Parashat Va’etchanan (To Implore or Beg)
D’varim (Deuteronomy) 3:23–7:11
In our weekly parasha, we read one of the most famous prayers in Judaism called “The Shema”:
Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the Lord is one! You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might (everything that is within you). These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart. You shall teach (repeat) them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
I believe this is such a beautiful prayer with some very important points which we often miss when we only put the emphasis on the opening “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!”. Before I continue with some thoughts about this, I would like to share a thought on the first word that is used here, which I believe is important for us to understand in order to grasp the rest of this prayer. The word “שְׁמַע” (“Shema”) in Hebrew has a more nuanced meaning than just “hear”. It means to hear, but also to understand, comprehend, accept, receive a request and comply with it. In other words, it is important for us to understand that hearing is followed by action, and therefore, I believe that verses 5–9 are equally as important as verse 4.
We are to love our God with all our heart, soul, and everything that is within us. God wants all of us, not just part of us. He doesn't just want the areas that we feel good about, are comfortable with, or just the areas with which we agree in Scripture. I personally believe this is the reason Yeshua repeated the next verse when He was challenged by one of the Torah experts on what the greatest command is:
But the Pharisees, when they heard that Yeshua had silenced the Sadducees, gathered together in one place. And testing Him, one of them, a lawyer (Torah expert) , asked, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Torah?” And He said to him, “‘You shall love ADONAI your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’The entire Torah and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Matthew 22:34–40 TLV
As with so many other commands from the Torah (God’s teachings), Yeshua shows us that one of the ways we demonstrate our love for God is how we love our neighbor; both are a reflection of each other.
Coming back to our parasha, I now turn to verse 6:
These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.
God desires every part of us, but it all starts from our hearts! Through Yeshua, God provided a new covenant as prophesied in Jeremiah 31:33: “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My Torah within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.”
Here is a part from these verses that we often miss:
You shall teach (repeat) them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Our words must be followed by action; otherwise, they are empty words without meaning. I often hear statements that we are “losing the future generation.” I personally believe many youth walk away from the LORD because we have lost sight of the importance of teaching them again and again, not just in words, but also by the way we apply the Word to our lives. As the above verses command, this should be done repeatedly throughout the day. In short, God ought to be the center of our lives in all that we say and do.
He gave us His everything; the least we can give Him is our all.
Did you know? — Lone Soldier
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