SH’MA: Painting and Prayer

Hear O Israel
Hear O Israel
Hear O Israel

Marlene Burns©2012. All rights reserved

Sh’ma Yisrael


“Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our G-d, the One and Only.

Blessed is the Name of His glorious kingdom for all eternity.”

This image is the expression of the watchwords of Judaism.

In the background, the red color field symbolizes G-d

 and the metallic color field represents His heavenly realm.

The proper cantillation (chanting) of the first line is shown

 by the trope marks in the line that separates the two color fields.

From the arc at the top, falls twelve drips, representing the twelve sons

 of our patriarch, Jacob (Israel) from whom the twelve tribes originated.

 These drips reference the Midrash story that explains

why the second line is not said out loud.

The Midrash tells us that when Israel was on his death bed,

he was surrounded by his sons. They announced,

 “ Listen, father (Israel): the Lord is our G-d…” to assure their father

 that they understood the true meaning of Judaism and would

maintain their allegiance to this basic tenet. It is said that Israel

responded by saying the second line in his weak and dying voice.

 We emulate Israel’s words by saying them softly or silently.

The four orbs in shades of blue accentuate the following words:

Adonai, Eloheynu, Adonai, and Echad (Lord, our G-d, Lord, One).

One fringe of the tzitzit should be dyed a techeilet blue.

The shades of blue remind us that the exact color is not known today.

The single shaft of red (G-d) anchors the composition and design,

as G-d anchors our way of life.

For the complete series of Judaic paintings and teachings by Marlene Burns, please go to: