The Torah in Haiku: Va-et’chanan

by Ed Nickow
Temple Chai, Long Grove, IL
Originally posted on the Torah in Haiku

This week in Torah
Deuteronomy 6:4
THE Jewish Haiku!

Shema Yisrael
Adonai Eloheinu
Adonai Echad

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About Ed Nickow

Ed Nickow is a teacher and member of the Board of Trustees at Temple Chai, Long Grove, IL. This post is from his blog The Torah in Haiku.

7 Responses to “The Torah in Haiku: Va-et’chanan

  1. avatar

    HA! After enjoying this Torah in Haiku series for a very long time, often trying my hand (badly) at writing haiku on miscellaneous Judaic themes, I actually never noticed that the Sh’ma was a haiku!!! Perfect 5/7/5!!! Shabbat Shalom! 🙂

  2. avatar

    Here, O Israel.
    The Eternal is our God.
    The Eternal — One!
    Where else can we find
    A haiku that works in both
    Hebrew and English?

  3. avatar

    The last part of my post is missing on this blog:
    Hear O Israel
    The Eternal Is Our G-d
    Adonai Is One
    But I like Larry’s better … all English for the final “stanza” and the curious use of “here”.
    Jordan – how wonderful that you’ve enjoyed my (mostly) weekly posts. The haiku-ness of the Sh’ma was a great discovery … I actually found it a few years ago via a web search for “Torah haiku” (yeah, I’m that vain) but didn’t think to use it for the appropriate Torah portion until this year.
    Shabbat Shalom.

  4. avatar

    @Ed Nickow
    Here? In Haiku-Land?
    Or was this curious usage
    Only a typo?

  5. avatar

    Not to be a kill joy, but YHVH does not have 3 syllables like Adonai, and therefore the actual Sh’ma is not Haiku.

  6. Larry Kaufman

    Since YHVH is not to be pronounced, we don’t know how many syllables it would have if pronounced. Christians, who do not feel bound by the strictures that bind us Jews, historically vocalized YHVH as Jehovah, which retains the Haiku-ness.
    For an Orthodox Jew, however, the pronunciation as Adonai outside of an actual prayer situation would be forbidden, and the euphemism would be HaShem. So your point might be well taken on an Orthodox blog, which this is not.

  7. avatar

    Though I suppose there is no way to absolutely know for sure, a very educated guess (supported by serious scholars) is that when the Masorites voweled the text (after the name had already been lost) they put the vowel sounds from “Adonai” in YHVH to prevent anyone from saying the name. Hence Yehova.
    Also. In the tale of the burning bush, literally 1 line before God calls himself YHVH, he calls himself Ehyeh, 1 common singular of the verb to be. He calls himself YHVH a line later when giving Moses a verbatim speech, and speaking as if he was Moses, refers to himself in the third person YHVH.
    Though I suppose that maybe there is some “mystery” behind the name and its really Yuhivoh or something, essentially all educated guesses point to the 2 syllable “Yahweh.” (And, when you actually read the passage in which YHVH is traditionally said to have become THE “divine name” the first two names actually given to Moses in the passage are Ehyeh asher Ehyeh and Ehyeh, both of which have been almost completely ignored within the Temple tradition of Judaism.)
    So, I’m gonna stick with my guns here and say the Sh’ma really isn’t a Haiku.

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