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: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…