Ramifications of the Shema
In the previous article we explained the second phrase in the Shema as: “we recognize that the Lord is the only power – and that we pledge to live our lives in light of that recognition”. In this article we will examine some of the ramifications of aligning one’s life to conform to the truth of God’s absolute mastery of all.
One practical ramification of living the truth of the Shema is the sense of trust, security and peace. To the degree that one is aware that there is no power on earth beside God, to that same degree will this person be at peace. The knowledge that no one or no force can harm us or bring us benefit aside from our loving Father removes all false hopes and all false fears from our hearts. The recognition that we are only here as an expression of His love, and that all that we could hope for is completely in His hands, brings us to a complete and total trust in God (Psalm 131:2).
Gratitude, Love and Relationship
Another practical ramification of living the truth of Shema is the development of an attitude of gratitude, love and constant connection with God. As our minds fill with the recognition that all that we possess came to us through God, our hearts fill with boundless gratitude towards the One who gives us all. We learn to feel His love in every breath we take, because we appreciate that each and every breath is a gift from Him. When you live the Shema, every wisp of wind is a caress from your Father, the beauty in your life is a thoughtful gift from God, and you learn to sense His embrace on a constant basis.
Every action that we take as created beings can only be for one of two reasons; either in the hope of gaining pleasure or for the purpose of escaping pain. The pleasure and the pain can occur on many levels; it could be physical, emotional, or spiritual, but this is the motivation behind all of our actions. In order to take an action to gain pleasure or to escape pain we must be convinced that there is a reasonable chance that our action will produce the desired effect. But once it becomes clear to us that God is the only true power, we then know that He is the only one that can grant us pleasure and that He is the only one that can protect us from pain. Once this truth is firmly planted in our minds we come to the realization that disobedience towards God can never give us any benefit or protect us from any pain. Absorbing the truth of the Shema leads to a life of obedience towards God.
The truth of the Shema prevents us from falling into idolatry. The sin of idolatry occurs when we allow our hearts to be lead astray by one of God’s creations. When we see any force or any being that exists inside of God’s creation as a true master of our destiny, or even over one aspect of our destiny, and we are persuaded to submit ourselves to this force, we have committed idolatry. With the truth of the Shema in front of our eyes, we will never make this mistake. The Shema declares that everything that exists is equally subservient to the One all-powerful God. No force and no being can be seen as a true master over any aspect of our destiny. Any force or any being that we can imagine can only be a servant of the One true God because its existence can only be a gift from the One true God.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal