Listen Up, People!

Get your SKINNY on in less time than it takes to fast forward through all the commercials on NBC’s Olympic coverage.


(the pitch)

Moses continued his retirement speech this week, which consisted of retelling the highlights and lowlights of our peeps in the Torah. The reading is called Va’etchanan (break it down: vah-et- ch-ah-naan), which means And I pleaded because it starts out with Moses begging God to let him into the Land of Israel. God refused, but allowed him to see the land from a mountain top. Undismayed, Moses then reminded our peeps of our exodus from slavery in Egypt and the giving of the Torah on Mt. Sinai. (If you’re dismayed, read this SKINNY and this one too.) Moses then foreshadowed that future generations would turn away from God, worship idols, get exiled from the land, and be scattered among other nations throughout the world. (Creepy, right?) But, Moses also predicted we’d eventually get bored with our partying ways, seek out God, and return to living a purposeful life. Perhaps as a protective measure, Moses then repeated the Ten Commandments and recited a passage declaring the fundamental beliefs of the Jewish faith: the unity of God, observing mitzvot (meets-vote) – commandments – and studying Torah.


(the over think)

The passage Moses recited that declares the fundamental beliefs of Judaism is called Shema (sh’-mah) Yisrael (yis-rah-el), which means Listen Israel! The Shema is the oldest daily prayer in Judaism. The full prayer is actually a mashup of three passages from the Torah. The first passage is from this week’s Torah reading, the second comes from next week’s (Deuteronomy 11:13 - 21), and the third is from the book of Numbers that we just finished reading (Numbers 15:37 - 41). It’s a custom to cover our eyes with one hand while reciting the Shema so we can focus on the words with intention.


(to be in-the-know)

The first verse of the Shema is almost universally known by most Jews: Shema Yisrael, Adonai, Eloheinu, Adonai Echad (Sh’-mah Yis-rah-el, Ah-doe-nigh, El-oh-hey-noo, Ah-doe-nigh, Eh-ch-odd). The verse is traditionally translated as: Hear O’ Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One

Team SKINNY’s translation: Listen up, People! Don’t sleepwalk through life! Live with purpose and meaning!


(bookmark. reflect. share)

The second verse of the Shema states: “You shall LOVE God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might (or read: LOVE your friends, family, fellow humans…). Team SKINNY is all about LOVE this week. The Jewish-version of Valentine’s Day starts at sundown on Thursday, August 18th. It’s called Tu B’Av (too-b’-ahv), which translates to the 15th day of the month of Av and that’s the day it’s celebrated on the Jewish calendar. Make a resy on OpenTable. Call an Uber. Park your kids at a RESO activity. Tu B’Av is a day for lovers. The relatively unknown holiday celebrates several joyous occasions that are said to have occurred on the 15th of Av. Team SKINNY’s favorite comes from the Talmud (tall-mood) – a collection of ancient Jewish laws and customs. The Talmud says that on the 15th of Av, brides would borrow each other’s white wedding dresses so no one would know who was wealthy and who was poor. (Team SKINNY thinks this was the original sharing economy.) The badass brides would also sing a verse from Proverbs: “Grace is deceptive. Beauty is illusory. A woman who is dedicated to God is the one to be praised.” While Tu B’Av is similar to Valentine's Day, it’s way better because Cupid’s day originated as a pagan festival, pivoted to a Christian feast, and then was co-opted by a greeting card company. What’s more: you’re likely to get a last minute, primetime, reservation at a Michelin-star restaurant on Tu B’Av. Not so likely on Valentine’s Day. If you’re feeling spontaneous, Tu B’Av is also a perfect day to get engaged. Team SKINNY offers a premature Mazel Tov!


(to chew on)

The Shema is the ultimate bedtime ritual! (Team SKINNY thinks it’s the original Goodnight Moon book.) The Talmud says when we go to sleep at night our souls go up to heaven for a daily accounting, which leaves our bodies unprotected while our souls are with God. So, we say the bedtime Shema to wrap us up in the protective blanket of Torah while we dream away. The version of the Shema that we recite at bedtime includes the first paragraph of the daily Shema plus some additional prayers that ask the angels to surround us while we sleep. After your Tu B’Av date night, cozy up with your kids and say Lilah Tov (lie-lah toe-v) – Good Night – to the moon and everything else in the room by reciting the Shema together. (We promise, if you do, you won’t need Morgan Freeman to narrate Go the F**K to Sleep.) Or, say it to yourself after you turn off your phone at night. (We promise, it might just be better than Ambien.) 

PJ Library and Interfaith Family have great resources for Shema bedtime rituals and links to the full bedtime Shema in English and Hebrew. 

Team SKINNY also likes these Shema-focused picture books for kids:
  • THE BEDTIME SH’MA, written by Sarah Gershman, illustrated by Kristina Swarner, EKS Publishing

  • GOODNIGHT SH’MA, written by Jacqueline Jules, illustrated by Melanie Hall, Lerner Publishing Group

  • THE SHEMA IN THE MEZUZAH, written by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, illustrated by Joani Keller Rothenberg, Jewish Lights Publishing



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