Parshas Va'eschanan continues with Moshe Rabeinu's rebuke of the Jewish nation right before he is to pass away, as the Jews are poised just across the Jordan river from entering into the holy land.
In the first aliyah Moshe recounts how he pleaded with G-d to let him enter Israel, but that Moshe wasn't allowed to enter the land because of the incident of the waters of Maribah where he struck the rock. Instead Moshe was allowed to see the Promised Land from the top of a mountain. At the end of the aliyah, Moshe discusses the incident of the Baal Peor where many Jews died as a result of their idol worship. He says this as a warning to get the Jewish people to heed the laws that will soon be reviewed.
In the second aliyah, Moshe tells the Jewish people that they are a unique nation and that G-d has dealt uniquely with them taking them from the midst of another nation with miracles and wonders. Also, the Jewish people heard G-d's voice out of heaven when they stood before Mount Sinai and received the Torah and knew that there is none other beside G-d. Moshe continues that we should always remember this and teach our children and children's children this same teaching. We should keep His laws and not stray after other gods.
This aliyah also contains a hint that the Jews will eventually be exiled from Israel because of their wrongdoing and be scattered among the nations as we are now. But Moshe goes on to say that we will eventually return to G-d, and if we seek G-d with all our heart and soul we will find G-d.
In the third aliyah, Moshe designates three cities of refuge on the side of the Jordan River opposite Israel for use by the tribes that were going to settle there. These cities are for someone to flee to if they kill someone inadvertently. This aliyah also describes this land to the east of the Jordan.
In the fourth aliyah Moshe repeats the Ten Commandments that the Jewish people originally received at Mount Sinai, that we read about in parsha Yisro, in the book of Shmos.
The Ten Commandments are:
- Believe in G-d
- Do not worship idols
- Do not use G-d's name in vain
- Remember Shabbos to keep it holy
- Honor your father and mother
- You shall not kill
- You shall not commit adultery
- You shall not steal
- You shall not be a false witness
- You shall not be jealous of your friend's possessions
It is a custom that we all stand while listening to the 10 Commandments being read.
In the fifth aliyah Moshe gives a lot of "behind the scenes" detail of what went on during the giving of the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai. It says here that G-d spoke the words out of the midst of fire and thick darkness and with a great voice. The words were written on the two luchos (tablets). During this, the heads of the tribes came to Moshe and told him that they don't think they can survive such a great revelation. They said that Moshe, alone, should hear the rest of the Torah directly from G-d, and afterward, to tell it to them and they will do it.
The sixth aliyah begins with the well-known "Shema Yisroel" prayer that we say every morning and evening and that we are sure to teach our children. It contains the mitzvot of, among other things, tefillin and mezuzahs. In fact, this passage is part of what is written on the parchment inside our tefillin and inside our mezuzahs. The words "You shall speak of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk on the road, when you lie down, and when you rise" are contained here. "When you sit in your house" can be interpreted to mean, "when a soul is in heaven waiting to be born." "When you walk on the road" means when the soul in placed in a body who then lives its life on earth. "When you lie down" means when the person passes away. "And when you rise" means when that the person is resurrected during "techiyas hameisim" (resurrection of the dead) when Moshiach comes, may he come speedily in our days, Amen.
The aliyah then continues with G-d promising us a land of plenty, but that we should not forget G-d, who brought us out of Egypt, and out of slavery.
The seventh aliyah says that when we get to Israel, G-d will uproot the seven Canaanite nations for us, and we are to utterly destroy them and show them no consideration. Moreover, we are not to intermarry with them. Then we are told that G-d chose us to be his treasured people out of all the nations.
Moshe ends the parsha by telling us that G-d is faithful to keep His covenant with those that love him and keep his commandments, therefore we should keep his mitzvahs and do them.