by Rabbi Dovid Green
In this week's parsha we encounter much of the Judaism 101 which is the
foundation of Jewish beliefs. The receiving of the Torah, and the ten
commandments are repeated. The first of the three paragraphs of the Sh'ma
Yisrael is in this parsha as well. We will focus on the Sh'ma. "Sh'ma
Yisrael," listen Jewish People, "Hashem Elokainu", Hashem our G-d, "Hashem
Echad", is One. There are several thoughts we will discuss.
In Hebrew the word sh'ma, listen, can mean "accept" as well. The sages say
that when we recite the "Sh'ma" we should accept G-d's sovereignty over
ourselves. That means we accept to do His will as it is stated in the Torah.
Hashem Elokainu, Hashem our G-d, is our personal G-d. He maintains a
personal relationship with each and every one of us individually. He creates
our life circumstances to best bring out the greatness we were created with.
"Hashem Echad." Hashem is One. G-d is unique. He is unity. He can not be
divided, nor does He share His sovereignty. He is not made of of parts or
entities. He is King of the universe.
"And you should love Hashem your G-d." Love of G-d manifests itself in
several ways. "With all your heart." This means we should even channel our
desires to do things which go against G-d's will and use that strength for
the right things.
"And with all of your soul," even if G-d chooses to take one's soul, we
should give up our lives for Him. There are only three commandments for
which a person must die rather than commit. They are immorality, murder, and
idol worship. Other commandments one is required to break in order to save
"And with all of your might." This refers to one's money. There are unusual
times when one would be required to give up his money. in the service of G-d.
Another important idea behind loving G-d is that G-d should be loved because
of you. People should look at a Torah Jew and say "so and so who learned
Torah, look how beautiful his deeds are," and not the opposite, G-d forbid.
"And these things which I command you today;" We should look at the
commandments as if we received then today. We should perform them with a
freshness and enthusiasm.
"Shall be on your heart." We should think about these words and internalize
them. The more we think about them, the more we live with them as our world
"You shall teach them to your children." Jewish children need quality Jewish
education! They should be educated to love G-d and live by these principles.
"And you shall speak about them." Teach by example. Don't wonder why your
child isn't interested if you don't model interest yourself. In the house,
while travelling, at leasure time, etc., one should make conversation about
Hashem and His commandments.
And you shall write them on the doorposts of your houses, and your gates."
Hashem is the only King Who stays ourside and guards his subjects.
The Sh'ma is recited twice daily, once is the morning, and once in the
evening. People also recite it before retiring for the night. Lastly, it is
the affirmation of faith which is said before dying.
The Sh'ma is our opportunity daily to declare G-d's sovereignty and oneness.
It is a special privilege we have as His close sevants. May we all merit to
truly accept G-d's sovereignty.