Deuteronomy 6
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Listen to this chapter in Hebrew:

1  And this is the Instruction—the laws and the rules—that Hashem your God has commanded [me] to impart to you, to be observed in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy,

א  וְזֹאת הַמִּצְוָה הַחֻקִּים וְהַמִּשְׁפָּטִים אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם לְלַמֵּד אֶתְכֶם לַעֲשׂוֹת בָּאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם עֹבְרִים שָׁמָּה לְרִשְׁתָּהּ׃

2  so that you, your children, and your children’s children may revere Hashem your God and follow, as long as you live, all His laws and commandments that I enjoin upon you, to the end that you may long endure.

ב  לְמַעַן תִּירָא אֶת־יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לִשְׁמֹר אֶת־כָּל־חֻקֹּתָיו וּמִצְוׂתָיו אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּךָ אַתָּה וּבִנְךָ וּבֶן־בִּנְךָ כֹּל יְמֵי חַיֶּיךָ וּלְמַעַן יַאֲרִכֻן יָמֶיךָ׃

3  Obey, O Yisrael, willingly and faithfully, that it may go well with you and that you may increase greatly [in] a land flowing with milk and honey, as Hashem, the God of your fathers, spoke to you.

ג  וְשָׁמַעְתָּ יִשְׂרָאֵל וְשָׁמַרְתָּ לַעֲשׂוֹת אֲשֶׁר יִיטַב לְךָ וַאֲשֶׁר תִּרְבּוּן מְאֹד כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתֶיךָ לָךְ אֶרֶץ זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבָשׁ׃

4  Hear, O Yisrael! Hashem is our God, Hashem alone.

sh’-MA yis-ra-AYL a-do-NAI e-lo-HAY-nu a-do-NAI e-KHAD

ד  שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהֹוָה אֶחָד׃

 6:4   Hashem is our God, Hashem alone

The single most important belief in Judaism is the belief in monotheism, the oneness of God. This key principle is attested to in this fundamental verse, known as the Shema, which is recited twice each day by Jews. In the unique system of gematriya, in which every Hebrew letter is assigned a numerical value, the word echad (אחד), which means ‘one’ and is translated here as ‘alone,’ adds up to 13: א equals 1, ח equals 8, and ד equals 4. Interestingly, 13 is also the numerical value of the word ahava (אהבה), ‘love,’ as א equals 1, ה equals 5, ב equals 2, and ה equals 5. The hidden message of this gematriya is that the greatest love a person can feel is the love of the one and only God, whose very essence is love.2 comments

5  You shall love Hashem your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

ה  וְאָהַבְתָּ אֵת יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּכָל־לְבָבְךָ וּבְכָל־נַפְשְׁךָ וּבְכָל־מְאֹדֶךָ׃

6  Take to heart these instructions with which I charge you this day.

v’-ha-YU ha-d’-va-REEM ha-AY-leh a-SHER a-no-KHEE m’-tza-v’-KHA ha-YOM al l’-va-VE-kha

ו  וְהָיוּ הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיּוֹם עַל־לְבָבֶךָ׃

 6:6   These instructions with which I charge you this day

Rashi, the great Torah commentator, asks why Moshe says that he is commanding the people the laws of the Torah “this day,” since the Torah had actually been given thirty-eight years earlier. He explains that this expression indicates that we must always look at the teachings of the Bible as if they are new and exciting, as if they were given today, and not as outdated or relics of the past. New lessons of growth and inspiration relevant to our contemporary lives can always be found in the Torah, if we merely look for them.3 comments

7  Impress them upon your children. Recite them when you stay at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you get up.

ז  וְשִׁנַּנְתָּם לְבָנֶיךָ וְדִבַּרְתָּ בָּם בְּשִׁבְתְּךָ בְּבֵיתֶךָ וּבְלֶכְתְּךָ בַדֶּרֶךְ וּבְשָׁכְבְּךָ וּבְקוּמֶךָ׃

8  Bind them as a sign on your hand and let them serve as a symbol on your forehead;

ח  וּקְשַׁרְתָּם לְאוֹת עַל־יָדֶךָ וְהָיוּ לְטֹטָפֹת בֵּין עֵינֶיךָ׃

9  inscribe them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

ט  וּכְתַבְתָּם עַל־מְזוּזֹת בֵּיתֶךָ וּבִשְׁעָרֶיךָ׃

10  When Hashem your God brings you into the land that He swore to your fathers, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yaakov, to assign to you—great and flourishing cities that you did not build,

י  וְהָיָה כִּי יְבִיאֲךָ יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע לַאֲבֹתֶיךָ לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק וּלְיַעֲקֹב לָתֶת לָךְ עָרִים גְּדֹלֹת וְטֹבֹת אֲשֶׁר לֹא־בָנִיתָ׃

11  houses full of all good things that you did not fill, hewn cisterns that you did not hew, vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant—and you eat your fill,

יא  וּבָתִּים מְלֵאִים כָּל־טוּב אֲשֶׁר לֹא־מִלֵּאתָ וּבֹרֹת חֲצוּבִים אֲשֶׁר לֹא־חָצַבְתָּ כְּרָמִים וְזֵיתִים אֲשֶׁר לֹא־נָטָעְתָּ וְאָכַלְתָּ וְשָׂבָעְתָּ׃

12  take heed that you do not forget Hashem who freed you from the land of Egypt, the house of bondage.

יב  הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ פֶּן־תִּשְׁכַּח אֶת־יְהֹוָה אֲשֶׁר הוֹצִיאֲךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים׃

13  Revere only Hashem your God and worship Him alone, and swear only by His name.

יג  אֶת־יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ תִּירָא וְאֹתוֹ תַעֲבֹד וּבִשְׁמוֹ תִּשָּׁבֵעַ׃

14  Do not follow other gods, any gods of the peoples about you

יד  לֹא תֵלְכוּן אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים מֵאֱלֹהֵי הָעַמִּים אֲשֶׁר סְבִיבוֹתֵיכֶם׃

15  for Hashem your God in your midst is an impassioned God—lest the anger of Hashem your God blaze forth against you and He wipe you off the face of the earth.

טו  כִּי אֵל קַנָּא יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בְּקִרְבֶּךָ פֶּן־יֶחֱרֶה אַף־יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בָּךְ וְהִשְׁמִידְךָ מֵעַל פְּנֵי הָאֲדָמָה׃

16  Do not try Hashem your God, as you did at Massah.

טז  לֹא תְנַסּוּ אֶת־יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם כַּאֲשֶׁר נִסִּיתֶם בַּמַּסָּה׃

17  Be sure to keep the commandments, decrees, and laws that Hashem your God has enjoined upon you.

יז  שָׁמוֹר תִּשְׁמְרוּן אֶת־מִצְוׂת יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם וְעֵדֹתָיו וְחֻקָּיו אֲשֶׁר צִוָּךְ׃

18  Do what is right and good in the sight of Hashem, that it may go well with you and that you may be able to possess the good land that Hashem your God promised on oath to your fathers,

יח  וְעָשִׂיתָ הַיָּשָׁר וְהַטּוֹב בְּעֵינֵי יְהֹוָה לְמַעַן יִיטַב לָךְ וּבָאתָ וְיָרַשְׁתָּ אֶת־הָאָרֶץ הַטֹּבָה אֲשֶׁר־נִשְׁבַּע יְהֹוָה לַאֲבֹתֶיךָ׃

19  and that all your enemies may be driven out before you, as Hashem has spoken.

יט  לַהֲדֹף אֶת־כָּל־אֹיְבֶיךָ מִפָּנֶיךָ כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְהֹוָה׃

20  When, in time to come, your children ask you, “What mean the decrees, laws, and rules that Hashem our God has enjoined upon you?”

כ  כִּי־יִשְׁאָלְךָ בִנְךָ מָחָר לֵאמֹר מָה הָעֵדֹת וְהַחֻקִּים וְהַמִּשְׁפָּטִים אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ אֶתְכֶם׃

21  you shall say to your children, “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and Hashem freed us from Egypt with a mighty hand.

כא  וְאָמַרְתָּ לְבִנְךָ עֲבָדִים הָיִינוּ לְפַרְעֹה בְּמִצְרָיִם וַיּוֹצִיאֵנוּ יְהֹוָה מִמִּצְרַיִם בְּיָד חֲזָקָה׃

22  Hashem wrought before our eyes marvelous and destructive signs and portents in Egypt, against Pharaoh and all his household;

כב  וַיִּתֵּן יְהֹוָה אוֹתֹת וּמֹפְתִים גְּדֹלִים וְרָעִים בְּמִצְרַיִם בְּפַרְעֹה וּבְכָל־בֵּיתוֹ לְעֵינֵינוּ׃

23  and us He freed from there, that He might take us and give us the land that He had promised on oath to our fathers.

v’-o-TA-nu ho-TZEE mi-SHAM l’-MA-an ha-VEE o-TA-nu LA-tet LA-nu et ha-A-retz a-SHER nish-BA la-a-vo-TAY-nu

כג  וְאוֹתָנוּ הוֹצִיא מִשָּׁם לְמַעַן הָבִיא אֹתָנוּ לָתֶת לָנוּ אֶת־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע לַאֲבֹתֵינוּ׃

 6:23   And us He freed from there

Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, summed up this verse in a speech he gave to the Peel Commission in 1936. “Three-hundred years ago, there came to the New World a boat, and its name was the Mayflower. The Mayflower’s landing on Plymouth Rock was one of the great historical events in the history of England and in the history of America. But I would like to ask any Englishman sitting here on the commission, what date did the Mayflower leave port? How many people were on the boat? Who were their leaders? What kind of food did they eat on the boat? More than three-thousand three-hundred years ago, long before the Mayflower, our people left Egypt, and every Jew in the world, wherever he is, knows what day they left. And he knows what food they ate. And we still eat that food with every anniversary. And we know who our leader was. And we sit down and tell the story to our children and grandchildren, in order to guarantee that it will never be forgotten. And we say our two slogans: ‘Now we may be enslaved, but next year, we’ll be a free people.’ … Now we are in the prison of the Soviet Union. Now, we’re in Germany where Hitler is destroying us. Now we’re scattered throughout the world, but next year, we’ll be in Jerusalem. There’ll come a day that we’ll come home to Zion, to the Land of Israel. That is the nature of the Jewish people.”1 comment

24  Then Hashem commanded us to observe all these laws, to revere Hashem our God, for our lasting good and for our survival, as is now the case.

כד  וַיְצַוֵּנוּ יְהֹוָה לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת־כָּל־הַחֻקִּים הָאֵלֶּה לְיִרְאָה אֶת־יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ לְטוֹב לָנוּ כָּל־הַיָּמִים לְחַיֹּתֵנוּ כְּהַיּוֹם הַזֶּה׃

25  It will be therefore to our merit before Hashem our God to observe faithfully this whole Instruction, as He has commanded us.”

כה  וּצְדָקָה תִּהְיֶה־לָּנוּ כִּי־נִשְׁמֹר לַעֲשׂוֹת אֶת־כָּל־הַמִּצְוָה הַזֹּאת לִפְנֵי יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּנוּ׃

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Deuteronomy 6

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