Rabbi Yitzchok Etshalom
Kriat Shema 1:02
2. What is read? Three parashiot, which are: *Sh'ma* (Devarim
6:4-9), *V'haya Im Shamoa'* (ibid. 11:13-21) and *Vayomer*
(Bamidbar [Numbers] 15:37-41). We read Sh'ma first because it
contains the [concepts of the] unity of God, love and study of
Him which is the great principle upon which all else depends.
Afterwards, [we read] V'haya Im Shamoa', which contains the
command regarding all of the other Mitzvot. After that, [we
read] the Parasha of Tzitzit ("Vayomer") which also includes the
command to remember all of the Mitzvot.
Q1: Why does Rambam need to explain the order of the Parashiot?
YF: Because we don't read the Parshiyot in the order they are in
YE: In addition - why should there be a prescribed order at all?
If the purpose is purely Talmud Torah, why should it matter which
is read first? (This may support the thesis that K'riat Sh'ma is
also a Kiyyum of Yichud Hashem and Kabbalat Ol -which, due to the
emotional response they are intended to effect, would demand a
Q2: What is the "great principle upon which all else depends"?
- unity? love? study? all three?
YF: The fundamental principle would be the unity of G-D because
everything else would stem from that.
YE: Since the last item mentioned by Rambam was study, it seems
that that is the "great principle". All else depends upon it
because, as Rambam mentions several times in Hilkhot Talmud
Torah, all action (including loving God, understanding and
declaring His Unity etc.) depends and relies upon study.
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