“The entire Shema should be recited with the same awe as one would feel when reading the proclamation of a king. Every syllable should be said carefully, especially the letters yud and aleph of the word ‘Yisrael'” (Shulchan Aruch 61: 1,18). Why must one be so meticulous about the pronunciation of every letter?
As mentioned earlier, when said properly, every word of Shema protects a different limb of the human body. In order for the words to have their full impact, each word must be said correctly. Even a single letter mispronounced could detract from the healing power of the Shema (Mishna Berura 61,32).
Our Sages reveal that extra care in saying Shema cools off the heat of the Gehenom that a person endures after death (Brachos 15b). Heating oneself up to say Shema carefully effectively lowers the heat of Gehenom (Mahari Abuhav cited by Beis Yosef 62,2).
Text Copyright © 2009 by Rabbi Daniel Travis and Torah.org