I open my eyes. The morning light snuffs out the last embers of sleep. Hear, O Israel.
I close my eyes. Lashes and lids become a wet blanket. Hear, O Israel.
Each day bookended with these words, the final desire of the soul before death uttered in these words:
“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deut. 6:4)
This affirmation – part prayer, part imperative, part invitation – is called The Shema after the initial summons in Hebrew to hear. It is the seminal word for the Jewish community, the call to listen to God. And its not about listening to the God, as if it’s a statement about monotheism. No, it’s listening to our God, a declaration of solidarity with the One who created, delivered and sustained this people.
The words are first uttered at the edge of the wilderness, on the cusp of the Promised Land. The Hebrew people, ready to cross over into a new life, stopped for a final set of sermons from Moses. The last exhortation to this generation begins with The Shema – a call to focus their attention not on the new land, but on their God. Hear, O Israel!
Read the rest of this reflection, on listening to God and one another with more than our ears, over at SheLoves Magazine today. And join us all month as we ruminate on LISTENING – especially to those with other stories we need to hear.