Shema Yisrael (or Sh’ma Yisrael) (“Hear, [O] Israel”) are the first two words of a section of the Torah, and are the title (sometimes shortened to simply “Shema”) of a prayer that serves as a centerpiece of the morning and evening prayer for [observant Jews]…It is traditional for Jews [and has been for thousands of years] to say the Shema as their last words, and for parents to teach their children to say it before they go to sleep at night. (Thanks wiki!)
The Shema serves as a wonderful model for us in terms of how to teach our children. Lois Tverberg, in her book Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus, remarks that Jesus would have learned the Shema as a young child and would have recited it twice daily throughout His life. Jewish children learn these words, as soon as they are capable – even before the age of reading. Praying Shema daily, and accepting its content as Truth, shaped the identity of the Hebrew people, and still does to this day. The Shema is a great model for our memory work. Compare the tradition and cultural importance of Shema with our efforts to instill God’s Word in the hearts and minds of our children:
- Shaping our worldview: hiding God’s Truth in our hearts tells us who we are, and Whose we are…this knowledge changes everything. Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies (1 Cor 6:19-20).
- Providing an understanding of Who God is and what our purpose is: Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God…God is love…We love because He first loved us (1 John 4:7-8, 19).
- Partnering in our parenting: when the Word is implanted, it is both measuring stick and mirror so that children learn to compare their hearts to it and see when they have fallen short of its standard. When children have grasped the Word, the LORD corrects them before we can. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, anddiscerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Heb 4:12).
- Working alongside the Holy Spirit to instruct our hearts: But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you (John 14:26).
- Nurturing spiritual growth toward maturity: All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim 3:16-17).
God’s Word is to be the foundation of our lives. We should learn it with our children; talking of it when we are at home together and when we go about our daily business, from morning till night. And we should demonstrate the presence of the Word in our hearts so that it shapes the work of our hands and stays in the forefront of our minds. Our homes should be marked by the presence of the Word and it should accompany us, wherever we go. Shema = Hearing God’s Word AND Doing it!
Britta ~ I am justAgirl…just like you!