What is the plain pshat of the words Hashem Echad that we say in Shema?
The words Hashem Echad include many things. It’s too big of a subject – too important of a subject – to have a plain pshat. But I’ll tell you one pshat. Hashem Echad means that He is the one who exists. And nothing else exists. He is havayah. Only He has true existence. His existence is Hayah, Hoiveh v’Yiheyeh. He truly exists while all of us exist only in the sense that He is mi’haveh us. He causes us to be in existence through His ratzon. Hashem is wishing us into existence and if He stopped wishing we would dissappear into nothing. He created us out of nothing and we would revert back into nothing.
And therefore we say that Hashem is Havayah. Havayah means – the Rambam explains this – that He is the one who is the michuyav ha’metzius. He’s the only one whose existence is a real existence. And everything else in the world exists only because Hashem wants it to be in existence. It’s His ratzon. It’s His machshavah. Of course, His machshavah is a significant machshavah. You know that you’re real – so it’s a pretty good machshavah. But still it’s only machshavah. It’s the imagination of Hakodosh Boruch Hu. We are in existence through the machshavah of Hakodosh Boruch Hu.
We say every morning, Boruch goizer u’mikayeim. Not only did Hashem decree that we should exist but he is mi’kayeim – he upholds – His decree. He continues to want us to be in existence. We are only His imagination, while His existence is the true existence.
That’s why we thank Him for every minute. Not only that He created the world but we thank Him for upholding the existence of the world every second. So the world has no existence. The world is ayin. It’s ayin – it’s nothing. Hakodosh Boruch Hu is the one who made the ayin into a yesh. And therefore He’s Echad. He’s One. He’s the only one.
There are other peirushim and all are true. One more important peirush I’ll tell you. He’s One means that He’s the only one in our minds. He’s the only thing that we should be thinking about. Whatever you are doing you must be thinking primarily about Hashem. You must think about Hashem always. Always Him! Always Hashem! He’s the Echad in our mind. No matter what you are doing – no matter what you are thinking about, He’s the one who you should be thinking about most. That’s another important peirush of the words Hashem Echad.
TAPE E-267 (March 2001)