The Strength Of The Ox

Obedience – Hebrew: shama – hear, to listen, to give attention, understand, submissive, obedience

There are moments when it is not one of obedience to God. Sometimes for us it is hearing God. I doubt any of us would have any problem obeying God if we really knew that it was God we were hearing from.

Jewish literature teaches that the central prayer of Judaism is the “Shema,” Hear O’Israel the Lord our God is one.  “To know this oneness, we need first to have a kavanah or an intention to do so.  Then we need the avah (willingness) of spiritual practice to prepare the soil of our minds and hearts to directly experience this oneness.”

The word for “willing” is “’avah” which is spelled “Aleph, Bet, Hey” Jewish literature teaches that the aleph represents the yoke of the oxen. The ancient Phoenician form of the letter “aleph” is shaped like an ox’s head.  Proverbs 14:4 tells us that a rich harvest comes through the strength of an ox. Ancient sages saw the ox as a representation of the spiritual power of God inside of us. The yoke symbolizes the disciplines to harness this power.  

Willingness or “’avah” is harnessing the power of God or yoking ourselves to the power of God so that our hearts (Bet) are filled with His presence (Hey). When we do this then we will hear (shema).

The point is that unless we are harnessed to the power of God and have a heart filled with His presence, we will not  “shama” or hear the voice of God.

Father our hearts are yolked to You in Jesus; may our “avah” willingness be pleasing and for the Kingdom and bear good fruit.

— Lori Rosen Caplin