Clamor in the Dorm
For millennia, the Shema has been prayed every morning and evening by observant Jews, and even at the moment of death. The prayer begins in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 with the declaration, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might.”
Yeshua quotes this passage to identify the first and greatest commandment of the Torah (Matthew 22:37).
This prayer is so embedded in the Hebrew culture, that it was used to identify Jewish children at the end of World War 2. Two American rabbis were asked to join U.S. military forces in liberating the death camps in 1945.
When they learned that Jewish children were being kept in a monastery in Southern France, they went there and requested that the Jewish children be released to them. The priests replied that some of the children had been there since 1939. Unless they had documentation for specific children, they could not release them.
The rabbis said, “Fine. We will return at bedtime, and show you who the Jewish children are.” As the children were being put to bed that night, the rabbis walked up and down the rows of beds in the dormitory, crying out in a loud voice, “Shema Yisra’el! Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad.”
One by one, the Jewish children began raising their hands to cover their eyes. They pointed to each child with a raised hand, and said, “There! That one is ours!”
Like these children, we are known by our response to God’s holy words.
Published April 25, 2017