Sh’ma Yis’ra’eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad

Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One.

As the Torah scrolls exited the building, the ancient prayer rose in four-part harmony from the lips of a cantorial choir, and the gathered congregation at Temple Beth Hallel. Unaccompanied voices swelled and reverberated with deep resonance: from the richest bass to the sweetest soprano.

A holy moment, the kind you can feel deep in your soul, the kind of moment where the Lord and all the Lord’s greatness bridges the gap between past and present. In that moment, I stood, simultaneously with the church at temple and the children of Israel at the mouth of the promised land. Wilderness bathed in the healing balm of sacred praise, and sorrows soothed away with the gentle whisper of the Lord’s presence in each place.

And, I wished I could stay in the moment forever. I wished I could set up a tent – a temple to the Lord inside the Shema; to be surrounded forever by that sweet, sweet sound, the echo of praise lifted in perfect harmony.

In the tent of my mind, I knelt; face to the ground as the notes continued to swell around me. I closed my eyes and breathed them in.

In the span of a few moments, and yet, a lifetime, I was whole. I was forgiven. I was anointed. I was enough.

For a beautiful, fleeting-yet-never-to-be-forgotten moment in time, there was no anxiety, no panic, no blood sugar disorder, no inferiority complex, no darkness. There was just then. Just Shema. Just me. Just God. Just Mashiach.

And all was right in my world.


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