A Credo to Live By

Deuteronomy 6:1-25

This portion contains one of the most significant passages in all the Torah: “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord in One.” (6:4) This declaration of faith, known as the Shema, has served as the deathbed statement of many a persecuted Jew throughout the centuries. The entire passage emphasizes the importance of our faith in the One True God.

 

Here, Moses instructs the people to love God with all their hearts, all their souls and all their possessions. They should keep these words close to their hearts, teach them to their children, bind them upon their arms and between their eyes, and post them on their doorposts. In fact, these words appear in the phylacteries that Jews tie upon their arms and heads for morning prayers and in the mezzuzahs hung on Jewish doors worldwide.

 

In declaring that God is One, there lies a special message. The Israel Bible explains that using the time-honored Jewish tradition of gematriya, where each Hebrew letter is transposed by a number, the value of the word echad, or one, is 13, equal to that of the word ahava, meaning love. Thus, we are reminded that the single greatest love in the world is the love of the One and Only God for mankind.

 

When they enter the land, Moses tells the Israelites, they will be inheriting homes they did not build, fields they did not plant and cisterns they did not dig. He warns them not to forget the source of all this bounty — God. He is the one that took them out of bondage in Egypt and is bringing them to the land of plenty. One day, Moses says, their children will ask them why they keep the Torah. He tells them to answer it is for the sake of God Who brought the Israelites out of Egypt to serve Him that they do these things.

 

Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think this declaration of faith must be kept on the arm, forehead and doorpost specifically? What is their significance?

Comments ( 9 )

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  • Don Mueller

    This leads to unity with The Creator and each other wherein there is strength. Once they enter the land they proclaim a public oath to hear and obey all that has been commanded them to receive the blessings (and the curses should they fail – last portion speaks to breaking oaths to Him) at Gerizim/Ebal. This corresponds with Proverbs 3:6 to Acknowledge God in all our ways and Ps 119:11 to hide His Word in our hearts. We see in the “new” testament that they were/are “ensamples” for our learning in 1 Cor 10:1-12 (12 a warning against self deception).

  • Hector Zuniga

    Beautiful put the meaning of the word Echad, Meaning ONE, and his numerical representation of 13, which is equal to the word Ahava meaning LOVE.

  • The tefilim are a sign, to HaShem and to the surroundings, with believers, non believers and children, but most of all to Gd. For the mesuzot it is clear a sign for the environment. The phylacteries )containing this part of Scripture', on the arm (the place of doing) and on the forehead symbolic mind (thoughts, will, emotions) but also as a statement to others and to THE OTHER of faithfulness (Gd) and teaching (to the kids)

  • I agree, they are to serve as reminders to us of Yahweh's commandments, much as at the same time they are representative of our how body parts (mind, hands and heart) should function.

  • Diana Brown

    I agree with all these comments. The arm signifies our resolve and strength. The forehead, our mind, will and emotions. The doorposts remind us as we pass over the threshold, going out and coming in, the Lord rests upon His Own who fear His Name and believe in His Oneness and He is in control. So we serve the Lord God in humility and love and reverence for we know our lives and times are in His Hands.

  • Jayne

    Jayne
    I think the declaration of faith must be kept:
    on the arm as a reminder to carry it out,
    on the forehead to be always mindful of it and to use the mind in understanding it,
    and on the doorpost as a reminder of its words every time the person goes on or out.

  • Kimberley

    I believe the significance is as follows; That our declaration of Faith should be in our actions, In our thoughts, thinking on the word of Hashem continuously, and on the door post of our heart having a fervant love for our God Almighty..

  • Herman

    Remember what I, ” , did for you. A nation’s oath wiill be kept by every individual. Remember Hashem’s faithfulness for you !

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