Va'et'hanan: A Summary of the Parsha

Moses stresses to the Israelites the importance of keeping God's commandments when they enter the land of Israel; Moses repeats the Ten Commandments and utters the Sh'ma and V'ahavta.

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"Now," Moses continues, "when you arrive in this land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, take heed that you do not forget God. Fear God. Do not go after other gods from among the gods of the peoples that surround you. For God, Your God, is a God Who demands Respect, lest the anger of God be stirred up against you and God will destroy you from the face of the earth."

"When God gives this land to you," Moses says, "God will deprive many nations of their land before you. God will strike down your enemies. Make no covenant with them, nor ally yourselves with them by marriage, for this will cause your children to deviate from following God. Then your children will serve alien gods kindling God's anger. God will destroy you. Rather, tear down their altars and burn their images in fire for you are a holy people to God, your God.

"It is you whom God has chosen to be a people belonging exclusively to God, more than all the other peoples that are upon the earth. God did not take delight in you and choose you because you were the most numerous among the peoples, for you are the smallest. It is out of God's love for you. It is because God kept the oath God swore to your forefathers and brought you out of slavery. God preserves the covenant for those who Love God and who keep God's commandments. But for those who hate God, God avenges them instantly. Therefore keep the commandments I command you today."

Questions For Discussion

1) This passage includes the Sh'ma and V'ahavta. Do you think that the phrase "these words which I command thee this day" refers to The Ten Commandments or the whole Torah? Why?

2) Why is it so important for the Israelites to follow the Ten Commandments in this promised land? Can the land fulfill its promise if the people do not follow the Ten Commandments?

3) In this passage, a covenant between the Israelites and God is described. What are the terms of this covenant? Does the covenant still apply today? Why or why not?

4) This section includes a prohibition against intermarriage. Do you think that it still applies today?

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Nancy Reuben Greenfield

Nancy Reuben Greenfield has written three adaptations of the Torah, including an
interactive family version at www.TiptoeThroughTheTorah.com, and an engaging
Jewish immigrant novel, The Golden Medina, available on itunes and Amazon.