Hear, O Yisra’el: Yahweh our Elohim, Yahweh is one! And you shall love Yahweh your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your being, and with all your might. And these Words which I am commanding you today shall be in your heart, and you shall impress them upon your children, and shall speak of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up, and shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
So goes The Shema, a Jewish prayer said by Orthodox Jews every morning and evening. Of course they would say it in Hebrew, or if not in Hebrew, the words might be a little different. There is also more to it before and after, as well as a different version for bedtime.
When I learned of the Shema and its practice, I started implementing it. It got to the point that I would say it immediately upon rising, without a second thought. Although I have fallen out of the habit, I think it is a beautiful thing to keep on your mind.
However, there is a bad habit among the body to study scripture in fragments, and lost the meaning in context. This past week I read Deut. 3:23-7:11, and reading the Shema in context, in The Scriptures translation, brought new light on the Shema for me.
I had thought “these words” meant the part about loving Yahweh and such. Of course it does, but it means so much more than that too. The section immediately before the Shema is…
The Ten Words! (The Ten Commandments)
Wait, what? If Yahweh wanted us to keep the Ten Words on our hearts and on our tongue at all times, why wasn’t it a part of the Shema? I did some *Wikipedia* research, and I learned that after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 CE, they took the Ten Words out of the Shema.
Why would they take the Ten Words out? Is it too lengthy? Or is it just too much spiritual burden?
I have not yet researched the reasons why the Ten Words were taken out, but still I am shocked. It’s actually quite sad that it was taken out. BUT, a portion about the importance of tzitzit was added.
Tzitzit…really? So the ten most important principles of all the scriptures was taken out, but a little thing like tzitzit was added in?
Well, regardless of what happened to the tradition of the Shema, I have been convicted to start praying the Ten Words. And I mean the original Ten Words in which Word #1 is, “I am Yahweh your Elohim who brought you out of the land of Mistrayim, out of the house of bondage.”
I have so much more I could say about the Ten Words, and about the other sections in that Torah Portion. Target Torah has an excellent entry, linked below, on the same portion. Maybe I will continue this discussion another time, but I challenge you reader to revisit those chapters of Deuteronomy and see what Yahweh has to say to you about it.
- Torah Portion #45 Va’etchanan (I Pleaded) Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11 (targettorah.com)