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What is the shema exactly?

Is it a prayer or confession of faith? 

Thanks for your question.

The Shema more of a declaration of faith than a prayer. It is a sort of preface to prayer. It is a stark reminder that the God of the Bible is entirely different from the God worshipped by false Christianity. The Bible teaches at its core that God is one - not a trinity: three in one and one in three - but an uncreate unity. True Christianity recognizes this fact and teaches not that Jesus is God the Son but rather as the Bible clearly teaches: the Son of God."

Here is some helpfulinformation from Wikipedia:

Shema Yisrael (or Sh'ma Yisroel or just Shema) (Hebrew: שמע ישראל‎; "Hear, [O] Israel") are the first two words of a section of the Torah (Hebrew Bible) that is a centerpiece of the morning and evening Jewish prayer services. The first verse encapsulates the monotheistic essence of Judaism: "Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is One." The Shema is considered the most important prayer in Judaism, and its twice-daily recitation is a mitzvah (religious commandment).

The term "Shema" is used by extension to refer to the whole part of the daily prayers that commences with Shema Yisrael and comprises Deuteronomy 6:4–9, 11:13-21, and Numbers 15:37–41

I hope you have found this helpful.

God bless and keep you!

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