Va’etchanan means “and I implored” or “and I pleaded.” Va’etchanan begins by Moses reminding the people that he had pleaded with God to allow him to enter the Promised Land. Two of the most familiar passages in the Torah are contained in this Torah portion: the Shema and the reiteration of the Ten Commandments.
The Shema is the declaration of faith in One God. It contains the commandment to love God with all your heart, soul, and strength, to study His Words and teach your children to do the same, and to bind the words as tefillin on your arm and head, and to write them in the mezuzot affixed to the doorposts of your home.
Written on two tablets of stone, the Ten Commandments are a powerful set of principles laid out which teach us how to live an ethical, moral life. The first tablet, containing the first five commandments, deals with one’s relationship with God, while the second tablet, containing the second five commandments, deals with one’s relationship with one’s fellow. While these Ten Commandments speak for themselves, here are a few brief insights into each one: