This week’s parsha starts with the assertion that: “Not with our fathers did God cut this covenant, but with us, yes, those here today.” But when this parsha takes place, the people who were present at Mt. Sinai are all dead, with the exception of Moses, Joshua and Caleb! The people listening to Moses in Vaetchanan are their children!
Then the parsha restates the Ten Commandments:
1. I am the Lord your God. Have no other gods besides me.
2. Don’t worship idols.
3. Don’t use the name of God for a false purpose.
4. Honor the Sabbath and don’t let anyone, including your animals, your servants and your guests, do any work.
5. Honor your father and your mother.
6. Don’t murder.
7. Don’t cheat on your spouse.
8. Don’t steal.
9. Don’t lie when you’re acting as a witness.
10. Don’t crave other people’s belongings.
This parsha is kind of a Bible Hit Parade. Not only do we get the Ten Commandments, but right afterward, we get the Sh’ma and the Ve’ahavta!
After the Ve’ahavta, God reminds us that, when we enter the land of Canaan and have all sorts of good stuff, we should not forget God. We are not to “walk after other (Canaanite) gods.”
And then we have another passage, one that reminds us of Passover: “When your child asks you ‘What do these guidelines and rules mean?’ Then you are to say ‘We were slaves in Egypt and God took us out with a strong hand, in order to bring us to Canaan. God keeps our covenant of loyalty with those who love him to the thousandth generation.’”
Food for Thought
Why does God say the covenant was made, not with our fathers, but with us?