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Kriat Shema - Foundation of Emuna

Masechta Brachos famously begins, "Me'eimasai Korin es Shema be'Arvis" - when do we read Shema in the evening? It's been said that this opening line of the very first masechta of Shas should be read hashkafically: "When do we read the Shema? In the evening" - that is, Shema being the most fundamental statement of a Jew's faith in Hashem - when should that be read? In the "evening;" that is, in times of darkness and despair when we must fall back on our faith to persevere through troubling times.

In Rav Yaakov Astor's "Rav Avigdor Miller on Emunah and Bitachon," it is brought down in the name of Rav Miller that the conclusion of the "Shema Yisroel" verse - "Hashem Echad" - is a reference to the fundamental belief that Hashem is the only One responsible for both our personal and national fates. That is, though it may appear that all sorts of natural forces are responsible for our individual and national destinies, in the end, it is Hashem alone who guides our individual lives and the fate of the Jewish nation. And in that vein - "kol david rachmana, l'tav avid" - whatever happens, we can have faith that whatever Hashem does, it is for the best.

It is this faith that can get us through the most trying times. The same sentiment is reflected in the verse from Tehilim 92 - read as the shir shel yom for Shabbos - "l'hagid baboker chasdecha, v'emunatcha b'leilot." During prosperous times, we recount Hashem's chesed - all the good He has done for us. It is easy to be thankful during good times - during the "day". But when it is "night" - in times of darkness - when the future looks bleak - we must fall back on our emunah that it is Hashem who is behind all events.

A most appropriate message by which to commence the study of shas.


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