"And you shall love the L‑rd your G‑d…." (Deut. 6:5)

The conjunctive letter vov [‘and’] 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 L‑rd. The Zohar (vol. 3, page 56) spells this out.

...after we have achieved a degree of fear of the L‑rd, we will be able to develop love for Him.

Thus, the letter vov means that after we have achieved a degree of fear of the L‑rd, we will be able to develop love for Him. The reason the Torah uses the word "et" which implies joining something, is to teach us that the means to develop an attachment to G‑d is by loving G‑d in addition to fearing Him.

"And these words…shall be upon your heart." (Deut. 6:6)

In accordance with our commentary on the previous verse, we must view this verse as a sort of band-aid for a person who suffers from the dearth of one of the three basic values in this life described in the Talmud. (Moed Katan 28) The Torah recommends that anyone who suffers from any of these three deprivations –- children, health, food — should take our commentary to heart. He should remember that these values (blessings) which he lacks are grossly overrated in the overall scheme of G‑d’s universe in which the life in the hereafter is the real objective.

Another lesson our verse wishes to teach the Israelite is that love is not something a person is able to force upon his will to carry out as he can subjugate his will to that of his king and carry out the king’s orders. Love is something that is not subservient to willpower but to one’s heart. As long as the heart itself does not feel an impulse which causes it to develop a liking for someone or something the owner (of this heart) cannot force it to respond to his urgings. In light of this, our verse advises that if you keep all these afore-mentioned considerations "on your heart" – our heart will begin to develop a desire of a spiritual nature for affinity with G‑d, and this will in turn develop into love for G‑d.

We ourselves, who are but spiritual orphans when compared to earlier generations, and who are certainly full of 'ta'ava', burning desires for the sensual things in life, must develop a corresponding desire for closeness to G‑d. It must surpass the intensity of our desire for transient values such as women, food, honor, etc. Hail to us if we can develop such feelings.

[Selected with permission from the five-volume English edition of "Ohr HaChaim: the Torah Commentary of Rabbi Chaim Ben Attar" by Eliyahu Munk.]