Verses for March 2007
- The Shema
We begin our series on scripture memory verses for the
month by focusing on the Shema:
6:4 Hear, O Israel: The
LORD is our God, the
LORD alone. 6:5 You
shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all
your soul, and with all your might. (NRSV)
This passage is
called the Shema, because the first word in Hebrew is Shema,
meaning "hear" or "listen". The Shema is the center of Jewish
prayer and confession. Jesus quotes the Shema along with Lev. 19:18 as
the two greatest commandments (Mk 12:29-31). Here are some comments:
In a world filled with noise, it is a sacred duty to listen. We need to
The word "Lord"
(lower case capital letters) represents
the Hebrew name for God, Yahweh (YHWH). Many Jews will not
pronounce the sacred Name, but say, "Lord" (Adonai) instead.
Similarly, English translations of the Hebrew Bible substitute
Lord for the Name when it
is our God.
Literally, "Yahweh [is] our God." This is a pledge of
allegiance to Yahweh alone. When we say the Shema, we are saying
"no" to all false gods and "yes" to Yahweh.
Literally, "Yahweh [is] one." God's unity (oneness) denies that God is
two, a good god and a bad god. It denies there are many deities. It
denies there are powers ultimately beyond God. It affirms one Source and
one Sustainer, and implies one order, one moral law, that all truth is
God's truth—whether from scripture, tradition, science, or experience.
5. You shall
love. Love is more than an emotion, but a commitment to a
relationship. In the Shema, loving God means faithfulness to God
demonstrated by keeping God's commandments.
6. With all
your heart… soul… might. Love must be total. We cannot love God with
our heart, but not our soul. We cannot love God with charitable gifts,
but not with our mind and mouth. Love for God cannot be
compartmentalized, but must be unified and one, just as God is one.