graphic zera-im




Zera'im is the first order of the Mishna which opens with the Shema.
The Shema is the most holy of prayers affirming only one true God.
(Tifereth Israel, Columbus, Ohio)

Excerpt from Stained Glass Quarterly article dated Fall 1989

The first Seder (order) of the Mishna, Zera'im (seeds) deals with the agricultural laws in both their religious and social aspects. The most important theme of Zera'im is set down in Tractate Berakoth, dealing with the prayer and worship of Israel. In the window representing Zera'im, the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4) is written in Hebrew across the upper panel: "Hear, O Yisrael: The Lord our God, the Lord is One." It is in this prayer, that the opening theme of the tractate is formed. The Shema, ("Hear") is an affirmation of Israel's faith in God's ownership of the world (through ethical monotheisms) as well as an expression of devotion and love. The following words in the Shema explain the relationship we are to cultivate with our Lord and God: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your being." This is the sum of the Law.

Zera'im is designated in the Talmud by the term Emunah, which signifies both faith in God and faithfulness toward one's fellow human being. Symbolized in the lower panel of this window is the Tractate Pe'ah -- the laws of the corners of the fields -- which must be left to the poor. In following the laws of the tractate, one objectively acknowledges faith in divine ownership of the earth. In doing so, we faithfully carry out our social obligations according to Talmudic Law. "The man of faith will carry out these observances with faithfulness, whilst the faithfulness with which he performs his duties is a test of his faith." Divine ownership of the earth is also expressed as, "...all God's children are entitled to a share in the land, as their common heritage."




Extended Commentary on the Shema and Laws Governed by Seder Zera'im:




Shema Yisrael YHWH Elohaynu YHWH Echod

Hear, O Yisrael, the L-rd our G-d, the L-rd is One.

Blessed be the name of the glory of His kingdom forever and ever.

You shall love the L-rd your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your being. And these words which I command you today shall be upon your heart. You shall teach them thoroughly to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road, when you lie down and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign upon your hand, and they shall be for a reminder between your eyes. And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house and upon your gates.

And it will be, if you will diligently obey My commandments which I enjoin upon you this day, to love the L-rd your G-d and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, I will give rain for your land at the proper time, the early rain and the late rain, and you will gather in your grain, your wine and your oil. And I will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be sated. Take care lest your heart be lured away, and you turn astray and worship alien gods and bow down to them. For then the L-rd's wrath will flare up against you, and He will close the heavens so that there will be no rain and the earth will not yield its produce, and you will swiftly perish from the good land which the L-rd gives you. Therefore, place these words of Mine upon your heart and upon your soul, and bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be for a reminder between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, to speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road, when you lie down and when you rise. And you shall inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates - so that your days and the days of your children may be prolonged on the land which the L-rd swore to your fathers to give to them for as long as the heavens are above the earth.

The L-rd spoke to Mosha, saying: Speak to the children of Yisrael and tell them to make for themselves fringes on the corners of their garments throughout their generations, and to attach a thread of blue on the fringe of each corner. They shall be to you as tzizit, and you shall look upon them and remember all the commandments of the L-rd and fulfill them, and you will not follow after your heart and after your eyes by which you go astray - so that you may remember and fulfill all My commandments and be holy to your G-d. I am the L-rd your G-d who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your G-d; I, the L-rd, am your G-d. True.







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