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This prayer is one of the most important prayers in Judaism. Taken from the last book in the Torah, Deuteronomy chapter 6, it expresses the Ikkar (the main essence) of our belief in Judaism, and it is sung in every service with minyan or without. It is the oldest fixed daily prayer in Judaism and is recited morning and night. After reading its meaning, let’s ask ourselves–how can we be commandment to love god? And what and how are we teaching our kids? Starting with the first line indicating plural (eloyenu= our god) and then proceeding to V’ahavta (you, in singular, shall love), our rabbis are teaching us a powerful lesson. While acknowledging that god is OUR god, the recognition that love is a very subjective concept. No two people show their love the exact same way, nor do they feel love in the same way. When I recite this prayer, I sense its encouragement to look inward (hence the initial action of covering one’s eyes), and to study Me and my connection to Hashem. How do I love? How do I show love? Is there something that I need to improve on to show love better? In what levels do I show my love to god? Is it only in my heart? does it manifest itself in action (in might)?
Let’s keep the conversation going!
Shema in Hebrew:
שמַע יִשרָאֵל ה’ אֱלֹהֵינוּ ה’ אֶחָד:
וְאָהַבְתָּ אֵת ה’ אלוהיך בְּכָל לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל נַפְשךָ וּבְכָל מְאֹדֶךָ: וְהָיוּ הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה אֲשר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם עַל לְבָבֶךָ: וְשנַּנְתָּם לְבָנֶיךָ וְדִבַּרְתָּ בָּם בְּשבְתְּךָ בְּבֵיתֶךָ וּבְלֶכְתְּךָ בַדֶּרֶךְ וּבְשכְבְּךָ וּבְקוּמֶךָ: וּקְשרְתָּם לְאוֹת עַל יָדֶךָ וְהָיוּ לְטֹטָפֹת בֵּין עֵינֶיךָ: וּכְתַבְתָּם עַל מְזֻזוֹת בֵּיתֶךָ וּבִשעָרֶיךָ:
V’a-hav-ta et A-do-nai E-lo-he-cha,
V’ha-yu ha-d’va-rim ha-ei-leh,
A-sher a-no-chi m’tza-v’cha ha-yom, al l’va-ve-cha.
V’shi-nan-tam l’-va-ne-cha, v’di-bar-ta bam
Uk-shar-tam l’ot al ya-de-cha,
v’ha-yu l’to-ta-fot bein ei-ne-cha.
Uch-tav-tam, al m’zu-zot bei-te-cha, u-vish-a-re-cha.
Hear, O Israel, the L-rd is our G‑d, the L-rd is One.
Recite the following verse in an undertone:
Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever.
You shall love the L-rd your G‑d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might. And these words which I command you today shall be upon your heart. You shall teach them thoroughly to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road, when you lie down and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for a reminder between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates.