Mishkan Hanefesh – Literal and Interpretive Translations

In Mishkan Hanefesh we find on the two-page spread, the traditional Hebrew text, a literal translation and alternative readings reflecting a more modern interpretation.

The Shema is the central affirmation of Adonai, our God. Following the two line affirmation are the words of the V’ahavta. It is core to every worship service. The traditional text reads:

You shall love Adonai your God with all your heart,
with all your soul, and with all your might.
Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day.
Impress them upon your children.
Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away,
when you lie down and when you get up.
Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead;
inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

Thus you shall remember to observe all My commandments
and to be holy to your God.
I am Adonai, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to be your God:
I am Adonai your God.

The words of the V’ahavta focuses on our adherence to the mitzvot, yet, no mitzvah, is unpacked of its meaning. In the Rosh Hashanah morning service we find this alternative reading:

Love God with your mind:
Stay curious, open to questions;
marvel at the wonder for what is.

Love God with your heart:
Stay alive to suffering and joy;
Yearn for the world that could be.

Love God with your strength:
Open your hands and give;
Work for the sake of what ought to be.

Which of the above two resonates most with you?