I have an email service known as the Daily D’var with notes on the daily Torah (Chumash) readings and readings from the Gospels and Acts. A community of about 120 people receive them at present. If we pass 200, I’ll have to use some type of email service and quit using Apple Mail.
But I believe very much in the value of reading daily. Chumash (the five books of Moses, Torah) is the obvious choice from the Hebrew Bible. It is the foundation of the Bible (all biblical ideas are tied to something in the Chumash), of Judaism, and in ways that few recognize, of Christianity. The Gospels and Acts are the logical choice from the New Testament. Paul’s letters have gotten inordinate attention to the detriment of the gospel. The apostles used the term besorah or the Greek evangelion (good news, later English coined the term gospel from “God spell”) for the life of Yeshua. The stories of his life are good news, light, and life for us.
Today’s Chumash notes are about the central text of the Chumash, Judaism, and Christianity: the Shema and V’Ahavta (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). If you’d like to sign up to receive the Daily D’var by email, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shema (4), V’Ahavta (5), teach these (6-7), bind them on your person and your dwelling (8-9), do not forget in the time of blessing (10-13), revere only the Lord (14-15), keep covenant so your enemies will be driven out (16-19), a haggadah for the children (20-25).
NOTES: Vs. 4 is, of course, the central verse of Judaism. It epitomizes the ambiguity and difficulty, however, of translating ancient concepts from ancient languages into modern contexts. There are two main translation possibilities and several possible meanings for the Shema. Should it be rendered “the Lord is one” or “the Lord alone”? Tigay points out that Zechariah 14:9 plays on the Shema with the relational understanding (“the Lord alone”) speaking of a day when all idols will be discredited and the worship of the Lord will be unified. But this does not indicate that Zechariah was limiting the interpretation of the Shema to the relational aspect. It is likely that the meaning of the Shema encompasses all of these: relational (to be Israel’s sole deity), uniqueness (the Lord is incomparable), singular (the only deity), and unity (all goodness and power are unified in his being). The Shema is pivotally placed, being the beginning of an exposition of the first commandment. Its importance within Deuteronomy stands out, along with its following verse about loving God. Vss. 4-5 make up the heart of Judaism: profound reflection and daily devotion to the concepts of the Lord’s uniqueness, incomparability, relation to his children, and loveliness.