The Message of the Shema, Part Two: The Jewish Love Story

In the previous article, we explained that there are two "perspectives" of reality. There is Our Perspective—coming from within the world of multiplicity; and there is God's "Perspective"—stemming from beyond the world of multiplicity.

Looking at things from the Infinite God's "perspective," it is clear that all is God. If Infinite means beyond the limits of finite existence, then even the finite is included within, and as an aspect of, the Infinite. This is what we mean when we say that God is One—we are not saying that God is one, as opposed to two, three, and four. Rather, we are saying that God is beyond the concept of numbers altogether. Thus, there is no entity independent from the Infinite—all is contained within, and as an aspect of, God, including the finite itself.

This is the message and function of the Shema—the classic Jewish mantra and motto. It is the declaration of the One Infinite Being as all there is.

However, there is, as we have mentioned, another perspective—Our Perspective. Although not "as" true as God's Perspective, Our Perspective is a true perspective nonetheless. Since it does exist on our level, Our Perspective is a level of truth despite not being the truth of all truths.

Our Perspective is based on the limited degree by which we see God in our world of multiplicity. It is the extent to which we become God-conscious even though things are not clear. Of course, Our Perspective is not as true or as real as God's Perspective but it is a level of awareness nonetheless. In a sense, Our Perspective is its own world. It is seemingly a world unto itself.

A New World
As mentioned, what we mean by the creation of a world, first and foremost, is the creation of an "other." A world, therefore, can refer to a perceiver—a level of consciousness or angle of observation. That is, Kabbalistically, a world connotes a state of mind, similar to how we might say that, although two people are sitting right next to each other, they are in different "worlds."

It is to this imperfect but unique perception of ours that we refer when we say "Blessed is the Glorified Name of His kingdom forever and ever" following the Shema. In this statement, we are declaring the oneness of God in the world as perceived by us. Thus, it is an imperfect but real level of God-clarity that we are yearning to constantly increase by enacting our soul-side to do Godly and goodly here in this world of non-God-clarity, thereby advancing, on an ongoing basis, the manifestation of God as all there is in this world.

Perhaps this is why we cover our eyes when saying the Shema, and say "Blessed is the Glorified Name" in a whisper. While it is true that Our Perspective is a real level of perception, it is not the highest level of perception. In fact, it is an insult to the highest level of perception. So we cover our eyes because what we see, sense, and initially perceive (i.e., multiplicity), contradicts the higher, realer message of the Shema (i.e., oneness).

However, we are also meant to deal with the reality in which we live, to work with our imperfect perception and be constantly striving to grow in our God-consciousness. For this we say, "Blessed is the Glorified Name," but we say it in a whisper since it is a slight toward the higher, truer perception of God's Perspective.

Perhaps this is why on Yom Kippur, the time when we "touch" the level of angels according to Judaism, we say, "Blessed is the Glorified Name" aloud, since it is on that day when the clarity of perception we achieve is of another "world."

The Jewish Love Story
Once we acknowledge the Infinite Oneness beyond the fragmented multiplicity of our world, we now move to live it. We constantly commit our inclinations, our selves, our possessions, and our persona to living that reality with clarity and joy.

This is the love story of Judaism.

To live the reality that, while we are other than God, we are one with God.

Just as anyone in a love relationship feels that they are one with their beloved while existing separate from their beloved, it is that dynamic of internal oneness yet external separateness that leads to the ever-increasing love experience in our relationship with God.

Match Made In Heaven
This is the concept of our heavenly marriage document, the Torah. Just as, according to Judaism, a Jewish marriage document brings together and unites two Jewish souls as one, so too, the Torah brings together and unites us with God. And, just as, to the extent one observes the obligations to one's spouse as outlined in a Jewish marriage document he or she will bring forth and actualize his or her spousal relationship, so too, to the extent one observes the obligations to God as outlined in the Torah he or she will bring forth and actualize his or her relationship with God.

6/8/2011 4:00:00 AM
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    About Eliyahu Yaakov
    Rabbi Eliyahu Yaakov is a sought after international speaker on Kabbalah, relationships, parenting, and life. His newly released book, Jewish By Choice: A Kabbalistic Take on Life & Judaism, recently hit #1 on Amazon's Best Seller list.