Comments, Thoughts and Trivia
37 Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 38 ?Speak to the children of Israel: Tell them to make tassels on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to put a blue thread in the tassels of the corners. 39 And you shall have the tassel, that you may look upon it and remember all the commandments of the Lord and do them, and that you may not follow the harlotry to which your own heart and your own eyes are inclined, 40 and that you may remember and do all My commandments, and be holy for your God. 41 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, to be your God: I am the Lord your God.?
The Shema is properly Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and 11:13-21 along with Numbers 15:37-41. These verses were recorded upon very small scrolls. These scrolls are then placed in small boxes (phylacteries) that are connected to leather straps. Two such boxes are used. During prayer, one set of straps is used to tie the boxes onto the left arm so that the box sits parallel to the heart and the straps end by being wrapped around ones fingers. The other is tied to the forehead so that the box sits between ones eyes. The practice is based upon a literal interpretation of the first part of the Shema.
4 "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. 6 "And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. NKJV
- And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. -- in a box strapped to the left arm
- You shall bind them as a sign on your hand -- the straps around the fingers
- They shall be as frontlets between your eyes -- the phylactery strapped to the forehead
- You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates -- yes, the religious Jews do this as well!
Starting to get the picture? Symbolically, the Jews have the Word of God in their mouth and hearts. But, notice v5. When the lawyer comes to Jesus and asks about the greatest commandment, this is the verse Jesus quotes (Matt 22:36; Mark 12:29)!
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.
If the Jews had paid more attention to this verse, and offered less concern to the details of “working” the Shema, they might have clearly seen God in Jesus. As it was, and is, today, 2,000 years after Jesus and 3500 years after Moses penned the words, the pious Jew still wraps leather straps and boxes around their arm and head when he prays.