Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: Kavana for K'rias Sh'ma

I think we finally have all the pieces to appreciate what we are saying during our declaration of Sh'ma Yisrael morning and evening.

We are in d'varim, Moshe Rabeinu's final speech to Klal Yisrael.  Even though we posken "ein mukdam u'm'uchar b'torah" in the rest of chumash, in d'varim everyone agrees "yeish mukdam u'muchar" and so context is vital to understanding.  In d'varim 5, Moshe Rabeinu reiterates the aseres ha'dibros (which have encoded in them all the 613 mitzvos) and reminds the people that they had asked him to go up the mountain himself to get all the details.  He then continues (d'varim 6:1-3) by reminding Klal Yisrael of its collective purpose and obligation. (Speaking in second person plural.)

Pausing for dramatic effect and to ensure rapt attention, Moshe Rabeinu continues: [Remember Yaakov Avinu with his twelve sons -- the source of each of your tribes -- assembled to her the last of the patriarchs give final instructions.  Yaakov Avinu hesitated; has he succeeded in building a Klal Yisrael?  The sons sense their father's concern and declare -- in unison -- ] Shma Yisrael!  HaShem Elokeinu, HaShem Echad ["Our father and mentor, we are dedicated and united to bring knowledge of HaShem to the world."  And Yaakov Avinu is satisfied, but adds a reminder them that each must do his part.  There are 12 gates, and each of the Shivtei Kah must develop their individual strengths within the context of the greater klal], "Baruch Sheim Kavod Malchoso L'Olam Va'Ed!".

And therefore now, continues Moshe Rabeinu, each of you individually must dedicate yourself to bringing into the world that dimension of k'vod sha'mayim that only you can; "v'ahavta es HaShem Elokecha, b'chol l'vavcha, u'v'chol nafshecha,u'v'chol m'odecha" -- You (singular) shall love HaShem your (singular) G-d, with all of your (singular) heart/mind, with all of your (singular) soul, and with all of your (singular) spiritual and physical resources.

Twice a day, morning and evening, we relive that great moment and renew our dedication.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Using a Mitzvah Object for Non-Mitzvah Purposes

As I am -- Baruch HaShem -- getting older, I am more cognizant of the fact that I'd like to stay as healthy as possible right up the moment I leave this world.  Stuff hurting is not the problem (I am told there is an old Russian saying that once you are 40, if you wake up and nothing hurts -- you're dead), stuff not working, however, is a problem.  To that end, for several years now I commute to work by bicycle (weather permitting, 30 minutes on an elliptical machine when weather does not permit).  I recently took up some upper body weight training.  Not because I want to be governor of California, just simply to slow down loss of bone mass and extend my body's healthy span.  Simple hishtadlus.  I have an 18 month old grandson who is just the right weight for arm curls (yes... I am that weak), so I do about 10 reps when I greet him at night.  He laughs, I get my exercise; all good.  (Main problem is explaining to the older ones why zeidy can't give them the same "…

Thought for the Day: Thanking HaShem Each and Every Day for Solid Land Near Water

Each and every morning, a Jew is supposed to view himself as a new/renewed creation, ready for a new day of building his eternal self through Torah and mitzvos.  We begin the day with 16 brachos to praise/thank/acknowledge HaShem for giving us all the tools we need to succeed.  We have a body, soul, and intellect.  We have vision, mobility, and protection from the elements.  Among those brachos, we have one that perhaps seems a bit out of place: רוקע הארץ על המים/Who spreads out the land on/over the water.  After all, it's nice to have a dry place to walk, but does that compare to the gratitude I have for a working body and vision?  As it turns out, I should; as explained by the R' Rajchenbach, rosh kollel of Kollel Zichron Eliyahu (aka, Peterson Park Kollel).  Your best bet is to listen to the shiur; very distant second is to continue, which I hope will whet your appetite for the real thing.

First... since we have dry land, I don't have to slog to work through even a foot…