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    Saying the Shema – Vayyiggash

    Gen. 46:29 tells us that when Jacob met up again with his son Joseph after many years apart, they embraced and (according to the sages) Joseph said the Shema.

    The Shema is a declaration of God’s existence, unity and uniqueness. It begins, Shema Yisra’el – “Hear, O Israel”. Since Israel is one of the names of Jacob, the Shema is in the first instance an announcement addressed to Jacob. It not only tells the patriarch that his son believes in God but that he loves the Almighty, fulfilling the command, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and might!”

    How does one love God? The Hebrew word for love is said to derive from a root that means to give. God loves us by giving us a wondrous world; we love God, not by giving Him a world but giving Him the worldly gifts of sacrifices and offerings.

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