Click here for the commentary by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.
As a young Hebrew school student I was taught that the Shema was the central prayer of Judaism. I’m no longer sure that is correct but it remains my central prayer. The Shema occurs in this parsha as it did in last week’s parsha. Rabbi Sacks notes that for Moses, the word shema is the key word of Deuteronomy.
Hearing or listening is, according to Rabbi Sacks, the key mode for relating to God and other people in Judaism. It is a different way of relating than seeing or observing. It requires intimacy and an active relationship rather than detachment. That we should try to listen or talk to God, and not attempt to visualize God, is a very different way of understanding faith. Listening to others, rather than focusing on solving their problems, is a different way of understanding on how we help or heal.