Torah Portion Ekev (Following) D’Varim (Deut.) 7:12-11:25
Haftorah Reading: Yesha’yahu (Isaiah) 49:14-51:3
Tonight I want us to look at a couple of places in this Torah portion to find what we can hear that will help us in our daily walk with the Father. First, I want to draw your attention to my second question of the week. What is the prominent verb we read over and over in the Book of Devarim/Deut.? In verse 9:1 we hear the Shema in Hebrew. I believe we have talked of this word before but I want us to go over it in some depth today. This word appears over 90 times in this book of the Bible. It can be seen as the key to understanding what Moshe is communicating to the people in his last speech before his death. First, I want us to have a clear understanding of the word Shema. In Hebrew it is used to mean “to hear, to listen, to pay attention, to understand to internalize or to respond.” It is the closest word in biblical Hebrew to express the term, “to obey.” Sometimes for us, as part of the western culture, hearing is not something that we do naturally on a deep level. The sense we us most often is seeing. This is a hold over from the Greek influence in our lives. We see this in our language, I see, foresight, hindsight, insight, vision and phrases such as “it appears.” These are only a few of the ways sight dominates our thoughts and language. By contrast Hebrew the world of Moshe and Yeshua was immersed in hearing, really hearing. It was a culture of the ear more than the eye. We read this word “Shema” or one of its derivatives used to express proof of a certain point like, come and hear, hear from this, he could not hear it.
G-d wishes to communicate with us by hearing. In Biblical Hebrew there is no word for obedience. Modern Hebrew borrowed a word from Aramaic to mean obedience. G-d wants us to listen not just with our ears but to let His word penetrate into our deepest being. By doing this we will obey because we will grasp the truth of His word. We will have a deeper understanding of what His desire is for us. We see this expressed in Shemot/Exodus 19:17. Hearing, really hearing will have an impact on how we live, what we do and what we do not do. It will not only be head knowledge it will also be heart knowledge. Hearing is the bridge between us and the Father.
It is also the bridge between us and our fellow man. We relate by hearing what others think and feel. I mean by this, really hearing is when we make the effort to pay attention and take time to listen. When a friend talks to us they deserve our undivided attention, our time. This is a lesson Moshe is trying to get across here to us. We find this over and over in the Messianic Scriptures. Yeshua and the rich young ruler, the woman at the well just to name two. He listened to them and then was able to speak to them in a way that could change their life if they could hear Him. Our challenge is to listen.
Now I want us to look at some verses from our portion concerning this topic. In Devarim/Deut. 10:11-13 we read a summary of what G-d requires of His people. It sounds simple enough. However, when we really listen to what G-d is saying here what do we hear? As an example, I read a short story this week that bears on this issue. This involved a young Yeshiva student in Montreal, Canada. This young man enrolled in school without much background in how to live as a religious Jew in the world today. As the year went on his teachers were amazed at his ability to grasp reading and understanding difficult passages of scripture and commentaries. In a very short time he had mastered both the language and the ability to analyze difficult passages. However, at the end of the year he surprised his teachers by withdrawing from school. When pressed for an explanation he gave the following, “As a secular person I would get up each morning and ask myself how I wished to spend the day. Now, after my year of study, I must get up each morning and ask myself how does G-d want me to spend the day. The pressure is simply to intense for me to deal with.”
This speaks to our topic of listening to G-d. Our faith is not about only doing things, even if they are good things such as praying, studying scripture or whatever. Rather it requires us to listen to the voice of G-d and dedicating everything to a higher calling, from the smallest to the most difficult task of the day. It requires us to realize that as people of G-d we have a higher calling that covers everything we do. We don’t get days off. We are His and we listen, really listen to His voice and it changes us. We revere the L-rd. We walk in His ways. We love Him and serve Him with all our heart and soul.