Parashat Yisro

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Parshas Yisro is the fifth parsha in the Book of Shemos and the 5th week of Shovavim. It contains 72 pesukim. For the Haftora; Yishayahu's vision of the heavenly throne is read, Ashkanazim continue to read Yishayah's prophecy to Achaz during the attack from the kingdoms of Yisroel and Aram.


[edit] Yisro's Arrival

Yisro, hears of the miracles Hashem performed for Jews and sets out with his daughter Tzipora, the wife of Moshe and their two boys to join the Jews in the desert. Informed of his arrival, Moshe goes out to greet Yitro and informs him of Hashem's miracles. Yisro is joyous from the news and blesses Hashem, then offers sacrifices to Him. Aharon and the Elders eat a feast with Yisro while Moshe attends their needs.

[edit] The Decision

Yitro the former High Priest of Midyon, hears all the miracles that Hashem performed for the Jews and Moshe who was equal to the entire Nation,[1] especially the splitting of the sea, the battle with Amelek,[1] the Manna, the Well[1] and primarily how Hashem took his people out of Egypt. Exodus from Egypt was the greatest of all.[1], especially for Yisro who had been a high ranking Egyption advisor and knew their power and strategies.

He had also been told by Tziporah how Moshe was saved from near death by a serpent like angle after procrastinating to circumcise Eliezer.[2] Yitro takes his daughter Tzipora, Moshe's wife and her two sons Gershom and Eliezer and travels to Moshe who is encamped with the Jewish Nation by Mount Sini. Tzipora and the two kids had originally left Midyon with Moshe. When on route at Har Sinai they met Aharon, he rebuked his brother for bringing more people to suffer in the servitude of Egypt and Moshe sent them back to Yisro's home.[3] Gershom was named after Moshe's stature as a foreigner in a strange land and Eliezer was named in commemoration of Hashem saving him from the sword of Pharaoh's executioner by having his neck harden to a state of marble,[4] after the snitching of Dassan and Aviram[5] of his slaying the Egyptian taskmaster.

Originally while living in Midyon Moshe had credited his stature to Yisro. Now Yisro prided himself as being the father-in-law of King Moshe.[1] Yitro led a very physically comfortable life in Midyon, even after his excommunication[6] yet he forfeited it and for the sake of hearing the teachings of the Torah and traveled to live in the barren wilderness.[7]

[edit] Seven Names of Yitro

  1. Yisro (יִתְרוֹ) - An upgrade of his previous name Yeser, he had a letter 'vav' added to his name following his conversion and fulfillment of the commandments.[1]
  2. Yeser (יֶתֶר) - Because he caused an extra section to be added to the Torah regarding his system of national juridical support.[1]
  3. Reuel - Possibly was also[6] the name of his father.[1]
  4. Chovav (חוֹבָב) - Since he loved the Torah.[1]
  5. Chever[1]
  6. Kani[1]
  7. Putiel[1] - Because he fattened calves for idolatrous sacrifices (Pitem / פִּטֵּם). [8]

[edit] The Message

From outside the camp Yisro noticed[6] one of the tents had a cloud hovering above it, he immediately knew this was the tent of Moshe.[9] Yitro sends a messenger[10] to Moshe announcing their arrival and requesting that Moshe come out in his honor. If Yisro was not enough of a reason, then Moshe should come out in honor of his wife, if that was not enough then he should do so for his two children.[11]

[edit] The Greeting

Moshe goes out to great them and is followed by Aharon who in-turn is followed by Nadav and Avihu and the Seventy Elders. Everyone who saw this assemblage joined the crowed, giving Yisro great honor.[12] Moshe prostrated himself, kisses and welcomes his father in law and they then enter the tent.

[edit] His Friend

Moshe who received the Torah from the mouth of Hashem was on a much greater level then Yitro who had just arrived from very deep impurity where he had spent time serving every pagan deity that existed. Yet despite this and the fact that Yitro had not even converted yet, Moshe referred to him as 'his friend' since it is the custom of true Tzadikim to lower themselves and befriend anyone that has intentions to draw close to the 'Truth'.[13]

[edit] The Acknowledgment

In order to attract his heart and draw Yisro close to the Torah, Moshe informs him all that Hashem did to Pharaoh and the Egyptians and about the travails of the sea and Amelek. Yisro is happy about the miracles of the Manna, the well,[14] the Torah laws[15] they had been given so far[6] and primarily regarding salvation of the Jews. Having previously been part of the Egyptian society, Yitro was well aware of their toughness and the hardness of Pharoah himself.[16] He also knew that to that day no slave had ever manged to escape from Egypt[17] due to physical defenses and occult spells[6] and now a Nation of over a million people had managed to flee. Yet at the same time Yisro's body felt as if it was being pricked by needles at the news of the Egyptians demise since he himself was a gentile.[18]

Yisro proceeds to bless Hashem for saving the Jews from the tyrannization and domination of the of the strong Egyptians and Pharoah, their strong king.[19] Yitro acknowledges that although he knew about Hashem in the past,[20] he now fully recognizes His greatness. Yisro was knowledgeable in all the pagan deities that existed and had formerly tried worshiping them all, his recognition of Hashem's complete supremacy was an important thing. At that moment Hashem's name became glorified in all the Upper and Lower Realms[21] since Hashem's main glory is specifically when those that are furthest from Him come close.[22] Having taken part in the original conference regarding the drowning of the Jewish male new born,[6] Yisro was very impressed that the Egyptians had been punished in the same exact method of death through water,[23] in the very pot in which they cooked, they themselves were cooked.[20]

[edit] The Feast

Yitro then offers a sacrifices to Hashem including an Olah that was completely burnt and Shilomim where parts of the sacrifice were eaten.[24] Aharon and the elders come to eat with Yitro while Moshe served and attended to all their needs.[25] Like all other feasts attended by Torah scholars, participating in it was equivalent to enjoying the glory of the Shchina.[26]

[edit] Yisro's Advice

[edit] Moshe's Judging

On the day following Yom Kipor, the day after Moshe descended from Har Sinai,[27] he began to judge the nation. (This section of the Torah occurred on the 2nd year following the Jewish exodus from Egypt and is not written in chronological order).[27]Rashi Shemos 18:11</ref> People would come to him from the morning to the night. Moshe would sit like a king and the people would stand. Upon Yisro's inquiry to what was happening, Moshe replied that the people were coming to seek the teachings of Hashem[28] and to judge cases between a man and his neighbor. Yitro rebukes Moshe, saying it is not a good system and it will cause him, Aharon and the 70 Elders to wither since its weight is greater than his strength.[29] Additionally he reproved Moshe for belittling the respect of the people and siting while they all stand.[27]

[edit] From Morning to Evening

Although it was not possible the Moshe could judge the Nation every single moment form the morning until the evening, since he would issue true verdicts it was considered as if he was engaged in Torah study for the entire day and as if he was a partner in Hashem in the act of Creation.[27]

[edit] The Advice

Yitro then advises him to serve only as a representative, messenger and an intermediary[30] between the Jews and Hashem bringing their matters and quarrels before Him.[30] Moshe can then admonish the Jews concerning the statutes and teachings and teach them how to advance and what deeds they should do. For all the smaller issues Moshe should use his Roach Hakodesh to appoint[31] powerful, truthful men who fear Hashem and despise bribers as sub officers under him. There would be four ranks; officers over ten, officers of fifty, officers of one hundred and officers of one thousand. They will judge the smaller cases of the Jews at all times and the larger cases they will pass up until it reaches Moshe himself.

Yisro tells Moshe to run his advice past Hashem and see if He approves it.[30] This system make the burden easier for Moshe to bear, allowing him to survive along with Aharon, Nadav and Avihu who accompany him and to bring the Jews to their place in peace, assuming that the plan is endorsed by Hashem.[32]

[edit] Qualifications

  • Men who fear Hashem (יראי אלוקים) -
  • Men of substance (אנשי חיל) - Wealthy men, who do not have to flatter or show favoritism.[31]
  • Men of truth (אנשי אמת) - Men who keep their promises, upon whose words one may rely, and causing their commands to be obeyed.[31]
  • Men who hate monetary gain (שנאי בצע) - Men who hate to have their own property in litigation since any judge from whom money is exacted through litigation is not fit to be a judge.[31]

[edit] Bureaucratic Structure

  • Leaders over thousands = 600
  • Leaders over hundreds = 6,000
  • Leaders over fifties = 12,000
  • Leaders over tens = 60,000
  • General adult population = 600,000[31]

[edit] Implementation

Moshe listens to the advice of Yisro and appoints officers creating the advised system of national support. Moshe chose men of substance from all the Jews, appointing them as leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds, leaders of fifties, and leaders of tens. They would judge the people at all times; the difficult case they would bring to Moshe, but any minor case they would judge themselves.

[edit] Departure of Yitro

After this Moshe sends Yisro back home to Midyon. Yisro leave with the intent of going home to convert the members of his family.[33]

[edit] Perpetration to Receive Torah

[edit] First Ascent

On Rosh Chodesh Sivan,[34] the 3rd month of the Biblical calendar year, around two and a half months after leaving Egypt, the Jews arrive in the Sinai desert after journeying from Rephidim and camp across from Mount Sinai. Moshe ascends the mountain and Hashem commands him to relate to the women and men of Israel, reminding them what he did to Egypt and how he carried them on eagle wings. If the Jews now agree to follow Him then they will serve as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

Moshe descends and relates this message to the Jewish elders. The entire nation answers they are willing to commit to whatever Hashem wishes even before they hear the actual request.

[edit] A Unified Camp

When the Jews camped at Har Sinai, it was as one man with one heart.[35] Torah is a way for Hashem to channel Divine Light upon the Jews, however proper vessels are need to receive it properly. In accordance with the level of the particular Torah and Light being given, so too is strength of the vessels necessary to contain it. On higher levels of Torah, the vessels required are more then what any individual can offer and can only be produced through a group effort, where multiple Jewish souls are united together to create the necessary vessels. Such unification can only be attained when the members of the group are at complete peace and love each other with a full heart. For a revelation as profound as the Giving of the Torah, it was necessary for a unification of 600,000 Jewish men to produce the vessels that could contain such Light.[36]

[edit] Second Ascent

Moshe ascends a second time and gives the answer to Hashem Who then informs him that he will speak the commandments to him in the thickness of the cloud so the Jews will overhear their conversation and will believe in Moshe as well.

[edit] Third Ascent

Moshe ascends a third time and petitions for the request of the Jews. Hashem tells him to go purify the nation and be prepared for the giving of the Torah on the third day. Preparation will include a washing of the garments and the marking of an uncrossable boundary around Mount Sinai. A warning is then given that anyone who tries to climb the mountain before the ending trumpet sounds will get thrown down and stoned, regardless of whether they are human of animal they will not live.

Moshe descends the mountain and purifies the Jews having them wash their garments. He also warns them not to have marital relationships for the following three days.

[edit] The Fence

There is no ecstasy greater then the higher levels of Holiness, especially for Jews that crave Holiness. Therefore there were multiple warnings and precautions given lest some Jews loose themselves in the heat of the moment and try surging up Har Sinai in effort to transcend to higher levels.[6]

[edit] Giving of the Torah

On the third day in the morning there were sounds and thunder and a heavy cloud descended upon Mount Sinai. A powerful shofar blew and the Jews in the camp were terrified. Moshe leads the Jews out of the camp towards Hashem and has them stand at the foot of the mountain. Hashem descends upon Mount Sinai in fire causing it to smoke and quiver with fear. Moshe ascends to the top of the mountain. Hashem tell Moshe to descend and warn the Jews not to approach the mountain as that can lead to the death of many. Even the first born who still served as priests at that point are warned not to approach. Moshe replies that the warning is unnecessary since he had previously warned them regarding this. Hashem insists on the additional warning and Moshe descends and warns the Jews.

[edit] The Ten Commandments

The sound of the shofar becomes louder and louder, Moshe speaks and Hahsem replies in a loud voice. Hashem then speaks the ten commandments.

  1. I am Hashem that took you out of the servitude of Egypt.
  2. Do not serve other gods and do not create any idol or pagan image.
  3. Do not mention the name of Hashem for no reason.
  4. Remember to sanctify the Shabbat.
  5. Honor your father and mother.
  6. Do not murder
  7. Do not commit adultery
  8. Do not steal
  9. Do not serve as a false witness against your friend
  10. Do not envy all that belongs to your friend

The entire nation sees the sounds, the fire, the blow of the shofar and the smoking mountain, they step back and stand in the distance. They then tell Moshe to serve as in intermediary as they fear death if Hashem continues to speak. Moshe informs them that Hashem spoke to test them and instill fear upon them so they do not sin. The Nation stands distant and Moshe enters the fog where Hashem is.

[edit] Attack of the Angles

Each and every Mitzvah and letter of the Torah contains tremendous, profound and holy wisdom which the angels delight to study. When Moshe ascended to Heaven, the Angles wanted to attack him for trying to take the Torah away from them. Moshe responded that at the end of the day, the sole objective of any wisdom is only to extract advice and success tactics from it. This also applies to the Holy Torah, the true wisdom, whose final purpose is only to provide advice and tactics for eternal spiritual success. It is for this reason that main goal of the Torah is not its actual study but rather the actions that result from it. This hardly applies to the angles who do not have jealousy, lust, etc.. but is very vital to the lowly humans who desperately need the advice that can be extracted from the Torah.[37]

[edit] With One Eye

Even at the Giving of the Torah, the Jews had notions of abandoning Holiness and already had one eye glancing away in the direction of idolatry, a much easier spiritual path. This is mentioned in the verse "You have captivated my heart, my sister, my bride; you have captivated my heart with one of your eyes". Despite this, even the momentary closeness of the Jews was very precious in Hashem's eyes since He values the drawing close in itself. This also applies to a person that began serving Hashem but then abandons it, falling to low places. Despite this, the limited time itself where the individual was close to Hashem remains very precious in His eyes, regardless of what happened with the person afterwords.[38]

[edit] Loan of Creation

Hashem sustained the Universe from its creation until the Giving of the Torah out kindness and as a loan that would be repaid once the Jews received the Torah.[39]

[edit] The Nine Laws

Hashem then gives over nine additional laws to Moshe.

  1. It is forbidden to create and image of any celestial entity.
  2. It is forbidden to create the Kiruvim of the Mishkan out of silver.
  3. It is forbidden to create more then the instructed two Kiruvim
  4. It is forbidden to create Kiruvim for Synagogues
  5. To create an alter which will rest on the actual ground and will be filled with dirt each time it is set up at a new encampment.
  6. Sacrifices are to be slaughtered alongside the alter.
  7. It is permissible to pronounce the Tetragrammaton in the Temple.
  8. It is forbidden to carve and shape the stones of the alter with metal tools.
  9. Ascending to the top of the alter must be done through the use of a ramp and not stairs.

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Rashi Shemos 18:1
  2. ^ Baal Haturim
  3. ^ Rashi
  4. ^ Rashi
  5. ^ Rashi
  6. ^ a b c d e f g Shover Zadim Parshas Yisro
  7. ^ Rashi
  8. ^ Rashi Shemos 6:25
  9. ^ Baal Haturim
  10. ^ Rashi
  11. ^ Rashi
  12. ^ Rashi
  13. ^ LH YD Hil Bichor Behima Tehora 4:22
  14. ^ Rashi
  15. ^ Rashi
  16. ^ Rashi
  17. ^ Rashi
  18. ^ Rashi
  19. ^ Rashi Shemos 18:10
  20. ^ a b Rashi Shemos 18:11
  21. ^ Zohar
  22. ^ Likutay Halachos, Kriyas Hatorah 6/17-25
  23. ^ Rashi
  24. ^ Rashi
  25. ^ Rashi
  26. ^ Rashi
  27. ^ a b c d Rashi Shemos 18:13
  28. ^ Rashi Shemos 18:15
  29. ^ Rashi Shemos 18:18
  30. ^ a b c Rashi Shemos 18:19
  31. ^ a b c d e Rashi Shemos 18:21
  32. ^ Rashi Shemos 18:23
  33. ^ Rashi Shemos 18:27
  34. ^ Rashi Shemos 19:01
  35. ^ Rashi Shemos 19/02
  36. ^ Based on Likutay Halachos, Tfilas Mincha 7:54
  37. ^ Likutay Halachos, Tanis 4:14
  38. ^ Sichos Haran 123
  39. ^ Likutay Halachos, Choshen Mishpat, Hilchos DHaose Shliach Ligbos Chovo 2/22
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