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What is a Shema Ring? Discover the Nightly Jewish Invocation of Angelic Protection

Explore the Shema Ring Meaning

According to the Jewish tradition, when we drift off to sleep we entrust our souls to God’s care. Then, as we wake, we sing the modah ani, a prayer where we express gratitude to God for returning our souls to us and granting us another day.

Sleep signifies releasing the burdens of the day and relinquishing control. It’s a process where we let go of the events of the day, and temporarily stop interacting with the world. While asleep, we must trust that our hearts will continue beating and that the world will keep turning. We trust that we will awake once again and continue on.

Understanding the Shema Yisrael Prayer Behind the Shema Ring

The Shema Prayer is the eternal cornerstone of Jewish belief throughout the past, present, and future. It is a declaration of the oneness of God. In Judaism, affirming the belief in the oneness of God and His omnipresence is one of the most basic tenets. The Shema blessing is a core prayer in Judaism that is a reminder of God’s constant and eternal presence and protection. 

The Jew is obligated with reciting the Shema Prayer three times a day.

שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָד׃

Hear, O Israel, the L-rd is our G‑d, the L-rd is One.

Deuteronomy 6:4

Jewish prayers

The Invocation of Archangels 

Residing within the Shema prayer recited before sleep is the invocation of the archangels’ protection upon the individual reciting it. The four archangels Michael, Gabriel, Uriel, and Raphael each have a special job to perform, a unique role in providing protection for humans.

(ג”פ:) בְּשֵׁם ה’ אֱלֹקֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל,

מִימִינִי מִיכָאֵל, וּמִשְּׂמֹאלִי גַּבְרִיאֵל, וּמִלְּפָנַי אוֹרִיאֵל, וּמֵאֲחוֹרַי רְפָאֵל,

וְעַל רֹאשִׁי שְׁכִינַת אֵל:

18k gold Shema Ring Meaning
Shema Ring by Sami Zeira

Michael: Protector on the Right

Michael, positioned on the right, symbolizes forbearance and mercy. Believers invoke Michael’s presence as an advocate of Israel to shield them from spiritual as well as physical adversaries.

Michael is said to have been the angel that wrestled with Jacob and that also blessed him afterward. In the Midrash, the scene of the wrestling is depicted as follows: “As dawn broke, groups of angels arrived, proclaiming, ‘Michael, it’s time to sing praises to the Lord.’ Michael urged Jacob to stop wrestling, fearing that the angels might punish him (Michael) for failing to join in the heavenly chorus. When Michael eventually struck Jacob’s thigh, God reproached him for causing a flaw in His priest. 

Gabriel: Guardian on the Left

Gabriel, positioned on the left, serves as a messenger and guardian. Like his name, he is an angel characterized by gevurah (strength).

Referred to as “the prince of severity (gevurah) and fire, Gabriel is known for courage, heroism, and the concept of  man. Gabriel can be interpreted literally as a “man of God,” embodying courage in adhering to universal principles. Gabriel’s root is also linked to the attribute of gevurah, situated on the left side of the Tree of Life. 

While Michael symbolizes God’s right hand, representing mercy and leniency, Gabriel stands at God’s left hand. The left hand is associated with delivering appropriate punishment, contrasting with the right hand’s inclination towards merciful and lenient justice. Invoking the angel Gabriel’s protection is the calling for the delivery of justice upon one’s enemies.

Uriel: Guide Before Me

Uriel, positioned in front, illuminates the path forward. Believers look to Uriel for wisdom as they navigate their spiritual journey. Uriel serves as the angel associated with thunder and earthquakes. In the Bible, Uriel also acts as the Divine messenger who warns Lamech’s son about the impending end of the world, advising him to seek refuge (Enoch, x. 1-2). 

Angel Rapahel inRaphael: Support Behind Me

Raphael, positioned behind the believer, offers healing and support. Raphael and refuah, the Hebrew word for healing, share the same root. One of the first angels to visit Abraham after his circumcision, believers invoke Raphael’s presence for comfort and protection from harm.

God’s Presence: Divine Protection Above

Above the believer’s head rests God’s Presence, symbolizing Divine protection and guidance. Believers find solace in God’s watchful care and omnipotence, the ultimate protection that humans can invoke.

Incorporating the Shema prayer into Daily Life

Believers recite the Shema Yisrael Inscription as part of their daily prayers and rituals, reaffirming their faith and commitment to God. Its words serve as a source of comfort and strength, guiding believers through life’s challenges and uncertainties. The Shema reminds us that there is a singular Creator running the world and that we can always turn to Him in times of distress.

These words are sometimes inscribed onto a piece of jewelry, like a ring or a necklace, to serve as a reminder of the angelic and Divine protection afforded us by this prayer. Many take comfort in carrying these words with them throughout the day.

Conclusion: Embracing Divine Protection for Deep Connection

Incorporating the Shema Yisrael Prayer into daily life fosters a deeper connection with God and reinforces the belief in His constant presence. As believers recite these sacred words, they are reminded of God’s unwavering love and protection, guiding them through life.

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