Parshat Va’etchanan: One July 28, 2023

Deuteronomy 6:4

שְׁמַ֖ע יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל יְהֹוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֵ֖ינוּ יְהֹוָ֥ה ׀ אֶחָֽד׃

Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, The Lord is one.

There are times when the Torah and science seem to be at odds, and times when they speak the same truth. For instance, we have to reconcile the six days of creation with thirteen billion years of existence, and the creation of humans without the process of evolution. It can be done, though it can feel like a stretch. We can, and should, explain the Torah in the light of new scientific understandings. Maimonides in fact held that we must amend our understanding of the Torah when new scientific facts are discovered. This however, has not been necessary for the shema.

The insistence of a singular, unified God and universe was first expressed in the Torah, and then discovered by the scientific community. That the universe has its origins in the big bang, a profound and mystifying singularity is now gospel. All is one because all comes from the same source. 

The implications are profound. We look around and see distinctions: you/me, us/them, good/evil, and it would be reasonable to conclude that the true nature of the world is one of distinction and separation. In comes the Shema. In comes the big bang. All comes from one source, all is one. The big bang did not happen billions of years ago. It merely began billions of years ago. The universe still explodes from that singularity, that profound oneness, and we, for all our differences and distinctions are bound eternally together in an explosive, and ongoing unity.