Hernan Kopcow

Shema for a Diverse Nation

The chagim two years ago I was completely disconnected, I could not feel any highs. Probably the only place I could do feel some sort of connection was at the Kotel \, but the experience repeated itself. When being there I would receive the phone call of a friend as if the situation was reminding me , you should not climb alone, do not forget those who love you and because either by choice or by imposition of life circumstances chose not to or can not observe.

So I asked next to the wall, what should I do?: “Be yourself, follow no models, I will be what I will be.” which by the next morning became:

“Be yourself, follow no models, Betzelem Elokhim  (in the image go G_d), I will be what I will be.”

In Lej Leja, Abraham receives a commandment to embark on a journey living his land, his father’s house, it is commonly interpreted as go to yourself. The order to embark on a personal journey to find oneself resonates with one of the names of G_D, the tetragrammaton ׳הו-ה, Frequently translated as “Lord”, the name is associated with G_D’s aspect of chesed, kindness and is the center of many kabbalistic meditations. But is also associated with another meaning, one of a G_d of diversity.

G_D tells Moses that ׳הו-ה should be his name for eternity at the burning bush. This is the first time that G_D presents himself in relation to a collective. So far he had been speaking to individuals but now he is asking to communicate his name to a Nation.

The name he tells Moses to present him with to the Jews, Eyeh Hasher Eyeh, “it will be what it will be” , or “I will be what I will be” conveys something that is undefined, leaving open the possibility of multiple different outcomes or faces, reflecting that in a collective not two souls are the same. And immediately says ׳הו-ה ( of the root to be) shall be my name for eternity, from generation to generation. bestowing that meaning of diversity to his name.

If you read the shaharit tefillah with that in mind each time you find the tetragrammaton, you may see some interesting things coming up. If you are aware, you may also be able to identify which of those things convey Kedusha, sanctity.

The Shema acquires in this way a new meaning one of a prayer of diversity, unity, and inclusion.

Shema Israel, Adoshem ( the tetragrammaton, the diverse G-D), Elokeinu (our G-D), Adoshem Echad. The diversity of G-D is one unity,
And so it should be for us made in his image . Our souls are all different but we are all one.

The second paragraph further tells you that you shall embrace that aspect of diversity in G-D , love it with all your heart , with all your soul and with all your might.

However diversity and inclusion should not be confused with a pass for everything goes. and that is where the last paragraph of the Shema kicks in with the commandment of tztitzit as a reminder for the observance of mizvot

About the Author
Hernan is an Argentina-born scientist with a passion for Torah study. He holds a BS from the University of Buenos Aires, a MSc from the Weizmann Institute of Science, and a PhD from a combined program between the University of Buenos Aires and Harvard University. In the last years he taught at Yeshiva Ohr Ysrael in Boston and devoted time to the study of the influence of science and jewish sources