If the essence of a Jew's devotion to his G-d can be crystallized into a single fervent proclamation, that proclamation is the Shema. Twice a day, every day, we reaffirm our fundamental belief in the unity of our Creator. In reciting the three additional paragraphs, we refer to the mitzvos of tefillin, mezuzah, and tzizit - so much a part of our daily lives - and remember the Exodus from Egypt. We say the Shema before going to sleep, over a baby boy on the night before his brit milah, and before we die. Thus, Shema literally accompanies us from cradle to grave. Lisa Aiken, Ph.D. has taken this prayer - in so many ways a cornerstone of our Divine service - and compiled a comprehensive, well-researched, and beautifully lucid analysis of its role in Jewish life. She explores the basic principles that underlie the Shema and the nature of the unique attachment between God and his chosen people. A breathtaking array of topics emerge as central to the discussion of this significant prayer. Among them, Dr. Aiken has touched upon the world of evil in this world, the tenets of free will, the indelible marks of spirituality, and far-ranging implications for human relationships. As the author explores the breadth of the meaning behind the familiar words, a panorama profound and awe-inspiring unfolds before the reader: a perspective of life and the human condition that flows from the deepest sources in Torah thought.
by Lisa Aiken