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Thought for the Day: Living With Intent All Day Every Day -- Starting with the Morning שמע

I had a philosophical discussion with a non-Jewish colleague last week during our Fight for Air Climb.  (You know I can't go more than a few minutes with engaging in some sort of philosophical speculation.  Climbing 4 x 45 floors of stairs together yields lots of "few minutes" that lend themselves to new discussions.)  It started innocently enough; she asked me if I rode my bicycle on Shabbos.  Of course that lead to a discussion of the nature of Shabbos observance and from there to the nature of being a Torah observant Jew.  I mean; how could it not?

So I noted that Shabbos is our testify that reality is a creation with an very interested Creator.  We do that by refraining from the 39 categories of labor that were utilized to create our reality.  "For example", I said, "suppose I peas and carrots, but only want to the carrots.  I can take the carrots from the peas..."  "I see", she said, "that's just eating."  "Right", I said, "but to remove the peas would be a violation of Shabbos."  (I may have actually said, "capital offence"...)  She replied, "Oh; so it all goes on intent."  "Yes", I replied.  She picked up on that and said, "Not a bad way to live; always acting with intent."  I smiled.  It's always better if they say the obvious conclusion themselves.

There are six events/memorials (my siddur adds another four)  that one is obligated to remember each day.  The Biur Heitev (siman 60, which details the halachos of how much and what kavana is required in the recitation of שמע and its brachos), quotes from ספר הכוונות (I didn't even know there was such a sefer) that attaches four of those remembrances to to the daily recitation of שמע and its brachos.  They are:
  1. When saying ובנו בחרת/You chose us, remember that we stood at Har Sinai -- chosen from all the nations -- to receive His Torah.
  2. When saying לשמך הגדול/for (the sake of) Your Great Name, remember that we are obligated to wipe out the memory of Ameleik, because His name is not complete in this world until Ameleik has been destroyed.
  3. When saying להודות לך/to thank/acknowledge You, remember that our mouth was created to praise and acknowledge our Creator, and not to say lashon hara; that is, remember and reflect on what happened to Miriam when she questioned Moshe's judgement behind his back.
  4. During the last paragraph -- the parsha of tzitzis -- remember that HaShem took us out from the slavery of Egypt.
The Magein Avraham adds a fifth kavana: when saying ואהבת/and you shall love (HaShem), reflect on that time when we did not put our love for HaShem in the forefront and fell victim to the sin of the Golden Calf.  We felt HaShem's love at that time because He became angry with us.  That sort of anger is only vented when there one partner in a loving relationship strays.  It hurts, but it is also the greatest testimony to the depth of the love; and hence also a comfort.

So there you have five of the six remembrances in saying שמע with its brachos first thing every morning.  Attaching those remembrances to the words of שמע and it's brachos forces one to have real concentration on the task at hand... and sets a precedent for the rest of the day.  All our words and actions should be with intent for and rememberance of the One who gave us existence.

The remaining rememberance is Shabbos.  Where is that?  Umm... of course you have to be awake!  How can you be awake and not counting down the days/minutes/seconds to Shabbos?!


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