A prayer expressing our loyalty to Hashem

  • yonatan landau
Rabbi Lazer Silver was an outstanding Torah scholar and leader.
by Rabbi Yonatan Landau, Ohr Somayach Savoy | Aug 03, 2017

In the aftermath of the Second World War, he embarked on a mission to rescue Jewish children who had been sheltered by monasteries during the war. These children’s parents had only placed them there as a temporary measure, but had been murdered by the Nazis.

Now, owing to tremendous anti-Semitism in Eastern Europe, Rabbi Silver was given an American army uniform for his protection.

He finally reached a monastery and recognised the Jewish children there. The rabbi demanded that the children be allowed to go with him as they were Jewish and their parents would have wanted them to have a Jewish upbringing. The priest, however, refused and challenged the rabbi to merely ask them if they were indeed Jewish.

The children did not admit to their Jewishness, which Rabbi Silver realised was owing to the fact that he was wearing an army uniform. Their parents must have exhorted them never to confide in anyone in uniform owing to the danger of the Nazis. Unfortunately, these orphans could not make the obvious distinction.

Rabbi Silver thought of a way to convince the children that they could now admit their Jewishness freely. He took his hand and placed it over his eyes and cried out, “Shema Yisroel Hashem Eloikeinu Hashem Echod”. The children began crying Mamme, Tatte, Yiddish for mother and father.

Thus, he was able to save them.

In this week’s parsha, we are introduced to a very special and unique prayer called the Shema. Among many pivotal ideas, it expresses our loyalty to Hashem as the One and Only G-d.

It has accompanied us in over 100 countries, from a daily source of strength, to dying last words.

The above story demonstrates that this prayer should not be a mere part of the prayer service, but as an integral part of our education.

Nor should it be restricted to the shul, but instead accompany us on our path of daily life.  


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