Can I pray the following and mean it?
"Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up. Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead: inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."
Don't have kids, so am off the hook on the first part. Check. :)
As for the rest of this part of the Sh'ma, I feel like I don't have to read it literally. Moses (and God) don't want us to ever ever ever ever EVER forget these two instructions of knowing the Lord is our God and is one, and to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, souls and might.
And if that means, repeating the Sh'ma all the time, at home or away, waking or about to fall asleep, so be it. And if there's a chance that one will forget even then: put it on one's hand and forehead and on the doorposts of one's house.
In other words, really really really really remember this at all times. No matter what.
It's a challenge and I may have to do something about writing it on my bathroom mirror so I see it when I look into it (which is not how Orthodox Jews do it) if I start to forget it.
But that reminds me of the time I was waiting in San Diego airport to fly somewhere, and this young man puts on his prayer shawl and starts wrapping this leather strap around his arm and bound a little box to his forehead. I had absolutely no idea what he was doing at the time but found it fascinating to observe.
And now I know, he was reciting the Sh'ma.
One more part to the Sh'ma to go and I'll write about that tomorrow.
PS. This isn't really about Judaism, but I highly recommend the guest post over on Rachel Held Evans' blog called: "Ask an Interfaith Couple..." Mainly because part of their answer struck me now that I'm working outside my faith zone as it were:
Most of us tend to operate solely within the isolation of our faith communities (this is totally normal and understandable). But in that isolation we tend not to ask tough questions of ourselves, our beliefs, and our traditions. Getting to know someone for whom faith looks differently helps us take the first step out of the comfort zones of the faith communities and the traditions we know and cherish. It’s along these edges that we can most experience spiritual growth, because we’re doing the hard work of asking ourselves, what do I believe? What does my religion espouse? What does my scripture actually say?I'm hoping that is what is and will be happening with me.