Sh’ma Yis-ra-eil, A-do-nai E-lo-hei-nu, A-do-nai E-chad.
Hear, O Israel, the L-rd is our G‑d, the L-rd is One.
This very simple line is recited millions of times per day by Jews all over the world. It comes from the book of Devarim or Deuteronomy, chapter 6:4. It speaks of the oneness of G-d. That oneness is completely unique to Him. This line is also a warning to Jews. It warns us to stay away from idolatry. It reminds us who is our G-d. Other religions try to lure us away from the G-d of Israel. They say yes G-d is one, but He is also three. This line refutes this claim. It is repeated daily so that it won’t be forgotten. It is of utmost importance that we remember that He is one.
Hear means to listen. When someone says to listen, they are telling you that what they are about to tell you is important. You need to hear this O Israel. When one uses the word O or Oh, before a name it is adding to the importance of what was just said. In this case, it is the word “hear”. Oh is indicative of the yearning for us to understand. It could have said “listen, Israel” but it didn’t. This is important, possibly more important than what was previously stated. Let’s look at verse 3. And you shall, [therefore,] hearken, O Israel, and be sure to perform, so that it will be good for you, and so that you may increase exceedingly, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, spoke to you, a land flowing with milk and honey. You see in the highlighted line He is saying that He was the G-d of their fathers. Yes, this is important. But it is more significant for us to know that He is our G-d in the here and now. It is also important for us to know that He is one so that we will not be lured away. In verse 12 it tells us exactly this. Beware, lest you forget the Lord, Who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
In the Shema prayer it goes on to say, “and you will not follow after your heart and after your eyes by which you go astray – so that you may remember and fulfill all My commandments and be holy to your G‑d.” This is also a warning. Hashem knows that there are things in this world that have the appearance of something good. This is how we can be lured away. One cannot be lured away by something that doesn’t have a goodly appearance. Lies camouflaged by a tiny bit of truth are still lies. The heart is even more susceptible to being lured away. Other religions know this and use this as a tool to lure us away. They are warm and inviting. They use friendly words to make us feel loved. Be warned, it is very hard to leave a group that is showing you genuine love and affection. This is the warning of Sh’ma Yisrael. We must know who is our G-d and that He is one, else we be lured away by those who would convince us that He is three.
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