Mishpatim

In reference to the acceptance of the commandments of Hashem, commentators have thought it rather odd that the children of Israel declared: “Na-aseh venishma”, we will do and we will listen (Exodus 24-7). Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Kotsk said, amongst other things, that it is through doing that we are empowered to hear.

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin quotes the Mishna which provides differences of opinion regarding the meaning of the word “shema”as in the word “nishma”. One sage maintains that it means that each word should be said loudly so that one can hear what one’s mouth is saying. A second maintains that the Shema must be said in a language which the speaker understands. A third view goes one step further. The word “shema” implies internalisation. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch says the word comes from the 2 letter word composed of a “mem”and and an äyin”, which means intestines. The words of Hashem must get into our guts, says Riskin.

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