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    Telling the Jews – Va’et’channan

    ShemaThe Shema is part of this week’s Torah reading.

    Paraphrasing a statement of the Anglo-Jewish scholar Israel Abrahams, we can say that the Shema proclaims the major Jewish belief, that God exists and is unique; the major emotion, to love God; the major duty, to speak of God at all times; and the major characteristic, to have homes dedicated to God as symbolised by the mezuzah.

    We do not address the Shema to the world, however, but to our own people – “Listen, Israel, the Lord is our God, the One Lord”. The Shema is a call to every Jew to be a believing and committed Jew.

    It is not that any Jew can be denied their own freedom of conscience, but that being Jewish is more than earthly and ethnic. Being Jewish is spiritual and ethical, not just tribal and national. It’s a distortion to leave God and spirituality out of Judaism.

    It’s hard to be a Jew, but it’s good and fulfilling. It’s hard to lead a religious life, but it’s harder not to.

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