Learning the Sh'ma #5

Today, we're going to finish (sorta kinda) looking at the Sh'ma prayer. I am not an expert on this. you can find an index of all the 31 Days of Encountering Judaism here.

The last part of the Sh'ma prayer as said in the Reformed congregation I work for anyway, is this:

"Thus you shall remember to observe all My commandments and to be holy to your God. I am Adonai, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God: I am Adonai your God."

I've been translating "Adonai" as "the Lord" in previous installments, by the way.

God brought the Israelites out of Egypt to the promised land; out of slavery into freedom. God frees all of us, and all I have to do is remember that the Lord is my God, and remember to love God with all my heart and soul and might, and be holy to my God.

Yeah, I can do that. Well, at least try really hard to remember and to love.

At least, all this is my perspective. I'm sure if I sat down with a rabbi or some learned Jewish friends, I'd get corrected on several points, but you do remember me saying earlier that I wasn't an expert on this, right?

In any case, I've started to learn the Sh'ma, in Hebrew. I'll let you know how I get along.

Ooh, and one quick learning from "The Shadow of the Temple" before I go: Skarsaune wrote of a hypothesis based on Pliny's report on persecuted Christians and knowledge that in the 1st Century C.E. synagogues introduced the Sh'ma into their worship. The hypothesis being that the Christians also adopted this.

If this hypothesis is true (and I need to do more reading) then I am learning a prayer that the early Christians prayed. Which is pretty dang awesome, in my book.

And then I remembered that one time back in Australia where I attended a Rite 1 service at the Cathedral. There were 10 Commandments in that. So I look up the Episcopal Book of Common Prayer and sure enough, in the Holy Eucharist Rite I there is a place to recite the 10 commandments and then repeat the Jesus phrasing of the first part of the Sh'ma ("You shall love God with all your heart...") with the "and love your neighbor as yourself" bit. So, not the whole Sh'ma, but the beginning, kinda.

Somewhere I have a copy of the first version of the Book of Common Prayer from the 1500s (a reprint, obviously), but haven't been able to lay my hands on it.


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