Moisés continues talking with the Israelites, promising them that if they obxerve the mitzvot of the Torah, they will prosper in the land that they are about to conquer and in which they will establish themselves, thus fulfilling God´s promise to the patriarchs.
He also reprimands his nation: “You rebelled against God,” he tells them, “since the day that I met you.” Nonetheless, he also talks to them about the Divine pardon and the Second Tablets of the Law that God wrote and that He gave them after repenting.
The 40 years in the desert, Moises tells them, during which God fed them with the daily Maná from the heavens, served to teach them that “man does not live by bread alone, but by the word of God, which is the nourishment of the spirit by which man lives.
Moises describes the land into which they will enter as a land which “flows with milk and honey”, a land blessed by the “seven species” (wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranate, olives and dates) and as a place which is the focus of the Divine Providence in the universe.
A key passage in this section is the second paragraph of the Shema which repeats the fundamental mitzvoth given in the first paragraph, where it describes the compensation for keeping God´s mitzvot; and the adverse results (hunger and exile) for not keeping them.
What is it that the “Shema Israel” really proclaims, and why is it so important?
Far from being a superstition of primitive beings, the weak spirited, or the “intellectually immature”, as some would be led to believe, the proclamation of the existence of a unique God is the affirmation of a reality that we see proven more and more through science.
The essence of the Shema Israel´s proclamation is not simply that there is a unique God, but that in reality there is only one single existence. All that we see is no more (and no less!) than a visible and limited manifestation of the same infinite and universal energy which embraces, defines and transcends us.
This is why the proclamation does not say that God is unique or the only, but that God is “one”. In this sense, all that appears to exist is none other than a single manifestation of that same “one” all embracing being, all that we call “God”.
Shabbat Shalom! ~~~~~~~ Mati
Read the June/July 2015 newsletter from the European Union for Progressive Judaism. Click here to read and download.
Lee Torah from Around the World #284: Parashat Eikev (Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25) By: Rabbi Paul (Shaul) R Feinberg, PhD, Associate Dean, Emeritus and Adjunct Associate Professor of Education, Emeritus; Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Jerusalem, Israel
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