Shema - A Jewish Prospective on Being Faithful
We can better understand Shema by knowing that in the Jewish home, the father is the priest and guide. He expects his bride to measure up to the description of the wife as described in Proverbs31:10 - 31
10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.
11 The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil.
12 She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life.
13 She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands.
14 She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar.
15 She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.
16 She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard.
17 She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms.
18 She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night.
19 She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.
20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land.
24 She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.
25 Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come.
26 She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.
29 Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.
30 Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.
31 Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates.
His children are required to study and recite knowledge and wisdom found in the Torah which is the teaching and instruction of Hashem. Hashem or "The Name" is used to speak of God. ThisHebrew phrase is taught and used in the home in order to avoid even the slightest possibility of taking the Lord's name in vain.
The Rabbis control the Jewish Yeshivas (schools). The Levites and the Cohen (descendants of Aaron) instruct in language, music, math, and applied sciences. The Torah, of course, is the main focus. The first book revealed to students is the book of Leviticus, which contains the instructions of Abba Father. Because Hebrew is a picture language and quite complicated, instruction and knowledge of each of the 22 letters is begun at a very early age usually between 3 to 4 years old.
This was true prior to and during the time of Messiah, just as it is true today. In the devout Jewsih home, the Shema is recited three times a day (morning, noon, and night) and usually in Hebrew.
Once a child learns the Shema, that child is being trained for a life of faithfulness unto Hashem.. For those who don't know the Shema, it is found in Deuteronomy 6:4 - 5 4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: 5 And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. It is a declaration of devotion to the one God.
The Hebrew pronunciation is: Sh - ma Yis - re - el, A - do - nai El - o - hei - nu: A - do - nai E - chad. Ba - ruch shem k - vod, Mal - coos - so ley - olom va yed
A quick index to the words in this devotional prayer would be Shema = hear, as in sound coming to your ears.
Yis re' el = Israel the land from the Nile in south to the Euphrates in the north.
Adoni Eloheinu = The Lord our God.
Adoni Echad = The Lord who walked the Earth is Echad = "one"
Baruch = Blessed
Malcosso = Majesty
Ley olom, va yed = which is forever.
To demonstrate the complexity of the Hebrew language, here is a diagram of the first word of the eternal devotional, SH'MA OR HEAR: שמעHebrew letters are read from right to left.
The Shema in Hebrew is spelled using three letters: Shem, Mem, and Ayin or I-yin. These three symbols are brought together until their individual meanings from this word Shema, which is a vivid picture or image of exactly what our Lord was saying to Moses.
ש The Shin represents the number 21 and it is a picture of teeth which can destroy, consume, or protect. This is the only Hebrew letter that encompasses the Tetragramaton; The (four letter name of God) YHVH or Yahweh, which is understood to 'El Shaddai/Almighty God'. The shin also depicts Jerusalem, where God has chosen to reign among men. The branches of this letter, like every olive tree branch, is pointed heavenward. Being like teeth depicts power to destroy one's enemies; and of the Sacred, vanquishing the Defiled.
Even as we are required to prove our love among ourselves, our nature requires we prove our love for God by keeping his commandments, laws, statutes, ordinances, and judgments. God's nature also requires of Himself to prove to His creation, His love with undeniable proof. His personal sacrifice to restore us to Himself, which can be found in the Psalms of David and the words of Isaiah. The second letter of this word Shema or hear is the Mem.
ם or מ The Mem represents the number 13. The Mem may be drawn in two different ways, both ways show the flow of or the lack of the flow of waters. Waters are the symbol of birth, both physical and spiritual birth or rebirth. The open Mem speaks of the open womb. An example is Moshe or Moses who was drawn from the flowing waters of the Nile. Another example is the word Messiah. When the prophet Isaiah spoke of the coming Messiah in Chapter 7 Verse 14, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." the Mem in the word Immanuel is closed, telling us that Messiah will come from a closed or virgin womb. This is also depicted or revealed by the spiritual picture of Moshe drawing water from a solid rock. In Torah, this can be studied in the 17th chapter of Exodus. That the Mem in those two books is closed denotes that Messiah shall be viewed as the Rock of our salvation and being borne of the spirit. In expanded Hebraic terms, this closed Mem also is viewed as the symbol for covering those who dwell in the Kingdom, who are spiritual and not temporal. The third letter of the word Shema or Hear is Ayin (I-yin).
ע The Ayin represents the number 16. It is the picture of a watchful, all seeing eye of knowing and seeing for yourself. Spiritually, it is the picture of revelation: It is modest but attractive. And seldom is it a huge amount of information. We are compelled therefore to do justice (that which is right). We are assured by God's sense of justice and salvation. Whether we see it or not, by promise, YHVH works doing good, so we work doing good. By visually observing and imitating what God has and is doing for human benefit, we acquire understanding, and wisdom follows.
And so we see this word Shema or Hear, is made up of symbols: The olive branches pointing upward and receiving that which comes from heaven. The open Mem spiritually refers to Moses and birth. Adding to the first two letters, the third letter I-yin is a picture of God's All Seeing Eye, which also points to God's sense of judgment. All these create a clear picture.
A picture that means receive from Heaven, the words of Moses and be born spiritually into the justice which comes from God. With these three symbols or letters, we are shown exactly what God means, and it is not to just Hear as in realizing that sound is coming to your ears.
The Shema is a statement of God's intention for his children. In the English language, we hear this, "Hear O' Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Blessed be His glorious name, whose Majesty is forever."
Copyright 2010 by Orley Brock
Note - The word spelled Shema is correctly pronounced Sha Ma
Judaism 101: Shema