AND YOU SHALL LOVE
Sh’ma, Yisra’el! Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai echad. (Deuteronomy 6:4)
“Hear, Israel! Adonai is our God, Adonai is One.” This is a biblical prayer every Jew is encouraged to recite every morning upon rising and every evening before going to bed. Why? What is its purpose?
Ancient rabbis also asked that question and their answer may sound a little disconnected from the prayer itself. In the Mishna, tractate Berakhot 2:5, we are told, reciting the Shema allows us to reaffirm our commitment to the One True God. In essence, each time we recite the Shema, we receive the Kingdom of Heaven.
Well, that is fine for Jews, like me, but what does it say to Gentile believers, who have little or no connection with Torah? First, let me be clear; as we have learned in Matthew 5, beginning with verse 17, the Torah commands have not been abolished nor abandoned by Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, by Rav Sha’ul, the Apostle Paul, or any other Apostle. Let’s take another look at a few of these verses: Don’t think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete.Yes indeed! I tell you that until heaven and earth pass away, not so much as a yud or a stroke will pass from the Torah — not until everything that must happen has happened. (Matthew 5:17,18) Notice very carefully that the phrase “not until everything that must happen has happened” refers to the passing of heaven and earth, not the death and resurrection of Adonai Yeshua. So, every Gentile believer is part of Israel and shares in the promises and the inheritance God promised the Jewish people, throughout Torah and the Prophets.
However, there is more to the Sh’ma, than meets the eye. In Hebrew, the verb Shema means not only ‘listen’ but carries with it the command ‘to obey’. Thus, Sh’ma Yisrael means ‘Listen Israel and obey’. We are to listen and obey God, as we have received His commands in His Word, the Bible.
Immediately following the Sh’ma, we find the command to obey more fully spelled out to us, in the V’ahavta, ‘And you shall love’. Here we have the most important command given throughout the Bible – Love. Love for God and love for our neighbours is paramount in God’s universe. As we are told in Scripture, notably in 1 Corinthians 13, if we do not have love, then all our actions are nothing more than resounding gongs or clanging cymbals. And it is in the V’ahavta we begin to understand that love is an action and not merely a feeling. And this is particularly true regarding agape love, God’s Love.
Most of us understand love to be a warm feeling within us, towards one or more people. That, beloved, is not love. That originates in lust and can emerge into love, given time. True love is stepping forward and giving yourself to help others who require that help – the poor, the bereaved, the widow/widower, the orphan and a host of others who are engulfed in some form of pain and suffering. Believe me, there is no lack of such need. These actions speak more of love than any soft, clingy words on a card or softly spoken into someone’s ear.
When we do step forward, offering ourselves to help those in need, we are showing agape love, the love God wishes us to show and the love He shows us every day. Have you shown any agape love, today?
CONSIDER: When was the last time you deliberately gave of your time and effort to assist another in their time of need? How do you consider this – as a weakness or as a strength?
ACTION: When you are able, I urge you to propel yourself in the needs of others, providing help, in a humble and truly self-giving way. You will know, very quickly, this is what God wishes you to do – to show agape love.
PRAYER: Abba B’Shamayim, Heavenly Father, we are all Your children and we know how much You love us. I pray, Abba, for Your discernment and wisdom, that we may know the love You have for all of us. I also ask that You allow us to know and display the love you give to each of us. B’Shem Adonai Yeshua, Mashichainu, Amen.
May the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you fully and richly.
 The Mishna is an ancient commentary on Torah, God’s life instructions for His children. It was passed down by mouth for many generations until written down around 200 CE. by Judah haNasi.