2. I believe with perfect emunah
that the Creator,
blessed be His Name, is not physical,
that no physical attributes can apply to Him,
and that there is nothing whatsoever to compare to Him.The Holy One is utterly transcendent and beyond comprehension. There is no being and no thing that is in any way like the Eternal Being.
Through Infinite Love and Mercy the Supreme Being enables limited comprehension to humanity. A much fuller understanding will be revealed in the Olam Haba (the World to Come). In our more hidden Traditions we conceive of the Eternal One as Ain Soph (literally No-Thing). We need not go into this here, but in order to enable our comprehension Ain Soph reveals the Divine Self as HaShem (Sacred Name) within material existence. HaTorah conceives of HaShem as our King, our Lord, our Master, our Healer, our Father, and so on. Understand however that such are but conceptions, true, but incomplete. We do know from Eternal Wisdom that the Eternal Being is echad, utterly and completely One without any division whatsoever. As declared in the Shema, the declaration of our emunah:
Sh'ma Y'israel Adonai Elohaynu Adonai Echad
Listen Israel, HaShem is our God, HaShem is One - Deuteronomy 6:4.
There is no oneness like the echad nature of the Holy One, Who alone is Blessed and Whom we bless. All conceptions are but similes, conceptions intended to draw the soul towards its Source, towards devekut (attachment) to Ain Soph, our time and space transcending Source.
To aid our conceptualization the Holy One sets limitations on our notions with Torah Truth lest our minds leave the derech or Path of Truth. Among these is the Shema.
Shema is the central, most instructive and most important declaration in all of Judaism and biblical religion. It is the first thing we say upon awakening, after the Modeh Anee* and bodily purifications, the last thing we say before sleep and, if possible, our final words and thoughts before we return our bodies to the dust.Our great sage Rashi aids our understanding:"The Lord is our God; the Lord is one" teaches us that The Lord, who is now our God and not the God of the other nations - He will be [declared] in the future [to be] "the one God," as it is said: "For then I will convert the peoples to a pure language that all of them call on the name of the Lord" (Zephaniah 3:9), and it is [also] said: "On that day will the Lord be one and His name one" (Zechariah 14:9).
Hear, listen! Take to heart, Pay attention! This matters!
The Shema is the soulful cry for the Jewish people to hear and receive the Truth as members of the eternal Covenant. Hear this you people of HaShem! And so we can say: Listen, this is for your ears only! Receive this information and act upon it!
This is not to say that only Jews know and are accepted by HaShem of course. He is the SOLE Creator of all life and He calls all nations to embrace His Seven Law Covenant, however the unique relationship that exists between the One God and His Covenant people is ours alone. As Rebbe Natan of Breslov noted:...both the Shema and the expression, "Blessed is the name of His glorious kingdom for all eternity," contain six words in Hebrew. Thus, Jacob and his sons together recited twelve words [Genesis 49:1], corresponding exactly to the number of Jacob's sons and to the number of the future tribes of Israel. Together, Shema and "Blessed is His Name" are comprised of forty-nine letters, corresponding exactly to the number of letters in the names of the twelve tribes!From this foundational truth the Jewish people bless the world. Through this authority and lineage eventually Messiah will come and then there will be peace throughout the planet (Isaiah 11). For the other nations to seek to usurp our Covenant through any form of replacement theology is a most serious crime against HaShem and His Elect People.
Adonai ("the Lord") indicates the presence of the Sacred Name of Four Letters within the text. Elohaynu is a more generic form, equivalent to "god." As Jews we are commanded to hear and to act on this: 'Listen People of Israel, HaShem alone is to be G-d for you! No other god conception are you to embrace! Adonai Elohaynu, Adonai is our G-d! We should not judge the people of the other religions. We just need to remember that for us HaShem alone is God: Hear O Israel! Not Hear O Nations! This applies to the Jewish people inclusive, religiously observant or not, Orthodox or Liberal. The G-d of Israel is One and we are His extended family, the nation of priests (Exodus 19:6).
In addition to the literal gods of the other religions, this essential truth also demands that our money, prestige, fame, honor, everything we have or aspire to must not become gods for us. Anything we place before or above HaShem is an idol. We must have no gods before or in addition to Him. This includes our religious practices! HaShem alone is God, not our beliefs about Him! Not our rules and regulations, not our rabbis and sages, not our denominations or movements. Beliefs and practices are important, but they can all too easily come to replace HaShem G-d forbid and so He warns us:Deuteronomy 10:12. And now, O Israel, what does the Lord, your God, demand of you? Only to fear the Lord, your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, and to worship the Lord, your God, with all your heart and with all your soul,
13. to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes, which I command you this day, for your good.
The heart (active faith: emunah) and intention (kavanah) must come before our observances and accumulation of knowledge! LOVE HaShem first and foremost with simplicity! Not everyone is going to become a tzaddik (a person of deep and abiding righteousness) in this life, however if we honestly love HaShem we will all gradually be drawn to ever deeper Torah observance, prayer, and study. Each in his or her own way. THEN HaShem will accept our sacrifices and the mitzvot we perform because of the sincerity behind them. Of this truth Rebbe Nachman of Breslov declared:"No sophistication is needed in serving G-d - only simplicity, sincerity and faith.
Simplicity is higher than all else. For G-d is certainly higher than everything else, and G-d is ultimately simple! Sichot Haran #101
Technical observance without emunah, love and intention is not sufficient! The Tanach and Jewish history makes this abundantly clear: "Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff necked" (Deuteronomy 10:16), "I hate all your show and pretense -- the hypocrisy of your religious festivals and solemn assemblies... (Amos 5:21).
HaShem is One. This sounds so simple doesn't it? But it is the most profound truth of all!
"One" in Hebrew is echad. If it is not modified (and its not here) then echad is absolute one. HaShem is echad in every sense! He is one in determining our health! Our wealth! Our level of Torah observance! Our relationships! His Name, Titles, and Attributes are all One, he IS His Name, Titles, Attributes and so on. He is absolutely One. There is no god nor other being with Him. HaShem is not a duality, a trinity nor a pantheon. HaShem is echad! Any conception that adds to or takes from His echad nature is false (Deuteronomy 32:39). Again there is much we do not know, but what HaShem has revealed to us we know and hold firm. We are responsible for what we know, not for we do not.
We know that everything is One in HaShem and so we are safe within His Hands. For this reason the rabbis teach us to respond Baruch HaShem always! Praise God for the seemingly good and for the seemingly bad that we encounter in life. He cares for us and has our best interests at heart always! If HaShem is with us what have we to fear? Do your best always, and then trust HaShem for the outcome. Because HaShem is One He is One with all beginnings and all endings. With emunah there is NOTHING to fear.
Just have emunah! Have faith in the One God revealed through Torah, our history, and through our sages and tzadikim! If we can wrap our minds around this central truth of His Oneness it will change everything! It will free us! We will channel His blessings to the world. This is what Torah says we are to do! Be Blessings! And THIS will bring Messiah!Exercising this level of emunah in the One G-d is the eternal calling of the Jewish people! Through us HaShem is blessing the world entire, past, present and future. Nothing exists outside of His blessings! Just recognize and receive it!
"I will bless those who bless Israel, I will curse all that curse Israel: and in Israel all the families of the earth will be blessed" - Genesis 12:3.Exodus 19:6 You shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which you will speak to the children of Israel.
When we say the Shema we are referring to Deuteronomy 6:4. In Jewish liturgy however it is a bit more ("Blessed is the name of His glorious kingdom for all eternity"). The complete Shema is Deuteronomy 6:4-8, 11:13-22 and Numbers 15:37-42. We wont look at it all here, but consider:Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
6:5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
BECAUSE HaShem is echad (One), we are called to be the people of blessing without fear. Because HaShem is echad we partake in the blessings of His holiness. When we bless others we bless ourselves, which blesses others and so on and on throughout time and space through His Oneness! Blessings upon blessings multiplied throughout time, space and beyond! We recognize His Oneness in all areas of life and we therefore honor all life as being sacred because all life comes from Ain Soph alone.
May we all become one in Him as directed in Torah.Footnote:
Modeh Anee: I Thank You!
AND Israel the Beautiful
Modeh anee levanter
melech chai vekayam,
she-he-chezarta bee nishmatee b’chemla,
I thank You, living and eternal King,
for giving me back my soul in mercy.
Great is Your faithfulness.
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