Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad.
Hear, O Israel, The Eternal is our G!d, The Eternal is One.
The first prayer we teach our children and the last prayer we recite before passing on from this world, said upon waking and sleep, the Shema is the engine of Jewish consciousness.
Yet its esoteric language leaves us riddled with questions: “Hear oh Israel” - why hear rather than know, understand, believe? Who is speaking, and to whom? “Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad.” Why both Divine names, what is the deeper meaning of the repetition, and what is the nature of this oneness?
Our questions will invite us into the mystery of G!d’s oneness and our part in creation, guiding us through ripe layers of meaning, and directing us on a path of awareness and genuine connection to self, G!d, and creation.
In this online course with Nadav Slovin, teacher of text and facilitator of awakened Jewish practice, we will explore each word of the Shema in rich depth, journeying methodologically from its roots in the Torah to its branches in Rabbinic commentary, and ultimately to its fruits in our personal lives.
Throughout, our course weaves together text study and practice. We will be encountering a variety of texts as a group and in pairs, utilizing breakout groups to empower active learning and discussion. The texts range from a deep dive into the verses of Torah, to the Talmud, medieval commentators, Chassidic masters, and modern scholars such as Rav Abraham Isaac Kook, Rabbi Sacks, and Nechama Leibowitz. Embodied practice will support our integration of these teachings into our bodies and lives, including meditation, writing, movement, and art.
All texts are provided with clear line-by-line translations, and no prior knowledge or experience with the subject matter is necessary. This course is open to novices and advanced learners of all backgrounds and orientations.
How does it work?
The course consists of six recorded sessions, of approximately 1.25 hours each. Participants are invited to enjoy the recordings at your own convenience.
Registrants gain lifetime access to all the course materials, including the recordings of every class.
Sessions consist of close study of texts interspersed with guided practices that will support personal growth and spiritual encounter alongside our learning.
Each session includes:
1) A recorded class.
2) Guided personal practice.
3) A printable handout of relevant texts from Biblical, Rabbinic, Kabbalistic and Chassidic sources, provided in full translation with introductory comments and guiding questions.
The Six Sessions
We will be studying the first two lines of the Shema prayer in great depth. Our prayer, the chant that has accompanied our people throughout the generations, is hardly linear. It is a journey, an invitation to partake in a process that began in the creation of the world and will conclude in the days to come, the days of full revelation. We will enter through the portal of its opening cry:
1. Shema (Hear), and proceed to explore on a circuitous route through the first pasuk -
2. Echad (One)
3. Adonai Eloheinu (The Eternal our G!d)
4. Adonai (The Eternal)
5. Yisrael (Israel), ultimately concluding on the whisper that follows -
6. Baruch Shem Kevod Malchuto L’Olam Va’ed
(Blessed be the Name of His glorious sovereignty forever and all time).
1) Shema (Hear): What is unique about the faculty of hearing? Is it truly within our human capacity to hear the word of G!d? How might we cultivate a listening ear and an open heart?
2) Echad (One): Written in bold, the Torah calls us to our pasuk’s conclusion: One. The essential descriptor of our G!d. What is the deeper meaning of our proclamation? Our exploration will serve as a guiding light into genuine personal growth throughout our course.
3) Adonai Eloheinu (The Eternal our G!d): If our goal is to proclaim G!d’s oneness, why include multiple names? What aspects of G!d are indicated by the names encountered in Shema, and what is the union that we seek to bring and perceive through our chant?
4) Adonai (The Eternal): Despite our progress, mystery remains. Why repeat Adonai? The repetition demands that the repetitive names are not identical and static but point to a process. What does it mean for G!d to go through a process, and what is its catalyst?
5) Yisrael (Israel): Within the grandeur of the Shema's theological poetry, reaching beyond all galaxies and stars, stands a simple being: Yisrael. Our forefather Jacob, our people Israel. What is our role in all this?
6) Baruch Shem Kevod Malchuto L’Olam Va’ed. A whisper. (Blessed be the Name of His glorious sovereignty forever and all time). Mysterious and secretive, these powerful words draw the nourishing waters of the Shema into our lives, offering a patient and healthy path towards achieving our ultimate dreams.
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