This is a piece I did on a standard notecard with acrylic paint, mounted on color paper.
The Hebrew letters in this piece come together to form the word "Shema", which means "hear", and sometimes, "listen". In Judaism, one of our holiest prayers to Hashem (G-d) is the Shema. It is a prayer that commands the Jewish people to stop and listen, and to recognize that G-d is One.
To me, the Shema is my ultimate declaration of love for Hashem. It reminds me to be conscious of my words and actions in everyday life, and make sure that I am using those methods to spread the love and joy of Judaism, rather than hate and malice. To take this even farther, Shema means to me that I must stop and listen to those around me; I must listen to the experiences of my fellow human.
Too often, we listen only as a waiting period for our turn to speak. The Shema reminds us that this is not a healthy way to recognize the Oneness of Hashem, and thus the Oneness of humanity. If we wish to coexist and cultivate peace and understanding, we must do our best to hear those around us. This specifically applies to the struggles of those who speak to us. Are we waiting for them to finish talking, only to pounce on them with our words of advice? Or, are we really listening and hearing their struggles and experiences, and being the ear of support that they need in that moment? When someone tells you of their pain, often, they merely want a person who is willing to do exactly what the Shema wants us to: hear.
Sometimes, listening means setting aside personal bias and opinion — if only for a minute, so that we can really listen. You are not truly listening if you are thinking of rebuttals in your head as another speaks, or if you are set on seeing their perspective in one particular way. It takes strength to do this, but it is what we are commanded to do if we wish to create an environment in which our core values as Jews (or even as righteous people) are present.
I hope that those who see this artwork I made, no matter their religion, can recognize the value of truly listening to the people in our lives.
Shema Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad.
Hear O'Israel, Adonai is our G-d, Adonai is One.