Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Listen, Israel!

Every night I say the Shema with Chamudi. We've done this nearly every night since he was born, which probably makes it the most sustained instance of formal prayer in my life, ever.

Saying the Shema is the last thing I do before I put Chamudi to bed. He finally begins to relax and give into the quiet of the evening as we cover our eyes and begin...

Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad

Some nights its incredibly rote. I'll get to the end of the prayer and not even remember the middle. But on others I really try to think about the words that I'm saying.

That's when I realize that I'm being educated too. The way I see it the Shema is really kind of a guide to being a Jewish parent. It gives us the ultimate example of unconditional love (with all your heart and with your soul and with all your might). It teaches us to be consistent role models of committed Jewish living, wherever we are and whatever we do (in your home, as you go on the way). To place reminders of our Judaism all around us (on our hands, between our eyes). It reminds us, most importantly, to teach it to our children, lest the chain end with us.

And so, in those last moments of the day as we cuddle on the rocking chair and sing our Shema together, perhaps we are teaching each other.

5 comments:

Phyllis Sommer said...

...and someday he will start to say it with you or back to you or on his own...and that will be an amazing feeling too.

ilanadavita said...

Nice post! I loved evening prayers with the family when I was a kid, although it did not happen very often.

Gluckel of Manhattan said...

So perhaps you can offer me some advice. My son is now 3 1/3 (as he likes to say) and refuses to sing the Shma with us. He whines and sometimes freaks out when we sing it or evenjust say the words. We think that it is because it is a signal that bedtime is reallyhere, but not sure. My husband insists that we say it, but I've been trying to substitute some other prayers (Oseh Shalom? etc.) in its place. Any words of advice?? I am not giving up!

mamamia said...

gluckel of manhattan - my three-year old has been through a similar phase. I think you are right that it signals bedtime. When he would protest, I would just say it quickly for him and have that be that.
now we are in a difft phase with it - he now insists on it like never before because he believes that it will help him not have bad dreams, which he has been having a lot of...
so everything passes, I guess.

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