The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism as Exemplified in the Shema, the Most Important Passage in the Torah

The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism as Exemplified in the Shema, the Most Important Passage in the Torah

The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism as Exemplified in the Shema, the Most Important Passage in the Torah

The Shema: Spirituality and Law in Judaism as Exemplified in the Shema, the Most Important Passage in the Torah

Excerpt

This work began as a series of lectures given at a Senior Honors Seminar at Yeshiva University's affiliated Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary in 1992-1993. My goal was to teach these budding Jewish scholars what they already knew intuitively. I wanted them to be aware of the vaulting role of spirituality in Judaism and of the complex and mutually fructifying relationships between spirituality and Halakha (Jewish law), using the Shema as a detailed illustration of this phenomenon.

A further purpose of that seminar -- and this book -- was a commentary on the Shema as such. I hoped that some day my students would use this material to convey to many others the ability to recite the Shema in a manner that is spiritually engaging, personally meaningful, and intellectually challenging, and -- for those standing outside the Jewish tradition -- to acquaint them with some of the scope, profundity, grandeur, and relevance of this simple but eloquent statement of Jewish faith in the oneness of God.

I have added material that has accumulated since then, and as is to be expected, different emphases, foci, and style were inevitable. The spoken word and the written word require different treatment and presentation; furthermore, students are graded by the instructor, whereas the author is graded by his readers....

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