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    Shema comes twice – Va’et’channan

    shema-e1322485239744Sh’ma Yisra’el – “Hear, O Israel” – comes twice in this week’s reading – Deut. 5:1 and 6:4. The second instance is the famous one.

    The first passage is Moses announcing the Ten Commandments: “Hear, O Israel, the statutes and the ordinances…” In this Sh’ma, God has a message for Israel: “This is who I am, this is what I require”.

    In the second Sh’ma, Israel hears how to respond, by loving God with heart, soul and might.

    Such is the eternal encounter between God and Israel. They speak to each other, they respond to one another. Such too is the way that human beings should conduct themselves – talking when appropriate, listening constantly.

    The problem is that we sometimes talk too much and don’t listen. And the other way around: sometimes we sit passively, hear what is happening around us – and don’t open our mouths, whether to praise or to protest.

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