Sometimes, you see spouses humoring each other. One is a health nut, and the other goes along, holding in an eyeroll. Or one is an avid sports fan, while the other maintains tolerance and patience but no enthusiasm.

Other times, one spouse’s excitement and passion rubs off on the other to the extent that you can no longer guess which one previously dragged their feet.

The animal soul and G‑dly soul have the same dynamic. It’s one thing for the animal soul to sort of, kind of, agree to go along with the G‑dly soul. But it’s quite another for it to wholeheartedly agree and be transformed so that it, too, loves G‑d.

And that is what the Shema prayer is all about: a contemplation so powerful that it can transform the likes and passions of the animal soul.

The Shema prayer teaches us to look beyond, to the deeper explanation:

Shema Yisrael, “Hear O Israel.” A Jew should internally hear—not in a superficial way, but in a deep and understanding way so that the animal soul truly gets it.

“Shema”—Hear and internalize that Hashem Elokeinu, “the L‑rd is our G‑d.” Think about the fact that the L‑rd, is His Essence, is our G‑d, our energy and life force.

“The L‑rd is one”—G‑d is not only our life force, but the L‑rd is one. This does not only imply there is only one G‑d and no other G‑d, but that He is literally one. The world is one with G‑d since He is the Creator and continuously creating it into being. There are no multiple existences. The entire universe is literally one with G‑d.

This Shema meditation is connected to the spiritual world of Atzilut: the World of Emanation, which in Kabbalistic terminology is the highest of the four spiritual worlds. This realm of spiritual existence is completely one with G‑d’s Divine Light.

The Hebrew word for “one,” echad, is composed of three Hebrew letters in the alphabet that have special significance: aleph, chet and daled.

Contemplate this: Alef has a numeric value of one, which means that G‑d is one and His essence shines in all modes and attributes that He manifests Himself in the world of Atzilut. The second letter, Chet, is the first letter of the Hebrew word chochma, “wisdom”—the first attribute that G‑d manifests Himself with. The third letter, Daled, is for dibbur, “speech.” G‑d is one in all His attributes—from the first, wisdom, until the last, speech.

The “L‑rd is our G‑d” because G‑d’s essence is our life force; our souls can comprehend this! We can feel G‑d’s oneness and recognize and appreciate what goes on in the spiritual world of Atzilut! We can think of this great spiritual world, which is known as “the world of oneness” because while G‑d is one with His entire creation, in the world of Atzilut it is actually apparent!

When G‑d’s unity is revealed in this way, when the G‑dly soul comprehends how there is no other existence besides for G‑dliness, it impacts not just the G‑dly soul but the animal soul as well. The G‑dly soul does not only “conquer” the animal soul or drag it along; the animal soul actually gets transformed and sees the light. When we pray and contemplate in this manner, our animal soul doesn’t just humor us about holiness; it, too, becomes passionate about loving G‑d.

That is why after the words “G‑d is one,” we can say “You shall love the L‑rd your G‑d with all your heart.” The Hebrew word for “your heart,” levavecha, has the letter bet twice to hint to the two “hearts” that are now filled with love of G‑d—the heart of the G‑dly soul and the heart of the animal soul.

So while the prayers preceding the Shema are important, it is the Shema prayer itself that transforms the animal soul into loving G‑d.

And they become like two spouses with the same goal.

Soul Note: The revelation of G‑d’s true unity is what converts the animal soul from disconnection to oneness with G‑d.

Source: The Maamar, ki Teitzei Lamilchamah, in Likkutei Torah, as explained in Chassidut Mevueret, Chapter 6.