Wednesday, June 28, 2017

RAV KOOK ON Shlach Part 1: The Third Passage of Shema

Every evening and morning, we say the Shema, Judaism’s supreme declaration of monotheistic faith. In the first passage, we accept upon ourselves the yoke of God’s sovereignty. And in the second, we accept God’s commandments. Interestingly, the Sages added a third paragraph to the Shema — the passage commanding us to wear tzitzit (tassels) on the corners of our garments (Num. 15:37-41). Why did they decide to add this particular paragraph, out of the entire Torah, to the central prayer of Judaism? Six Themes The Talmud in Berachot 12b explains that the passage of tzitzit contains not one, but six major themes: The mitzvah of wearing tzitzit on our garments; The Exodus (“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt”); Accepting the mitzvot (“You will thus remember and keep all of My commandments”); Resisting heresy (“You will not stray after your hearts”); Refraining from immoral and sinful thoughts (“and after your eyes”); Eschewing idolatry (“which have led you astray”). Is there a common motif to these six themes? Most are indeed fundamental concepts of Judaism, but what is so special about the mitzvah of tzitzit, more than the other 612 commandments?

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