The Shema, one of the most important (and shortest) prayers in Jewish liturgy, is surrounded by three long blessings. The first two, which thank God for creation and revelation precede the Shema. The third, which thanks God for redemption, follows the Shema.
While the translation below uses masculine God language, numerous Jewish prayer books (siddurs) use gender-neutral language when referring to God. Most synagogues provide prayer books for use during services. However, if you are considering buying your own Jewish prayer book, we recommend you first read: How to Choose a Siddur, or Jewish Prayer Book.
To read the text in Hebrew, click here and scroll down to “WEEKDAY, SHACHARIT, BLESSINGS OF THE SHEMA, FIRST BLESSING BEFORE SHEMA.”
The translation below is reprinted with the permission of The Rabbinical Assembly from Siddur Sim Shalom: A Prayerbook for Shabbat, Festivals and Weekdays (1985), pp. 97-105.
Blessing One: Creation (Yotzer Or)
Praised are you, Lord our God, King of the universe, creating light and fashioning darkness, ordaining the order of all creation.
You illumine the world and its creatures with mercy; in Your goodness, day after day You renew Creation. How manifold Your works, O Lord; with widom You fashioned them all. The earth abounds with Your creations. Uniquely exalted since earliest time, enthroned on praise and prominence since the world began, eternal God, with Your praise and prominence since the world began, eternal God, with Your manifold mercies continue to love us, our Pillar of strength, protective Rock, sheltering Shield, sustaining Stronghold.
Our praiseworthy God with vast understanding fashioned the rays of the sun. The good light He created reflects His splendor; radiant lights surround His throne. His heavenly servants in holiness exalt the Almighty, constantly recounted His sacred glory. Praise shall be Yours, Lord our God, for Your wondrous works, for the lights You have fashioned, the sun and the moon which reflect Your glory.
Our Rock, our Redeemer, our King, Creator of holy beings, You shall be praised forever. You fashion angelic spirits to serve You; beyond the heavens, they all await Your command. In chorus they proclaim with reverence words of the living God, eternal King. Adoring, beloved, and choice are they all, in awe fulfilling their Creator’s will. In purity and sanctity they raise their voices in song and psalm, extolling and exalting, declaring the power, praise, holiness, and majesty of God, the great, mighty, awesome King, the Holy One. One to another they vow loyalty to God’s kingship, one to another they join to hallow their Creator with serenity, pure speech, and sacred song, in unison chanting with reverence:
Holy, holy, holy, Adonai tzeva’ot; the whole world is filled with His glory.
As in the prophet’s vision, soaring celestial creatures roar, responding with a chorus of adoration:
Praised be the glory of the Lord throughout the universe.
To praiseworthy God they sweetly sing: the living, enduring God they celebrate in song. For He is unique, doing mighty deeds, creating new life, championing justice, sowing righteousness, reaping victory, bringing healing. Awesome in praise, Sovereign of wonders, day after day in His goodness He renews Creation. So sang the Psalmist: “Praise the Creator of great lights, for His love endures forever.” Cause a new light to illumine Zion. May we all soon share a portion of its radiance. Praised are You, Lord, Creator of lights.
Blessing Two: Revelation (Ahava Rabba)
Deep is Your love for us, Lord our God, boundless Your tender compassion. You taught our ancestors life-giving laws. They trusted in You, our Father and King. For their sake graciously teach us, Father, merciful Father, show us mercy; grant us discernment and understanding. Then will we study Your Torah , heed its words, teach its precepts and follow its instruction, lovingly fulfilling all its teachings. Open our eyes to Your Torah, help our hearts cleave to Your mitzvot. Unite all our thoughts to love and revere You. Then shall we never be brought to shame. Trusting in Your awesome holiness, we will delight in Your deliverance. Bring us safely from the ends of the earth, and lead us in dignity to our holy land. You are the Source of deliverance. You have called us from all peoples and tongues, constantly drawing us nearer to You, that we may lovingly offer You praise, proclaiming Your Oneness. Praised are You, Lord who loves His people Israel.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is One.
Praised be His glorious sovereignty throughout all time.
(Read the following three passages from the Torah [click each for text]):
Blessing Three: God Alone is the Eternal Redeemer
Your teaching is true and enduring. Your words are established forever. Awesome and revered are they, eternally right; well ordered are they, always acceptable. They are sweet and pleasant and precious, good and beautiful and beloved. True it is that eternal God is our King, that the Rock of Jacob is our protecting shield. He is eternal and His glory is eternal; He is God for all generations. His sovereign throne is firmly established; His faithfulness endures for all time.
His teachings are precious and abiding; they live forever. For our ancestors, for us, for our children, for every generation of the people Israel, for all ages from the first to the last, His teachings are true, everlasting. True it is that You are the Lord our God, even as You were the God of our ancestors. Our King and our ancestors’ King, our Redeemer and our ancestors’ Redeemer, our Creator, our victorious Stronghold. You have always helped us and saved us. Your name endures forever. There is no God but You.
You were always the help of our ancestors, a shield for them and for their children, our deliverer in every generation. Though You abide in the pinnacle of the universe, Your just decrees extend to the ends of the earth. Happy the one who obeys Your mitzvot, who takes to heart the words of Your Torah. You are, in truth, Lord of Your people, their defender and mighty King. You are first and You are last. We have no King or Redeemer but You. You rescued us from Egypt; You redeemed us from the house of bondage. The firstborn of the Egyptians were slain; Your firstborn were saved. You split the waters of the sea. The faithful You rescued; the wicked drowned. The waters engulfed Israel’s enemies; not one of the arrogant remained alive. Then Your beloved sang hymns and acclamation, extolling You with psalms and adoration. They acclaimed God King, great and awesome Source of all blessings, the everliving God, exalted in majesty, who redeems the meek, helps the needy and answers His people’s call. Praises to God supreme, ever praised is He. Moses and the people Israel sang with great joy this song to the Lord:
Who is like You, Lord, among all that is worshiped? Who is like You, majestic in holiness, awesome in splendor, working wonders? (Exodus 15:11)
The redeemed sang a new song for You. They sang in chorus at the shore of the sea, acclaiming Your sovereignty:
“The Lord shall reign throughout all time.” (Exodus 15:18)
Rock of Israel, rise to Israel’s defense. Fulfill Your promise to deliver Judah and Israel. Our Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel, Adonai tzeva’ot is His name. Praised are You, Lord, Redeemer of the people Israel.