Hashem is God; there is nothing besides Him. (Devarim 4:35)
The Torah teaches us that there is only one true Hashem. He is One and there are no others besides Him.
We are commanded to focus on this concept and to learn its truth, as it says four verses later: “You shall know today and take to heart that Hashem is God...there is no other” (ibid., 39).
This is such a fundamental secret that it encompasses all of creation. Hashem is the only Creator; we are all His creations. When we surrender our ego to Hashem, when we let go and trust Him, we become even closer to Him. We can then become an instrument of Hashem to fulfill His goals.
The sefer Nefesh HaChaim teaches a practical application of this principle, which is called a “wondrous segulah”:
To remove all opposition… When a person focuses his mind on this fact — that Hashem is the true source of all and there is no other force or power whatsoever — and he completely cancels in his mind all other seeming powers…Hashem will help him by causing all other illusionary powers to be removed and canceled…. (Nefesh HaChaim 3:12)
This segulah was utilized by Rav Chaim Soloveitchik, the rav of Brisk, when his son, Reb Yitzchak Zev, reached the age of army induction. Reb Chaim traveled with his son to the draft board in order to obtain an exemption. Along the way, Reb Chaim repeated the teachings of the Nefesh HaChaim over and over to his son, instructing him to keep thinking about “ein od milvado” even when he stood before the draft board. Miraculously, Reb Yitzchak Zev was granted an exemption.
Another time, a Jew came running to the Beis HaLevi, Rav Yosef Dov Ber Soloveitchik, crying that the police were coming to inspect all the stores in his area in Brisk and he was afraid he would be fined a huge fine and end up being jailed for years. The Beis HaLevi spoke to the man for half an hour, focusing on the teaching of ein od milvado — that Hashem is in control. The man prayed for help with this in mind.
A short time later, the man’s wife came to report that the danger had passed. The police had skipped their store in their search of the area.
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The entire Torah teaches the great fundamental lesson of ein od milvado in all of its applications. Each of the five chumashim has its own specific focus, as follows:
1. Bereishis — We learn that Hashem is the One and Only Creator who designed and fashioned the entire universe out of nothing. He then chose the avos and their descendants as His Chosen People when they recognized Him and devoted their lives to serving Him.
2.Shemos — Hashem redeemed His people from slavery with many miracles which demonstrate His oneness and absolute power. He then gave us His Torah to teach us His ways and guide us to His service. 3. Vayikra — Hashem instructs us on how to bring korbanos, offerings, which teach us to appreciate that He is the One and Only One whom we serve. When we offer an animal as a sacrifice, it takes the place of our own physical body, symbolizing that we subject our physical essence to Hashem’s service.
Nowadays, our daily prayers take the place of korbanos. Through our prayers we train ourselves to learn the lessons of Hashem’s power. We must pray to Hashem for every need we have, so that we realize that all of our needs come from Him.
4. Bemidbar — Even in the desert, where a person could not exist for any length of time, Hashem is in control over everything. Hashem kept us alive in the desert for forty years, where we survived and thrived. It was a glorious demonstration of the concept “There is no one besides Him.” Everything in our lives depends on Hashem and His kindness to us. 5. Devarim — This sefer is called “Mishneh Torah,” a review of the Torah. Many topics of the Torah are reviewed and highlighted in this sefer as the lessons of Hashem’s complete control are taught and emphasized.
The word devarim literally means “words.” Every word we express should be directed to Hashem’s honor. Every day of our lives, and down to every second, we should be thinking, “Our lives are a gift from Hashem. Let us utilize every breath to honor Him.”
In this book, we will, b’ezras Hashem, focus on lessons from each parashah that highlight the concept of ein od milvado. We will also examine how these lessons connect to the berachos of Shemoneh Esrei, which we recite every day. This will help us integrate the lessons that we learn into our daily lives.
Through reminders from each parashah and from each paragraph of Shemoneh Esrei, we will slowly develop a realistic awareness of the greatest of all truths — that there is nothing else besides Hashem!
But why did Hashem create this world? What does He expect of us? The principle of “ein od milvado” includes the idea that there is no other Creator and no other power in control. But how does this lesson impact our daily lives?
All Your works shall thank You...they shall declare Your glory...they shall speak of Your might. To inform people of His mighty deeds and the glorious splendor of His kingdom.... (Tehillim 145:10–12)
When we see the world around us, we must realize that it does not possess intrinsic being. Everything that exists depends on Hashem’s will to maintain its existence. Hashem is the creator of all; His essence is the only true reality (Rambam, Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 1:4). This is the deeper understanding of “Hashem is One.” He is the One and Only Creator. Everything in the world is His creation.
Our purpose in life is to recognize Him and to express our understanding of His greatness. “This nation, I created for Me to relate My praise” (Yeshayah 43:21).
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