I have seen no small number of Sepharadim recite Qeri'at Shema' whilst covering their eyes in the fashion below (as opposed to what I assume is the predominant Ashkenazi custom of simply placing one's entire right hand over one eyes).

Not knowing quite what to Google for, can the MY community help me to understand the ta'am (reason; lit. flavor) behind this particular custom?

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    One can right-click on any of the images above and click "open image in new tab" (if using Google Chrome) for a full-sized version.
    – Lee
    Mar 21, 2016 at 9:47
  • yeshiva.org.il/ask/66689
    – Lee
    Mar 21, 2016 at 10:25

1 Answer 1


Covering One’s Eyes During the Recitation of Shema cites the following explanation as give by Rabbi Eli J Mansour

According to Kabbalistic teaching, one should cover his eyes during Shema while positioning his fingers in the shape of the letters “Shin,” “Dalet” and “Yod,” which spell the Divine Name of “Sha-dai.” This is done by bringing the three middle fingers together, to form a “Shin,” and then bending the thumb to resemble a “Dalet,” and bending the pinky to resemble a “Yod.” One places the three middle fingers (the “Shin”) on his forehead, the thumb (the “Dalet”) over the right eye, and the pinky (the “Yod”) over the left eye.

  • Interesting, I wonder if this is related to the minhag of the Lubavitcher Rebbe which was to touch his arm tefillin with the three middle fingers, then touch the head tefillin with only the middle finger, touch his pointer and ring finger each on one eye, and then kiss all three fingers (at the times in Shacharis) I have not seen a source for this custom. Oct 26, 2017 at 2:16
  • I think this answer could be improved if you include an explanation of why the people who do this would want to do this.
    – bondonk
    May 25, 2021 at 9:07

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