If you ask any of the people who know me well – what is Dee’s favorite word(s), they would tell you, “Shema and Shalom.” Today we read about Shema (pronounced “shmah”) and why it is so important.
My prayer is that you will become familiar with the prayers that Jesus said, along with other things He did. He is our example.
When I was working on my degree in Psychology, I recall a study that entailed the needs of children and orphans. Below is a quick synopsis.
Shema: An Ancient Memory in an Orphanage
In 1945, Rabbi Eliezer Silver headed up the search for thousands of displaced Jewish children across Europe. They had been hidden from the clutches of the Nazis on farms, convents, and monasteries, and now he sought to return them to their families if at all possible. Does this resonate with you to the current situation taking place in the world?
The Rabbi had a promising lead with a report that a monastery in southern France had taken in Jewish children. But the priest in charge was of little help, declaring that to his knowledge, all of their children were Christians. And Rabbi Silver could produce no records.
Schwartz… Kaufmann… Schneider… These were some of the names of families who were looking for their, those names could be either Jewish or Gentile.
Rabbi scanned their small faces—many had lived there since they were toddlers. How could he know if any of them were from Jewish families?
Rabbi asked permission could be granted for him to visit the wards. In front of the children, he began singing in Hebrew, “Shema Israel, Adonai Elohenu, Adonai Echad.” (Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one.)
A handful of faces lit up, and tiny voices from around the room joined in. They recognized these ancient words from their bedtime prayers, and from their earliest memories of their mothers and fathers reciting them each morning and evening, during their own prayers.
For thousands of years, observant Jewish parents have taught their children the words of the Shema as soon as they could speak. Jesus possibly learned it from His parents when he was a child too. These same lines have been central to Jewish prayer life since centuries before Jesus was born.
Before I started learning about Jesus’ Jewish background, I had never even heard of The Shema. But it was so central to Jesus’ own faith that when asked what He believed was the greatest commandment, His answer began by quoting from the Shema:
One of the teachers of the law…asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:28-31
Like many Christians, if you asked me to summarize this famous story, I’d rattle off Jesus’ words about loving God and neighbor. But I’d skip over this mysterious preamble about God being “one,” the very words that those Jewish children knew by heart. This was the cornerstone of their faith.
Three sections of Scripture are repeated twice daily to remind each Jewish person of his or her commitment to God.
Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.
You shall teach them diligently to your sons and talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.
You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil.
He will give grass in the fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.
Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them. Or the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you.
You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead.
You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth.
The Lord also spoke to Moses, saying,
“Speak to the sons of Israel, and tell them that they shall make for themselves tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations and that they shall put on the tassel of each corner a cord of blue. It shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, so as to do them and not follow after your own heart and your own eyes, after which you played the harlot, so that you may remember to do all My commandments and be holy to your God.
I am the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt to be your God; I am the Lord your God.
In conclusion, the Shema stands as a timeless testament to the enduring power of faith and the bonds of unity. Its significance echoes through the ages, touching the lives of those who seek to understand its profound message. Just as Rabbi Silver’s singing of the Shema rekindled memories and hope for young souls in an orphanage, may this ancient prayer continue to resonate in our hearts, reminding us to love and serve with unwavering devotion. As we ponder its words, may we be inspired to nurture our own faith, cherish our heritage, and unite in love, just as those who came before us did.
Dee McGinnis, a woman of unwavering faith and resilience, overcame adversity to thrive in the fields of psychology and counseling. Her journey, from challenging beginnings to a Senior Project Manager at General Motors, reflects her profound passion for making a difference. As an accomplished author, counselor, and prophetic intercessor, Dee’s commitment to her craft and her community shines brightly. Alongside her husband, Steve, they’ve established foundations that inspire and uplift, leaving an indelible mark on the world. Dee’s story is a testament to the transformative power of faith and the belief that there is always more to discover in life.