"Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is Lord alone."

Jesus told the scribe that the first commandment is “Hear, O Israel, The Lord our God is Lord alone.” That is the most important of Jewish prayers. It is the first prayer taught children. It is the prayer a devout Jew says with his dying breath.

In Hebrew it goes something like this: “Shema, Yisrael, Adonai elohim, Adonai Ehad.

While our English translation begins with the call “Hear!” the Hebrew Shema is more like, “Shut up, and listen.”

While the prayer twice refers to God at the Lord, our translation of the Hebrew Adonai that is not what
is written in the verse from Deuteronomy, Chapter Six. What is written there is Yahweh. The Jews, fearful of using that sacred name wrongly, substitute for it the word Adonai, which was just an all-purpose word for a Lord.

It would not hurt us to practice the Jewish words that Jesus called the most important of all.  “Shema, Yisrael, Adonai elohim, Adonai Ehad.”  You can be sure you have it wrong, but you can always excuse yourself by saying, “With God it is the effort that counts.”

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