Friday, December 9, 2011

Shema Israel: Pasuq 3: "Words and the heart"

In previous weeks we've learned from Verse One the principles of Jewish faith (see here) and from Verse Two our duty to love our God (see here). Today we will analyze Verse Three. 

 "And these words which I command you this day, shall be upon your heart".

The words which are to be upon our hearts are the words: "You shall love HaShem your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might."

What does it mean: "that these words should be over the heart"? It means that love for God must rule over our hearts and shape our conduct. Merely saying 'with words' that we love Him is not enough. Our actions, what we do, must prove our words and feelings. Same as in a relation between husband and wife, feelings only count when they are expressed by compatible actions.   When our words conflict with our deeds, what count is our deeds. Children know this better than anyone else. They are the best polygraphs! They don't listen to what parents say: the see what we parents do.  We don't need words to transmit religious values to our children. They will not necessarily follow our preaching, but they will surely imitate our doing.

These words... should be over the heart... Loving haShem with ALL our heart means that we should avoid wrong thoughts--like excessive material ambitions-- and wrong feelings--like jealousy or hatred-- to take over our heart. Wicked thoughts and wrong values drive love for God out of our hearts. So, even when we cannot help wrong thoughts and negative feelings coming to our heart, we can, and must, prevent them remaining in our hearts.
(Adapted from R. Hayim Pereira-Mendes: "Jewish Religion Ethically Presented")

Shabbat Shalom!

Candle lighting in NYC: 4.10 PM

Shabbat ends in NYC: 5:18 PM