What are the explanations of the Vav of Veahavta in the Shema as it comes to add something?

  • 1
    Why shouldn’t it be there?
    – DonielF
    Commented Dec 17, 2018 at 13:25
  • It is after the statement shema. You need: listen and love
    – kouty
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 3:28

2 Answers 2


The Sforno seems to say that the vav "you will then enjoy doing things which are pleasing to Him when you understand that there is nothing in this world which is more worth doing."

The kitzur Bal Haturim says that the vav is necessary so that the word v'ahavta has the same letters as "ha'avot" (the forefathers) so it can invoke them and their lives.

The Ohr Hachaim writes

The conjunctive letter ו means that not only is there a commandment to accept the authority of the Kingdom of G'd but there is an additional commandment to love G'd. The sequence of the verses also teaches that we must not make the mistake of believing that love of G'd is possible without an initial dose of fear of the Lord. The Zohar volume three page 56 spells this out. The letter ו then means that after we have achieved a degree of fear of the Lord we will be able to develop love for Him. The reason the Torah uses the word את which implies joining something, is to teach us that the means to develop דבקות ה׳, an affinity for G'd, is by loving G'd in addition to fearing Him.

I am no expert on biblical grammar but on a simpler level, there is a notion of a vav hahipuch (according to some) which changes the tense of a word -- here, Ahavta, a past tense verb is changed to the future (and you shall love).

  • Regarding your final statement, couldn't the Torah have written תאהב את ה' אלהיך?
    – ezra
    Commented Dec 17, 2018 at 18:06
  • You're saying that Sforno is saying that the ו indicates that this pasuk results from the statement made in the previous one (i.e. "שמע")?
    – WAF
    Commented Dec 17, 2018 at 18:33
  • @ezra the question of why the Torah would ever use a vav hahipuch instead of the simpler future tense is a question I posted last year IIRC.
    – rosends
    Commented Dec 17, 2018 at 19:45
  • @WAF yes, the Sforno doesn't see loving as a commandment but as a logical conclusion.
    – rosends
    Commented Dec 17, 2018 at 19:46

Simple explanation

This is called vav hahipuch or the "reversing" vav. It is a common Biblical technique to add a vav at the beginning of a verb. The reversal changes a past tense verb into the future and a future tense verb to the past.

In this case, the verb ahavta would mean "you loved". Having the vav in front makes the term mean "You shall love", meaning the future tense.

I'm not sure why the Bible uses this technique. That's probably worth asking a separate question.

  • Vav hahupuch is not with patach and daggesh chazak afterwards, despite that alef is not able to wear a dagesh chazak, in this case, the vav will wear a komots
    – kouty
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 3:26
  • @kouty - I am not following your point as it relates, here. Another indication of vav hipuch is that the accent on the verb is usually milra, as it is here. If it was pronounced Ve-oh-HAV-ta, th emeaning is changed and the vav would mean "and".
    – DanF
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 17:48
  • OK thanks. I need to learn this in michlol
    – kouty
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 19:44
  • You are right, the rule I mentioned is for hinouch meatid leavar e.g. Vyyomer. But for meavar meatid it's with a Sheva
    – kouty
    Commented Dec 19, 2018 at 19:53

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