This article is a drash on Shema. As a drash it is meant to be an inspirational teaching and with some lessons for today. But I cannot inspire anyone with a verse from the Bible properly without explaining what it truly means in context. And that means some serious teaching and digging a little below the surface is necessary. I cannot assume that people who read or hear this share the same understanding of Shema with me, so before I can inspire someone with any words from the Torah, I have to help you see what the Shema means to Jewish people.
Shema is much more than just a passage from the Bible. Yes, it is a biblical quote, but over the years it has become much more than that for Jewish people. In Judaism, it is considered to be prayer because its words are recited each day. In fact, many Jewish prayers contain portions of Scriptures. For all the misunderstandings and abuse of pre-written prayers, praying God’s own words standing before God is praying according to his will. If they are God’s own words, then they are in his will. Such prayers, if internalized and owned, actually transform the one who prays them. How about that for praying in words which are not your own?
So what is this Shema?
שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יהוה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יהוה אֶחָד׃
Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheynu Adonai Echad
Listen, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.
But that is not all of the Shema…