A Scribe asked Jesus what was the greatest of the commandments. It is likely that rival temple scholars were holding a debate on this question. Again, it is likely that while one side held for the dominance of strictures on keeping the Sabbath holy, while others were saying that rules governing keeping Kosher were more important.
The Scribe was impressed with the sound religious sense of Our Lord’s answer. Yes, having the right attitude toward God is our chief requirement.
The wording of Lord’s answer was as much a part of Jewish life as the Sign of the Cross is for Catholics.
“Hear, oh Israel, the Lord is God, the Lord alone.”
I once heard that the Hebrew for that went something like this:
“Shmah, Israel, Adonai elohim, Adonai ach-ham.”
The first word, “Shmah” was stronger than “hear.” It was more like, “Shut up, and listen!”
“Israel, meaning “wrestles with God” was a name God gave Jacob after he fought with God at the Jabbok ford. All Jews were descended from Jacob, so they jointly were addressed as Israel.
The Jews were not allowed to utter the name God gave to himself. So, they would substitute “Adonai” a Semitic name for a lord.
“Elohim” was the plural for “el” the generic Semitic word for a god. Our god is like all the gods put together