The Shema is both spiritual and enlightening as
The prayer encompasses two of God’s distinctive names; Hashem Elokaynu, (the Lord our God) and Hashem (our Lord and Master).
The two names differ from one another greatly, as Hashem Elokaynu symbolizes a God that is strict, just and true and The name Hashem, on its own, symbolizes a God of mercy and compassion.
Why are the two folds of Gods omnipotence mentioned in the Shema and how important are they?
The Kabbalist tells us that it is imperative that we mention both of Gods attributes in the Shema lest we cease to exist.
If God were to only judge his people through strict justice and truth - none of us would survive. Therefore the “midah” (measure/character) of mercy and compassion is needed to be included thusly God always applies forgiveness.
In the Shema (written in the Hebrew form) we see the first word Shema, written with a large Ayin and the last word of the sentence Echad, written with a large Daled. These two letters spell out ‘witness’, in Hebrew. When completing the verse of the Shema we attest to the oneness and only true God in the universe.
The Shema and the Tabernacle
God created us with the understanding of our fallibility so in order to dwell among us, Moses was ordered to build the first synagogue, The Holy Tabernacle where the Holy Of Holies held the Ten Commandments. God would visit once a year at the Festival Of Yom Hakkipurim. The High Priest would then enter the Holy Of Holies and beseech Our Maker to forgive us based on God’s two names, one of strictness and judgment and the other of kindness and forgiveness, (along with the thirteen atributes of mercy).
The Shema, said with proper intent and full of heart, can change your life and raise us spiritually enabling us to find that spark of the divine that is hidden in each and every one of us.
The repetition of the Shema empowers us up the ladder of spirituality one rung at a time.
For as long as we live as Jews and observe the Torah, our uniqueness, as a people will always be preserved. And although today there is no Holy Temple, we can still retain our national identity by observing the Ten Commandments, repeating the Shema daily and consequently keeping God close to us to guarantee our survival - even when we face extreme obstacles.
The Torah must be our symbol, our guide, our way of life and our motto must be:
Shema Yisrael Hashem Elokaynu Hashem Echad.
“Hear o Israel, the Lord is Our God. The Lord is One.”
The hallmark of our unity is the Shema. The Shema proclaims God’s rule, and Israel’s nationhood and individuality.
Indeed the Torah speaks to us in the immortal words of our most important prayer, Shema Yisrael. Only when these words which “I command thee will be on thy heart” can we hope to attain the most sought for objective of reaching the heavens. Teaching our children and friends must begin with our own actions and the time is now.
Rav Gabriel Elias