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    Beginnings of the Shema – Vayyetzei

    A sentence in this week’s Torah reading gives us a lead-in to the Shema.

    Jacob says, “If I come home safely, then HaShem will be my God” (Gen. 28:21). He is proclaiming that if he comes home in peace, that will show that HaShem was with him.

    The words, “HaShem will be my God” are taken up years later when the Shema says, “Hear, O Israel (Jacob’s other name), HaShem is our God”.

    Why is the Shema so important? These are the nine things it says:

    1. HaShem is the only reality.
    2. We call upon the people of Israel (and mankind) to acclaim Him.
    3. He is, and His existence is the great axiom.
    4. He is our God, the Maker, the Ruler, the Giver of Meaning.
    5. He is One – incomparable and unique.
    6. As He loves us, we must love Him with all that we are and all that we have.
    7. We must take Him to heart, i.e. seriously.
    8. We must speak about Him at all times and places.
    9. We must align our will with His.

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