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Commentary on Parashat Va’Ethanan

This Shabbat every Synagogue in the world is going to read Parashat Va’Ethanan – Deuteronomy chapter 3:23 – 7:11. In this reading like in every chapter of the Torah there are so many treasures both stated clearly and hidden for us to learn from. Two of the most important texts in the Bible are given to us here, the Shema Israel (Deut. 6:4-9) and Moses reciting a second time the Ten Commandments (Deut. 5:6-21). You can imagine the emotional state of every individual this Shabbat. This week we had the fast day of the 9th of Av – The day that the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed twice, 586 B.C. And 70 A.D. Today is the day that the Roman Legions destroyed the city of Beitar in the year 135 A.D. Today is the day that the Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492 and on and on – this day is a day written in infamy throughout Jewish History. Immediately after the 9th of Av – in every Synagogue there is the reading of the Shema and the repetition of the 10 commandments.

I would like to concentrate this week on the command that comes first right after stating “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” The declaration of the One God our Lord is understood without too much difficulty. One God is One God – this same declaration is self evident through the whole Bible and is repeated in the New Testament many times both by Yeshua and the Apostles:

Rom. 3:30, “since there is one God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.”

1Cor. 8:6, “yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live.”

Eph. 4:5-6, “one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.”

1 Tim. 2:5, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus…”

James 2:19, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble!

The first demand is the confession that there is ONE GOD – that is common and all can and ought to do it without any trouble – unless they are idolaters and worship more than ONE God.

The second demand is the most complicated and difficult from all other commandments: Deut. 6:5, “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.”

On an average day I can control my actions, but to control my emotions and to direct my love toward an invisible LORD is a bit more difficult. Even more difficult it is to love the Lord God with all my heart and with my Soul and with all my strength. This essentially means that I shave to force my emotions my very being and fill my inner space (heart) where my intellect and my feelings reside with the Lord God who is not here next to me to hold my hand and to allow me to lean my head on his shoulder when I am sad, blue, or just alone. How does one love somebody by command. How is it possible to command someone to love anyone, especially a God who is a Spirit and does not have a visible Body to hold and to keep near me?

Well first I confess that it is not simple. Second, I confess that I believe that the Lord God of Israel would not give us a command or a request that is impossible to keep. Third, I know a few people who actually were able to be totally absorbed by God and God was their total absolute daily pre-occupation. So, how did they do it! Here are the ingredients for loving God with all our soul and with all our heart and with all our emotions and intellect:

Meditate on God and read and study His Word on every free moment. You don’t see many Christians taking a bible with them every where they go. Just take a bible and carry it with you every where you go, and you have a moment don’t waste it – open your book and read. In Jerusalem you see this daily. Orthodox Jews are trained not to waste time. To study the Word of God all the time that they have free. So, you see Orthodox Jews always carrying a book with them. They stand in the bus-stop they open the book and read. They are waiting in the doctor’s office – they open the book and read. We need to fill our life with God’s Word and following the Word from out head down – it will eventually reach our hearts and our emotions and we will be hungry for God’s Word like we are hungry for our favorite food or ice-cream. The secret of falling in love with anyone is communication and spending time together. The way that we spend time with God is read His Word, Study the Word of God, east the Word of God like it says:

Psa. 119:103, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth!

There are no short cuts to fall in love with God and to love Him with all our strength/might other than to meditate on His love for us and His care for us and above all His sacrifice for us – sending His only begotten Son to a sacrifice for our redemption and forgives of sins. I know that when I do study the Word of God and discover something new that I didn’t know earlier the following verse is fulfilled in me:

Psa. 119:162, “I rejoice at Your word As one who finds great treasure.”

Spend time in prayer and in reading the Word of God! This will be the best investment of your time and it will inspire you to love God more and to do the rest of the commands with joy and satisfaction now and eternally.

This article originally appeared as a part of The Jerusalem Prayer List by Netivyah Bible Instruction Ministry, August 2, 2017, and reposted with permission.

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