We have a beautiful word that we’re commanded to follow every morning and every night. Shema, or Hear. The prayer (or statement really) says, Shema Yisrael! Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad or Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one. It’s one of my favorite parts of each Shabbat service and it starts every day off heading in the right direction. We are commanded to say it, “when you rise up in the morning and when you lie down at night”.
I see the Shema as a call to action, a declaration. If you listen to it during a service, it is one of the loudest moments. All the voices around you join together as everyone covers their eyes and lifts their head to proclaim that the Lord is our God and that God is One. It’s a moving and powerful experience every single time I hear it. The Shma is a unifying call and I am blessed that I can say it each day.
The use of the word Rise in the commandment made me think. The Torah makes a point of telling us to Rise, as opposed to just waking. Like the Shema, the word Rise strikes me as a powerful word. And maybe each day, instead of just waking, we are meant to RISE. Rise to the occasion that is another day of life on this beautiful world given to us by our God. Rise to the call of Torah and all of it’s wisdom. Rise to the daily challenge and love your neighbor as yourself. This world we live in shows it’s scars and wounds every single day. Living in the midst of all that can bring you low and make you numb. Instead, we should Rise to meet it and repair it. Tikkun Olam. Deeper than that though, l’takken olam b’malkhut Shaddai. Perfect the world through God’s sovereignty. Love your neighbor as yourself.
It’s one of the key points of Judaism that brought me eventually to conversion. We are meant to DO instead of simply Be. You can be a good person but it is even more important to DO good things. By BEING good, you are simply not doing bad things. It is our actions impact the world and our actions bring about healing. This is the life that matters because this is the life we are given. The Torah makes a point of not going into details about the life to come. Why? Because THIS is the life that matters. We should do the right things not because of a future reward but instead do them simply because they are right. This is our life and every morning we should Rise.