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שְׁמַע | Shema, a paraliturgical reflection by Rabbi Shoshana Meira Friedman

Source (Hebrew) Paraliturgical Reflection (English)

שְׁמַ֖ע יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל   יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ יְהוָ֥ה ׀ אֶחָֽד׃ (דברים ו:ד)
Listen, All of Us Who Wrestle With Life! We belong to all Existence. All Existence is One.

[בלחש]
בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד׃ (משנה יומא ג:ח, פסחים נו א, מדרש תנחומא – בובר קדושים ו׳, ועוד)
 
Blessed is the name of the presence of Being forever and ever.

וְאָ֣הַבְתָּ֔ אֵ֖ת יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֑יךָ
בְּכָל־לְבָבְךָ֥ וּבְכָל־נַפְשְׁךָ֖ וּבְכָל־מְאֹדֶֽךָ׃ (דברים ו:ה)
וְהָי֞וּ הַדְּבָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֗לֶּה אֲשֶׁ֨ר אָנֹכִ֧י מְצַוְּךָ֛ הַיּ֖וֹם עַל־לְבָבֶֽךָ׃
Love God who is also Existence Your Existence
with all your heart, with all your self, with all your strength.
Bring this direction into your heart.

וְשִׁנַּנְתָּ֣ם לְבָנֶ֔יךָ וְדִבַּרְתָּ֖ בָּ֑ם בְּשִׁבְתְּךָ֤ בְּבֵיתֶ֙ךָ֙ וּבְלֶכְתְּךָ֣ בַדֶּ֔רֶךְ וּֽבְשָׁכְבְּךָ֖ וּבְקוּמֶֽךָ׃
וּקְשַׁרְתָּ֥ם לְא֖וֹת עַל־יָדֶ֑ךָ
וְהָי֥וּ לְטֹטָפֹ֖ת בֵּ֥ין עֵינֶֽיךָ׃
וּכְתַבְתָּ֛ם עַל־מְזוּזֹ֥ת בֵּיתֶ֖ךָ וּבִשְׁעָרֶֽיךָ׃ (דברים ו:ו-ט)
Teach these words to your children and speak them when you are sitting at home or walking in the world, when you go to sleep and when you wake.
Place these words as a sign on your hand, that all you do remind you of this direction.
Place these words as a sign between your eyes, that all you see remind you of this direction.
Place these words on the doorposts of your house and your gates, that all transitions remind you of this direction.
Do this so that your children may be assured of their own worthiness for life and love by seeing you be assured of yours.

וְהָיָ֗ה אִם־שָׁמֹ֤עַ
תִּשְׁמְעוּ֙ אֶל־מִצְוֺתַ֔י
אֲשֶׁ֧ר אָנֹכִ֛י מְצַוֶּ֥ה אֶתְכֶ֖ם הַיּ֑וֹם
לְאַהֲבָ֞ה אֶת־יְהוָ֤ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶם֙ וּלְעָבְד֔וֹ
בְּכָל־לְבַבְכֶ֖ם וּבְכָל־נַפְשְׁכֶֽם׃
וְנָתַתִּ֧י מְטַֽר־אַרְצְכֶ֛ם
בְּעִתּ֖וֹ יוֹרֶ֣ה וּמַלְק֑וֹשׁ
וְאָסַפְתָּ֣ דְגָנֶ֔ךָ
וְתִֽירֹשְׁךָ֖ וְיִצְהָרֶֽךָ׃
וְנָתַתִּ֛י עֵ֥שֶׂב בְּשָׂדְךָ֖ לִבְהֶמְתֶּ֑ךָ
וְאָכַלְתָּ֖ וְשָׂבָֽעְתָּ׃ (דברים יא:יג-טו)
It will come to pass that if you really listen to what I am telling you,
what I am speaking directly to your heart ­–
that loving God and the fact of your own life
is a task for your whole heart and whole self ­–
then you will receive nourishment from the land.
You will eat good food, you will treat your body kindly.
You will feel your connection to the ecosystems you depend on.
You will be a willing strand in the web of soil, rain, animals, and people.

הִשָּֽׁמְר֣וּ לָכֶ֔ם פֶּ֥ן יִפְתֶּ֖ה לְבַבְכֶ֑ם
וְסַרְתֶּ֗ם וַעֲבַדְתֶּם֙ אֱלֹהִ֣ים אֲחֵרִ֔ים וְהִשְׁתַּחֲוִיתֶ֖ם לָהֶֽם׃
וְחָרָ֨ה אַף־יְהוָ֜ה בָּכֶ֗ם וְעָצַ֤ר אֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֙יִם֙ וְלֹֽא־יִהְיֶ֣ה מָטָ֔ר וְהָ֣אֲדָמָ֔ה לֹ֥א תִתֵּ֖ן אֶת־יְבוּלָ֑הּ
וַאֲבַדְתֶּ֣ם מְהֵרָ֗ה מֵעַל֙ הָאָ֣רֶץ הַטֹּבָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר יְהוָ֖ה נֹתֵ֥ן לָכֶֽם׃ (דברים יא:טז-יז)
But be careful.
Don’t turn aside from this love of God and of life itself, for then demons will wrest you from your perch.
Then you will not feed yourself, or treat your body kindly. Then you will spurn your place in the web, and you will lose track of all that orients you toward life.

וְשַׂמְתֶּם֙ אֶת־דְּבָרַ֣י אֵ֔לֶּה עַל־לְבַבְכֶ֖ם וְעַֽל־נַפְשְׁכֶ֑ם וּקְשַׁרְתֶּ֨ם אֹתָ֤ם לְאוֹת֙ עַל־יֶדְכֶ֔ם
וְהָי֥וּ לְטוֹטָפֹ֖ת בֵּ֥ין עֵינֵיכֶֽם׃
וְלִמַּדְתֶּ֥ם אֹתָ֛ם אֶת־בְּנֵיכֶ֖ם לְדַבֵּ֣ר בָּ֑ם בְּשִׁבְתְּךָ֤ בְּבֵיתֶ֙ךָ֙ וּבְלֶכְתְּךָ֣ בַדֶּ֔רֶךְ וּֽבְשָׁכְבְּךָ֖ וּבְקוּמֶֽךָ׃
וּכְתַבְתָּ֛ם עַל־מְזוּז֥וֹת בֵּיתֶ֖ךָ וּבִשְׁעָרֶֽיךָ׃
לְמַ֨עַן יִרְבּ֤וּ יְמֵיכֶם֙ וִימֵ֣י בְנֵיכֶ֔ם עַ֚ל הָֽאֲדָמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר נִשְׁבַּ֧ע יְהוָ֛ה לַאֲבֹתֵיכֶ֖ם לָתֵ֣ת לָהֶ֑ם כִּימֵ֥י הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם עַל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ (דברים יא:יח-כא)
So place these words as a sign on your hand, that all you do remind you of this direction.
Place these words as a sign between your eyes, that all you see remind you of this direction.
Teach these words to your children and speak them when you are sitting at home or walking in the world, when you go to sleep and when you wake.
Place these words on the doorposts of your house and your gates, that all transitions remind you of this direction.
Then you may live a good long life on a land that wants to nourish you as it nourished your ancestors, who walked under heaven and over earth.

וַיֹּ֥אמֶר יְהוָ֖ה אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֥ה לֵּאמֹֽר׃
דַּבֵּ֞ר אֶל־בְּנֵ֤י יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ וְאָמַרְתָּ֣ אֲלֵהֶ֔ם וְעָשׂ֨וּ לָהֶ֥ם צִיצִ֛ת עַל־כַּנְפֵ֥י בִגְדֵיהֶ֖ם לְדֹרֹתָ֑ם
וְנָֽתְנ֛וּ עַל־צִיצִ֥ת הַכָּנָ֖ף פְּתִ֥יל תְּכֵֽלֶת׃
וְהָיָ֣ה לָכֶם֮ לְצִיצִת֒
וּרְאִיתֶ֣ם אֹת֗וֹ וּזְכַרְתֶּם֙ אֶת־כָּל־מִצְוֺ֣ת יְהוָ֔ה
וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֹתָ֑ם
וְלֹֽא־תָתֻ֜רוּ
אַחֲרֵ֤י לְבַבְכֶם֙
וְאַחֲרֵ֣י עֵֽינֵיכֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁר־אַתֶּ֥ם זֹנִ֖ים אַחֲרֵיהֶֽם׃
לְמַ֣עַן תִּזְכְּר֔וּ וַעֲשִׂיתֶ֖ם אֶת־כָּל־מִצְוֺתָ֑י וִהְיִיתֶ֥ם קְדֹשִׁ֖ים לֵֽאלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃
אֲנִ֞י יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹֽהֵיכֶ֗ם אֲשֶׁ֨ר הוֹצֵ֤אתִי אֶתְכֶם֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם
לִהְי֥וֹת לָכֶ֖ם לֵאלֹהִ֑ים אֲנִ֖י יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵיכֶֽם׃ (במדבר טו:לז-מא)
אֱמֶת (ברכות יד ב)
God spoke to Moshe saying:
Put fringes on the corners of your garments for all generations.
Put in the fringes a thread of blue, the color of sky and of clarity.
The fringes shall be yours.
You shall see them and remember this direction.
You shall gather in the marginalized scraps of yourself
under the shawl of My love.
When you see the fringed edges you will be knotted back to your center
So you won’t stray too long away your integrity, your good life.
When you follow this direction, you will merit to be holy in relationship to Me,
For I am the force that pulls you out of stuck places
to be in loving relationship with you.
This is the truth.

Rabbi Shoshana Meira’s paraliturgical reflection on the Shema was first published in her Siddur v’lo Nevosh (2014). Linear correspondence between the Hebrew source and the English by Aharon Varady.

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