Most of you are familiar with the Shema which is recited regularly by Jews across the world. However, I’d like to bring up a few things about it that you may not have thought about.
Sh’ma, Yisra’el! Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad. (Hear, Israel! Adonai our God, Adonai is one); and you are to love Adonai your God with all your heart, all your being and all your resources. These words, which I am ordering you today, are to be on your heart; and you are to teach them carefully to your children. You are to talk about them when you sit at home, when you are traveling on the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them on your hand as a sign, put them at the front of a headband around your forehead, and write them on the door-frames of your house and on your gates. ~~ Deuteronomy 6: 4-9
The Hebrew word “sh’ma” which is translated as “hear” or “harken” really means to take action. Its intention is not at all passive. It might better be translated as “Hear and obey, Israel!”
Those of us who came out of organized churches can sometimes be leery of recitation. We’ve seen it used as a tool for indoctrination, which leads to an assumption that it must always be wicked and mindless. But recitation does not inherently have evil intent. Growing up, we’ve all learned things by repetition. Using repetition in order to learn God’s ways is not a bad thing. Note how often in our Bible things are repeated and people are reminded of what God has done.
Another important thing to consider is that when Yeshua was asked what was the greatest commandment of God, He actually quoted part of the shema!
One of them who was a Torah expert asked a sh’eilah (question about Jewish law) to trap him: “Rabbi, which of the mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah is the most important?” He told him “’You are to love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ This is the greatest and most important mitzvah (command). And a second is similar to it, ‘You are to love your neighbor as yourself.’ All of the Torah and the Prophets are dependent on these two mitzvot.” ~~ Matthew 22: 35-40
If our Lord and Messiah said this was the most important command, it would behoove us to take note. So, what does it mean to hear and obey this commandment? What does loving Adonai with all we have REALLY look like in action? Doesn’t Yeshua say that if we love Him, we will obey Him? Obedience to God’s commands is a real-life demonstration of our love for Him.
Let’s not recite words as mere habit or tradition. Let us ingrain them in our hearts and live them out in daily action! Praise to our Elohim, YHWH, Creator and Sustainer of all things! Praise to our Messiah Yeshua, the ultimate Passover lamb!