The Commandment of Loving God

Yeshua demonstrated His love for the Father by living a life of total obedience to Him.

Verse from the New Testament about the importance of "love" (Image  © Bigstock)

Va'etchanan

Special Shabbat Reading

Special readings are applicable this Shabbat.

  • Shabbat Nachamu (שבת נחמו | Sabbath of comforting)
  • Haftarah: Isaiah 40:1-26

Shabbat Nachamu ("Sabbath of comfort/ing) takes its name from the haftarah from Isaiah in the Book of Isaiah 40:1-26 that speaks of "comforting" the Jewish people for their suffering. It the first of seven haftarahs of consolation leading up to the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

Regular Shabbat Readings

  • Va'etchanan (ואתחנן | I pleaded)
  • Torah: Deuteronomy 3:23-7:11
  • Haftarah: Isaiah 40:1-26
  • Gospel: Luke 3:2-15

Regular readings above are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. Refer to the current Torah Portion Schedule for all these variations, and special portions.

Portion Outline

  • Torah
    • Deuteronomy 3:23 | Moses Views Canaan from Pisgah
    • Deuteronomy 4:1 | Moses Commands Obedience
    • Deuteronomy 4:41 | Cities of Refuge East of the Jordan
    • Deuteronomy 4:44 | Transition to the Second Address
    • Deuteronomy 5:1 | The Ten Commandments
    • Deuteronomy 5:22 | Moses the Mediator of God's Will
    • Deuteronomy 6:1 | The Great Commandment
    • Deuteronomy 6:10 | Caution against Disobedience
    • Deuteronomy 7:1 | A Chosen People
  • Prophets
    • Isaiah 40:1 | God's People Are Comforted

Portion Summary

The forty-fifth reading from the Torah and the second reading from the book of Deuteronomy is named Va'etchanan (ואתחנן), which means "and I besought." The title comes from the first verse of the reading, which says, "I also pleaded (va'etchanan) with the LORD at that time" (Deuteronomy 3:23). The portion completes the historical prologue of the Deuteronomy covenant document and begins a rehearsal of the stipulations. Part of that rehearsal is a repetition of the Ten Commandments and the famous first passage of the Shema: Deuteronomy 6:4-9.


Jewish liturgy refers to Deuteronomy 6:4-9 as “The Shema.” The word Shema (שמע) is the imperative to form for the word “Listen.” “Shema, O Israel,” Deuteronomy 6:4 says. Moses told Israel, “Listen Israel! The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” In Judaism, we recite the Shema every morning as part of the morning prayers and every evening as part of the evening prayers.

The Master regarded the Shema as the greatest and foremost commandment of the Torah. A sage once asked him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?” (Mark 12:28). He answered with the words of Deuteronomy 6:4-5:

Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. (Mark 12:29-30)

Yeshua teaches that to love the LORD is the greatest commandment because genuine love for God leads us to fulfill all the commandments. If we love God, we will seek to please Him in all that we do. We will keep His commandments out of a desire to demonstrate our love for Him. The commandment to love God occupies the foremost position because it must come first. If we attempt to serve God merely out of fear or out of a desire for reward or to earn salvation, our service is not genuine. Just as a husband wants his wife to love him, so too, the Father desires His children to serve Him out of love—not merely fear of punishment or desire for reward. Love for God results in obedience to His commandments, the Torah:

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. (1 John 5:3)

If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen. (1 John 4:20)

Yeshua demonstrated His love for the Father by living a life of total obedience to Him. He is loved by the Father, and He returned that love in the form of perfect submission. God demonstrated His love for us by sending us His Son, whom He loved. We demonstrate our love for the Father by receiving His Son and following His Son’s example of love for Him.

Adapted From: Torah Club Commentary Set: Shadows of the Messiah. Learn more about Torah Club and how you can start a Club of your own, or join a Torah Club in your area. Visit TORAHCLUB.ORG

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This year Torah Clubs are studying the Gospels from a Messianic Jewish perspective. Every week Club members encounter Yeshua of Nazareth in his Jewish context. Discover the historical and cultural backdrops of the gospels and be amazed as the teachings of Yeshua snap into focus and clarity. Unravel his difficult words and parables; study Jewish parallels to his teachings; and ultimately know Jesus better.

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