behind it all
This is the INTRO to a New 5-Part Series on God’s Unity which seeks to rock your world.
Rabbi Yitzchak HaLevi Herzog, the chief rabbi of Palestine under the British mandate, is documented as having saved over 500 Jewish children who had been hidden away in monasteries and convents during the Holocaust. There’s a story told about him — and a similar story about Rabbi Yosef Shlomo Kahaneman — regarding how they would actually find these children who had very little — if any — awareness of being born into Jewish families.
They used an ancient, “Find-My-iPhone” kind of technology: the Shema.
In a loud voice, through the stone-walled corridors, they would recite these six words that had been etched into the hearts and minds of these children over hundreds of bedtimes before being separated from their parents:
“Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad”
“Hear, Israel, Hashem is our God; Hashem is One.”
When the kids would hear these words, they would come running with tears streaming down their cheeks, looking for their parents.
Of course, tragically, their parents were not there to receive them, but someone else, serving in their stead, was.
Perhaps you can relate to having a similar emotional connection with these words. If you have any connection with the Shema, you likely instinctually feel its meaning even if you don’t necessarily feel prepared to give a Torah lecture about it.
Perhaps our innate connection comes from the sensation that the words of the Shema seem to be saying something about us as much as they are making a statement about God.
What do we mean when we speak about One-ness?
When we say “Hashem is One,” our intention is not only to say that there can be no other gods, although this is certainly true.
If there were other “gods,” what kind of “god” has to compete and negotiate with other “gods” in the same pantheon? The very notion of plurality seems to fly in the face of any coherent notion of Divinity.
It also can’t merely mean that God can’t be broken down into parts — something which is also 100% true.
If God was made of different components like a giant supercomputer, it would just beg the same question: Who put the pieces of this Supercomputer together?
All of these statements are true, but the Shema, and the One-ness it speaks of must run deeper…
To get what it’s saying, we must first recognize how we misuse and under-appreciate the word “one.”
If we really took the concept of One seriously, we would realize that:
there can only be one…One.
Multiple “ones” are not truly one.
They are many — counted one by one.
The meditation of the Shema is meant to open our minds and hearts to experience ourselves and everything we know within a single unified reality.
Me. You. Us. Them. Democrats. Republicans. Datiim. Chilonim. Jews. Non-Jews. Sephardim. Ashkenazim. Humans. Animals. Vegetables. Minerals. Earth. Other Planets. The Sun. Other Stars. The Milky Way. Other Galaxies. Yes, even Aliens.
We all exist within the Singular One-ness of All Things.
It may seem sometimes like we live in different dimensions. We may talk sometimes about ourselves, or others, or the world “out there” as if there are separate domains. Silos. Cubicles. Different universes in the multiverse.
Hashem is One.
He — and He alone — is the One-ness that unifies all of us.
Why do I say “He” and not “It?”1
Please permit me to respond with a question back at you:
Why do you refer to an AI bot as “something,” but a human being as “someone?”
Huh…that’s weird. Why are individual people more one than individual objects?
That’s going to take us a few episodes to answer…
Welcome to a new XL journey — a mini-series to explore the fundamental, but poorly understood, mind-blowing concept of U N I T Y.
Make sure you’re subscribed to receive next week’s exciting episode exploring the pursuit of oneness in the universe known as “Science.”
I hope to write about “He” and not “She” another time for those who are sensitive to pronoun use. Kabbalah is sensitive to pronoun use as well.