SEEK THE CONTEXT: Biblical Texts, Language, Cultural Background & Meaning. Context Changes Everything!

Looking Deeper into Shema

Looking Deeper into Shema

This article is a drash on Shema. As a drash it is meant to be an inspirational teaching and with some lessons for today. But I cannot inspire anyone with a verse from the Bible properly without explaining what it truly means in context. And that means some serious teaching and digging a little below the surface is necessary. I cannot assume that people who read or hear this share the same understanding of Shema with me, so before I can inspire someone with any words from the Torah, I have to help you see what the Shema means to Jewish people.

Shema is much more than just a passage from the Bible. Yes, it is a biblical quote, but over the years it has become much more than that for Jewish people. In Judaism, it is considered to be a prayer because its words are recited each day. In fact, many Jewish prayers contain portions of Scriptures. For all the misunderstandings and abuse of pre-written prayers, praying God’s own words standing before God is praying according to his will. If they are God’s own words, then they are in his will. Such prayers, if internalized and owned, actually transform the one who prays them. How about that for praying in words which are not your own?

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I am an educator, researcher, a faculty member and an avid believer in online education. My specialties are Sacred Texts and Cultures (Second Temple period, early Judaism and nascent Christianity). I am passionate about meaning, context, and cultural transmission of ancient texts. My preoccupations with history, ancient languages and contextual interpretation often find expression in my blog posts. Every human has a pretext, every message has a context. Context changes everything! Enjoy reading.