Creating a “Sh’ma Consciousness” All the Time! (13a-13b)

We are still wresting with when to say the Sh’ma. It’s not just an academic question although the academic question is good “brain exercise”.

The question, it seems to me is this: how often and when should one acknowledge the Oneness of everything. The Sh’ma itself suggests a rather startling option, (although not explicitly discussed in the text!) namely that we recite the Sh’ma ALL THE TIME — when we sit in our houses, when we walk on the path, when we lie down, and when we rise up. I’m thinking that the Rabbis knew that to suggest ALL the time would be an impossible goal.

Nonetheless imagine keeping in our mind and our hearts the Oneness and interconnectedness of everything at all times, perhaps as a second parallel consciousness. This may not be what the Rabbis had in mind but it is what I think about when I study this text. And that’s not academic.

Today’s daf also addresses the issue of interruptions. When is it appropriate to interrupt or be interrupted?  The issues are ones of “honor” and “fear”. It’s always a judgement call and perhaps best to let honor take the lead. Honor oneself and the other by being flexible – interruptable and interrupting at the right times. But when are the right times? Hmmm. We have circled back onto another iteration of our basic question! When?

Finally – a note to our readers. There are two voices here – Neil Litt and Eleni Litt. Each of us writes one post per daf and we also comment on each other frequently. Our posts are identifiable as our names appear next to the post. Join us! We’d like to keep this going for seven and a half years!

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2 Responses to Creating a “Sh’ma Consciousness” All the Time! (13a-13b)

  1. neillitt says:

    Your post encouraged me to think further about the relationship of the interruptor to the interruptee. Presumably, the interruptor can see that the interruptee is engaged in prayer, staring intently at the text or perhaps covering his eyes, and yet he interrupts! Surely, in the world of the Talmud, this is a major transgression. And yet, for the interruptee, there is clearly risk in not responding. (Fear is cited as a principle extenuating circumstance for responding rather than continuing recitation of the Shema.) My own interruptions, which come from a place of enthusiastic engagement in our study, are tame by comparison. There is something sinister behind this daf.

  2. elenizl says:

    Maybe not sinister but perhaps coming from a place of magical thinking where prayer needs to be done in such and such a way to be effective so that “failure” (however defined) can be attributed to not doing it the “right” way.

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