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Six Words That Say It All

08/08/2022 11:37:07 AM


Rabbi Brad Levenberg

It is one of my favorite tidbits. Ernest Hemingway, challenged to write a story in only six words, composed this most heartbreaking tale: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Larry Smith, founder of SMITH Magazine, came across this tidbit and challenged his network to describe their lives in exactly six words, calling them Six-Word Memoirs. What began modestly in 2006 has turned into a massive industry, with multiple books published, from the volume comprised of six-word stories from famous authors (Not Quite What I Was Planning) to the volume written by teens (I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets) to so many more, including a weekly prompt on the website challenging us all to respond to thoughtful and sometimes silly questions in six words. My favorite is the book on the Jewish experience: Six-Word Memoirs on Jewish Life.

While we can think creatively and introspectively about how we might define our Jewish existence in six words, we find in our Torah portion this week the core six words of the Jewish people, the code that originally set us apart from others and established ourselves as a unique people in covenant with God: Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheinu Adonai Echad. Listen, Israel, Adonai is Your God, Adonai is One.

Six words. “Six words” that say it all.

May we lean into these words throughout this upcoming Shabbat, wrestling with what it means for our daily living and how it binds us to our people.

Shabbat Shalom.

Sat, December 10 2022 16 Kislev 5783