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Deuteronomy 6:5-9 “And you shall love the Eternal One your God with your whole heart, with every breath, with all that you have. Take these words that I command you now to heart. Teach them intently to your children; speak of them when sitting in your house and walking on the road, when lying down and getting up. Bind them as a sign upon your hand and as a symbol between your eyes. Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
 

ואהבת is a verb form which occurs continually in Biblical Hebrew, but never in modern Hebrew. The prefix vav has its normal meaning “and”… but it also converts the past tense verb אהבת “you loved” into the future tense “you shall love.”

In Biblical Hebrew, the prefix vav also converts future tense verbs into the past tense. For example ידברmeans “he will speak” but
וידבר means “and he spoke.” Because of these remarkable properties, grammarians refer to it as the “vav conversive.”

After thanking God—in the ahavat olam prayer at night or the ahava raba prayer in the morning—for manifesting love for us by giving us the Torah, we now read the familiar passage from Deuteronomy that requires us, in turn, to demonstrate our love for God by studying the Torah and living according to its teachings.

The command to “bind [God’s teaching] as a sign upon your hand and as a symbol between your eyes” evolved, in rabbinic times, into the תפלין tefilin (literally, “prayer-boxes”)—containing the above paragraph from Deuteronomy—that observant Jews place upon their left arms and their foreheads during the morning service (on weekdays but not on Shabbat).

The command to “write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates” evolved, in rabbinic times, into the מזוזות mezuzot —containing the above paragraph from Deuteronomy—that adorn the doorways of most Jewish homes. Indeed, the Hebrew word for “doorposts” is מזוזות mezuzot.

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