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Witnesses to the One

The Spiritual History of the Sh'ma

Rabbi Joseph B. Meszler
Foreword by Rabbi Elyse Goldstein

6 x 9 176 pp, Quality Paperback, 978-1-58023-400-9

Also Available in Hardcover

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An exploration of Judaism’s most sacred statement and world-changing idea.
“Hear O Israel, the Eternal is Our God, the Eternal is One!” There is arguably no more important statement in Judaism than the Sh’ma. Its words—calling us to hear, to listen, to pay attention—defy direct translation and have meant different things throughout history.
In a deeply personal exploration of this sacred proclamation, command, and prayer, Rabbi Joseph B. Meszler delves into the spiritual history of the Sh’ma, inspiring you to claim your own personal meaning in these enduring words. By examining how the Sh’ma has been commented upon by ancient sages and contemporary thinkers, he opens the doors between each generation that has found a different dimension of truth in the Sh’ma.
Each chapter focuses on a major historical figure and includes a sacred story, an exploration into the story’s many meanings, and a suggestion for a new way of “hearing” the voice in the story. Experience the Sh’ma through the lives of:
  • Moses—Fighting Idolatry
  • Akiba ben Joseph—The Sages Offer Their Lives
  • Saaida Gaon—Proving the One
  • Moses Maimonides—Nothing Like God
  • Haim Vital—Communing with the One
  • Moses Haim Luzzatto— “Master of the Universe”
  • Abraham Isaac Kook—A Nation Reborn
  • Leo Baeck—One Moral Standard
  • Abraham Joshua Heschel—A Prophecy: “One World or No World”
“Meszler’s engaging approach deepens and widens the understanding of the first six words of the Sh’ma.... The results go far beyond the usual..... Both his writing style and his unique focus on the varied spiritual history of the Sh’ma provide an important new doorway, pathway, and point of discovery.”
Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter
“Informative and intelligent ... gives us a panoramic view of how this central text has offered each generation ‘a different dimension of truth in pursuing the One.’”
Manna: The Voice of Living Judaism
“Inspiring consideration of the Shema ... invites the reader to actualise the message and power of the Shema in their own lives.”
Union of Liberal & Progressive Synagogues Newsletter
“Contain[s] wonderful insights on the ‘oneness’ of both God and the Jewish people…. An ideal Jewish book club choice.”
Jewish Book World
“Investigates the spiritual history of the Sh’ma by looking at how some key Jewish scholars and believers have interpreted the phrase…. An excellent addition to public, synagogue, and academic libraries.”      
Library Journal
“By presenting such a variety of approaches to the meaning of the Sh’ma, the author gives the reader a rich and full picture of what this important liturgical/biblical verse can mean. An excellent contribution to our understanding of the Sh’ma.”              
Jewish Media Review


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978-1-58023-337-8 Touch of the Sacred (HC)
978-1-58023-411-5 Maimonides
978-1-879045-79-8 My People's Prayer Book, V1
978-1-879045-80-4 My People's Prayer Book, V2
978-1-58023-494-8 These Are the Words, 2nd Edition


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