The next two words should strike us very powerfully. על לבבך. They should transport us to the end of davening in עלינו לשבח when we say וידעת היום והשבת אל לבבך. Unfortunately for many of us our familiarity with this verse ends there but the next words are critical. We are instructed to intellectually know and then internalize to our hearts כִּי ה’ הוּא הָאֱלקִים בַּשָּׁמַיִם מִמַּעַל וְעַל הָאָרֶץ מִתָּחַת אֵין עוד. These words essentially reiterate קבלת עול מלכות שמים so we are to not only to accept intellectually that Hashem is our complete and only Master but to fully internalize that fact.
The remaining verses of this פרשה emphasize this point. ושננתם לבניך. The Gemara says that we should read this ושלשתם. Rav Schwab explains that one should first learn a topic twice before teaching it to his children and/or students. The objective is not just to make the learning sharp for his children but for himself, speaking primarily Torah and קבלת עול מלכות שמים. In this way we teach more by example than by lessons. Again, we need to internalize and live Torah and אמונה.
וקשרתם לאות על ידך. R. Schwab points out that we put tefillin on the זרוע rather than on the יד. The זרוע is symbolic, as we say in the Hagadah, of control over nature. We, too, put our tefillin on the זרוע as a sign to ourselves to control our nature. Why, then, does the Torah say to put the tefillin on the יד? The יד is representative of our actions, so as to say that Torah and Emunah should be imprinted and recognizable in our actions.
והיו לטטפות בין עיניך. The Gemara explains the word טטפות as derived from two different words in two different languages both of which mean “two.” The question, then, is why could Hashem not have used some foreign word for “four?” The answer lies in the fact that the פרשיות are in fact paired. The first two פרשיות, which are קדש and והיה כי יביאך, deal with physical מצוות and therefore relate to קדושת הגוף. The second two פרשיות, which are שמע and והיה אם שמוע, deal with the קדושה of our נשמות. It is fascinating to note that the first two פרשיות are also placed over the left side of the brain which is dominant in people who are more connected with their physical existence while the second two פרשיות are located over the right side of the brain which is dominant in people who are more spiritual and artistic in nature. The general idea is that, with the tefillin, we are binding our actions and all aspects of our thoughts to the Will of Hashem, our Master. Similarly, the Gemara in Brachos explains the verse, וראו כל עמי הארץ כי שם ה’ נקרא עליך ויראו ממך, the nations of Earth will see that the name of Hashem is called upon you and they will fear you. אמר רבי אליעזר אלה תפילין שבראש. “R. Eliezer says, these are the tefillin that are in the head,” and the commentaries point out that R. Eliezer does not refer to the tefillin that are on the head but rather the tefillin that are in the head. The message of שמע needs to be deeply internalized.
Finally, R. Schwab explains that the mitzvah of mezuzah, with which this פרשה ends, reminds us that nothing, even our home and our possessions, is permanent except the knowledge of HaKadosh Baruch Hu if we make a connection with Him.
Hence the entire first פרשה of קריאת שמע should be read as a message to imprint the knowledge, love and trust of Hashem in our minds and our hearts.
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