Parashat VaEtkhanan / פרשת ואתחנן

Crop of Moses and the Ten Commandments by James Joseph Jacques Tissot


Parashat VaEtkhanan is the 45th weekly reading in the annual Torah reading cycle, and the 2nd reading of Devarim (“Deuteronomy”). VaEtchanan (וָאֶתְחַנַּן) means And I Pleaded and is the first word of the parashah, which, continuing from where Parashat Devarim left off, begins with Mosheh (Moses) recounting how he pleaded with HaShem to let him enter the Promised Land, and HaShem’s response to his plea.

Parashat VaEtkhanan continues with Mosheh calling Bnei Yisrael (the Children of Israel) to the obedience of faith, reminding us of many great and terrible deeds of HaShem, our Elokim (G-d), from the time He delivered us from the slavery of Mitzrayim (Egypt), and His faithfulness to do what He has promised.

The people of Yisrael should therefore believe the word of HaShem and be careful to keep His covenant and the related statutes and decrees which HaShem instructed Mosheh to teach the people, and what the result of that will be, with special emphasis on the prohibition on all forms of idolatry. Mosheh also describes what will happen to the people should they rebel against HaShem in the Promised Land, and provides a way for Yisrael to know there is no other god besides HaShem.

Parashat VaEtkhanan then briefly records the three cities of refuge which Mosheh set apart east of the Yarden (Jordan), followed by a thorough restating of the Ten Words HaShem spoke to Bnei Yisrael from the midst of the fire which burned at the top of Mount Sinai, when we came out of Mitzrayim. Mosheh then provides the ultimate summary of the Torah (Instruction/Law) of HaShem, exhorting us to respond to HaShem in faithfulness.

The parashah ends with instructions pertaining to what is to be done concerning the idolatry of the nations in the Promised Land, followed by promises for those who love HaShem and for those who hate HaShem.

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Torah Portion: Deuteronomy 3:23 – 7:11

1st Aliyah: Deuteronomy 3:23-4:4 (11 verses)
2nd Aliyah: Deuteronomy 4:5-40 (36 verses)
3rd Aliyah: Deuteronomy 4:41-49 (9 verses)
4th Aliyah: Deuteronomy 5:1-18 (18 verses)
5th Aliyah: Deuteronomy 5:19-6:3 (15 verses)
6th Aliyah: Deuteronomy 6:4-25 (22 verses)
7th Aliyah: Deuteronomy 7:1-11 (11 verses)
Maftir: Deuteronomy 7:9-11 (3 verses)

Reading from the Nevi’im (Prophets):
Isaiah 40:1 – 40:26

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Mashiakh v’Mitzvot

Mashiakh in the Parashah

He will speak for HaShem to His people.

Mosheh will strengthen and encourage him.

Who will give and their heart will be such for them?

He will cause his people to inherit the land.

He will destroy the wicked from the land.

HaShem our G-d destroyed the worshippers of the idol Peor from among Bnei Yisrael through His Memra.

What people is so great, to whom HaShem is so high in the Name of Memra of HaShem?

The Memra of HaShem sits on his throne high and lifted up, and hears our prayer when we pray before HaShem and make our petitions.

The Memra of HaShem has taken Bnei Yisrael for his portion, and has brought us out from the iron furnace of Mitzrayim to be to him a people of inheritance.

The Memra of HaShem your G-d is a consuming fire.

Bnei Yisrael are instructed to fear HaShem their G-d and obey His Memra.

HaShem caused Bnei Yisrael to hear the voice of His Memra from the midst of the fire burning atop Mount Sinai.

The Memra of HaShem performed signs in announcing that HaShem would separate to a people from among a people for Himself.

Mosheh stood between the Memra of HaShem and Bnei Yisrael at that time, to declare the Memra of HaShem, because Bnei Yisrael were afraid before the voice of Memra of HaShem.

Bnei Yisrael are not to swear by the Name of the Memra of HaShem our G-d in vain.

The voice of the Memra was written upon two tables of marble.

The Memra of HaShem our G-d showed Bnei Yisrael HaShem’s glorious Shekhinah and the greatness of His excellency.

Bnei Yisrael feared they would die if they continued to hear the voice of the Memra of HaShem our G-d.

Bnei Yisrael must fear HaShem our G-d, and worship before Him, and swear by the Name of the Memra of HaShem in truth.

The Memra of HaShem brought us out of Mitzrayim with a mighty hand and performed signs, great wonders, and sore plagues on Mitzrayim and on Faroh and all the men of his house, which our eyes beheld.

Good Deeds in the Parashah

Learn, keep, and do the statutes and judgements given by HaShem through Mosheh.

Do not add to Mosheh’s words.

Do not take away from Mosheh’s words.

Keep the commandments of G-d commanded by Mosheh.

Remember the events of the exodus and the wilderness, and fear G-d.

Tell your children about the events, and teach them to fear G-d.

Perform HaShem’s Covenant; the Ten Commandments.

Take possession of the Promised Land.

Return to G-d from the midst of exile in the latter days.

Inquire as to whether or not the things which G-d did for Yisrael ever happened to anyone else.

The man-slayer should flee to a City of Refuge to save his life from the avenger of blood.

Know that HaShem is G-d in Heaven above and on the Earth below.

Hear Israel: HaShem is our G-d; HaShem is One.

Love HaShem completely.

Teach your children and grandchildren the Torah.

Establish G-d’s words on your heart, and speak them.

Bind them as a sign on your hand.

Make them frontlets between your eyes.

Do not put HaShem to the test.

Clear the Promised Land of the idolaters.

Make no covenant with them.

Do not be gracious to them.

Do not intermarry with them.

Clear the Promised Land of all paraphernalia of idolatry.

Know the character of HaShem.

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