Commentary from Siddur Eit Ratzon
Translation & interpretation by Cantor Jordan S Franzel
שְׁמַע יִשְֹרָאֵל יהוה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יהוה אֶחָד:
בָּרוּךְ שֵׁם כְּבוֹד מַלְכוּתוֹ לְעוֹלָם וָעֶד:
You need to know my beloved child, that now, at the time that you are saying the Sh’ma, you are fulfilling a positive commandment [you shall], and if you focus on the meaning of the words you will make a great unification with all the worlds [center yourself], and you will draw upon yourself a healing of the soul and a healing of the body, and all your sins will be forgiven [you will be released from judgement & negativity], for the status of the one who merits to say the Sh’ma is above everything. On this all the Jews depend, that one merits to unify the Blessed One [to be unified with the Creator] in the world, and only for this sake was the purpose of humans being created. And the holy sages said, (TALMUD – B’rachot 6a)
The Holy One of Blessing, said to Israel: You have made me a unique entity in the world, and I shall make you a unique entity in the world.
You have made me a unique entity in the world,’ as it is said: Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.
‘And I shall make you a unique entity in the world,’ as it is said: And who is like Your people Israel, a nation one in the earth.
and it’s said in Chronicles 1,
And who is like Your people Israel, one nation in the world, whom God went to redeem for God’s self [as] a people, to make You a name of great and fearful things, to drive nations from before Your people, whom You redeemed from Egypt.
For at the time that a human is saying the Sh’ma, he “rules” over himself, and the whole entire world, the truth of the Creator’s blessed existence. This is considered a unification of יהוה – YHVH [the four letters of God’s ineffable name.] And when a human says, “Understand, Israel, the Lord (YHVH) is our God, the Lord (YHVH) is One,” and he focuses on absorbing himself completely into the [spiritual] light of the EiYN SOF [merging with the light of the Infinite], a supernal unification is made with all the upper worlds [a true connection is made between body, heart, mind, and soul].
And when one says, “Blessed is the name of His glorious Kingdom forever”, and concentrates on how the whole entire world is the blessed אין סוף – EiYN SOF [literally ‘no end’ or ‘infinite’] and is clothed in this garment [the universe] it can appear to the eyes that the inanimate, vegetative, animal, and human are the garments for the EiYN SOF. As a result a lower unification is made with all that is created. That is, one perceives that everything is entirely divinity. And this unification that is above and below needs to be made by everyone every day. This is the awareness of both the upper and lower levels [of reality]. The secret of the phrase “איה מקום כבודו – Ayei makom k’vodo – where is the place of His glory?” is the upper unification. The secret of the phrase “מלא כל הארץ כבודו – M’lo chol ha-aretz k’vodo – the fullness of all the Earth is His glory,” is the lower unification.
And this is the secret of the 248 words that are in the recitation of the Sh’ma that are parallel to the 248 positive commandments that are in the Torah. By means of them we can perceive and know the blessed Creator. This is the essence of compassion in this world, that a human is compassionate over themselves, and that illuminated in his consciousness is [the idea] that there is no existence other than Him at all, and each and every thing is completely divinity. When a person is illuminated in his consciousness with this illumination, he is then called ‘ADaM – Human’.
For this is the principle of compassion – to enter into oneself the truth of the Creator’s blessed existence. This is the general point of the 248 positive commandments in the Torah, that each commandment is a conduit that channels to the human light, radiance, vitality, and connection to the blessed Creator. And when one fulfills the 248 positive commandments, he is called ADaM (human) as it says, “ZOT HaTORaH ADaM – this is the Torah: a Human.” If not, God forbid, he is only an animal in the image of a human. For [the word] ADaM is related to the phrase, “EDaMeH L’ELYON – I will conceptualize the Supernal,” And so, the principle of the recitation of the Sh’ma is connecting to the Blessed Creator; to perpetually connect to the Infinite.
And this is the principle of compassion – to strive to have the world populated by the children of ADaM. And therefore the recitation of the Sh’ma, that is the revelation of blessed Divinity, is the principle of compassion. Therefore it has in it רמ׳ח RM”Ch (248) words parallel to the 248 positive commandments, that they are parallel to the 248 limbs and therefore the word רח׳ם RaCheiM (compassion) is composed of the letters RM”Ch.
When a human is self-compassionate and says the Sh’ma everyday she draws upon herself a complete healing with each and every one of her limbs. As they say (Zohar Chadash) anyone who says the Sh’ma properly with precision, word by word, influences [משפע – sheds spiritual light on] every organ and limb. Therefore one needs to be very precise in the recitation of the Sh’ma. By doing so, one brings upon oneself a complete healing.
And the sages say, anyone who says the Sh’ma and is punctilious in saying its letters, ‘cools for him, גֵהִינֹם – Gehinom’(Hell).’ And Gehinom [is experienced] when the negative inclinations of adultery, denial, and apostasy burn within him. Therefore the rabbis tell us, when negativity overpowers a person, they should say, “Understand, Israel, the Lord (YHVH) is our God, the Lord (YHVH) is One: Blessed is the name of His glorious Kingdom forever,” with copious tears. By means of this, he will merit to purify the source [brain] of his thoughts and will merit to shape the light into goodness.
And in truth, every Jew needs to cry out to the Blessed One every day with copious tears at the time that she says the Sh’ma for then, a unification is made with all the worlds [body,heart, mind, and soul]. And when a person doesn’t merit, in particular, when many of his actions are misguided, in damaging the “covenant” – the spilling of seed [actions that don’t result in spiritual growth], this causes difficulty and doubt of God to arise in his heart. And thus, his heart is twisted in distortions and is shattered completely. And anyone who has a problem, who doubts the righteous and those who revere God, and begins to speak of all forbidden things, this may ruin all holy faith. For the time that a person spends with a true righteous person, and clings to the blessed one with a true connection and receives his words, then he has a good hope to return to faith in the Blessed One. For the purpose of faith is to be equalized and nullified into the Blessed EiYN SOF. This is only accomplished by means of closeness to the righteous and listening to their voices and receiving their advice. And then certainly, one comes to a clear and pure faith in the Blessed One.
END OF PART ONE