving A Life of Serenity Through Faith; Chapter 66: The Soul of Judaism