Weekly Reading Insights: Yitro 5765


Overview of the Weekly Reading: Yitro

To be read on 19 Shvat 5765 (Jan.29)

Torah: Exodus 18:1-20:23; Haftorah: Isaiah 6:1-7:6 (because of resemblence to vision at Mt. Sinai)
Yitro is the 5th Reading out of 11 in Exodus and 17th overall, and 46th out of 54 in overall length.

Yitro, Moshe's father-in-law, came with Moshe's wife and sons to join the Jews. Yitro suggested that Moshe delegate the job of judging to leaders of thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. The Jews were given three days to sanctify themselves and a barrier was built around Mt. Sinai in preparation for G-d's revelation there. The Ten Commandments were said{1. 'I am the L-rd your G-d who brought you out of Egypt..." 2. Prohibition to believe in other gods and worship idols 3. Prohibition to take G-d's name in vain 4. Remember the Shabbat and keep it holy 5. Honor parents 6. Do not murder 7. Do not commit adultery 8. Do not steal 9. Do not bear false witness 10. Do not envy}. The direct revelation of the first two was too strong for the Jews, so they asked Moshe to hear the remaining ones for them. The Jews were also commanded not to make physical representations of G-d, and to make an earth-filled altar of unhewn stone with an ascension ramp.


From the holy Zohar, teachings of Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai (Z:17-65/Yitro)

We recite a blessing over the light reflected in them - signifying that everything reflects the power of the holy - even in that which appears furthest away.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the holy Ari, Rabbi Yitzchak Luria of Safed (A:17-65/Yitro)

The explanation is based on what we have said, that Jethro was a reincarnation of Cain and was now coming to [Abel's reincarnation, Moses] to rectify [what he had damaged].

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.

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From the Shelah, Shney Luchot HaBrit by Rabbi Isaiah Horowitz (S:17-65/Yitro)

Five of the Ten Commandments deal with the honor of the Almighty, the Creator, whereas the other five address the well-being of humankind. The commandment to honor father and mother is a part of the commandments honoring G-d Himself, since by honoring one's father and one's mother one honors G-d, because G-d is a partner in the formation of any human being.

For the full article, click to the "Weekly Torah" section on our KabbalaOnline site.


"For by the very thing in which they sinned was punishment brought upon them." (18:11)
A person's punishment is determined by his own judgment of others: When a Jew sees someone transgressing and immediately "sentences" that person in his heart, he is thereby fixing his own sentence, as the sin most certainly exists in him as well.
(Baal Shem Tov) (from L'Chaim #754)

(Tu B'Shvat)

Rabban Gamliel lectured: "In the future [Redemption] the trees will bring forth fruit every day, for it is said 'And it shall produce boughs, and bear fruit' (Ezek. 17:23). I.e., just as boughs are produced every day so also will fruit be brought forth every day.
(Talmud Shabbat 30b) (from L'Chaim #704)


from the Chabad Master series, produced by Rabbi Yosef Marcus for

www.ascentofsafed.com and www.kabbalaonline.org


"You shall say to the House of Jacob and tell the Children of Israel." (Ex. 19:3)
Our Sages say that the "House of Jacob" refers to the women, and the "Children of Israel" to the men. When G-d gave the Torah, He told Moses to first approach the women and only after the men. Since the exodus from Egypt occurred by virtue of the righteous women of that generation, when G-d gave the Torah, the women were given preference. The final Redemption, too, will be by virtue of the righteous women, as the Midrash states: "All generations are redeemed by virtue of the righteous women of their generation." Thus the women will be first to receive the wondrous teachings of Moshiach.
(Lubavitcher Rebbe) (from L'Chaim #754)

[Reprinted with permission from L'Chaim Magazine (www.lchaim.org).]

An essay from Rabbi Shaul Yosef Leiter, director of Ascent

(for a free weekly email subscription, click here) (W:17-65/Yitro)

In a recent chassidic gathering in connection with Yud Shvat, someone relayed an insight from the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

The entire year, from the end of the High Holy Days to their beginning the following year, is like a train hurtling forward as we proceed through the events of our life. Each special day -- a holiday, Shabbos, or simply a day that is particularly special to you -- are the stops and stations.

Just like on a train, where there are the shorter "whistle stops" in the lesser locals where someone can only get on quickly, and bigger cities, where the stop is longer so not only more people but even animals and packages can be loaded, so too with our journey.

The "less important holidays" give us a quick lift, while the longer, more substantial holidays allow us to load up our "animals", referring to our negative traits and our packages, to rectify our past and deal with our particular issues.

Shabbos Parshat Yitro is one of the important stops because it returns us again to the momentous event of the giving of the Torah. Our Shulchan Aruch, the Code of Jewish Law, requires from us that just as the first time the Torah was given, when everyone present was trembling and sweating in awe and fear, so too now, when we study Torah, and even more, when we read about the giving of the Torah, it must be with awe and fear, trembling and sweat.

And since this is asked of every Jew, without exception, it must be that each of us was given the strength and ability to make it happen, for it is a Torah principle that G-d only asks from us what we are able.

Still, the first Rebbe of Chabad, Schneur Zalman, asks the question-how can this be? Regarding the Giving of the Torah, it says, "And G-d came down on Mount Sinai", and this is besides what the ancient commentaries tell us, that the divine chariot and troops of angels could be seen by all and were thundering in a way that was deafening.

Still, when it came time for G-d to speak, from all four directions, and from above and below, only the words of the Ten Commandments could be heard. No wonder they were trembling! How can you demand the same from a person now when he opens up a Torah book or hears the Torah being read?

His answer is simple. A Jew is above all limitations of time and space. When we learn Torah, even now, exactly the events that happened on Mount Sinai are happening again!

The Lubavitcher Rebbe explains that one of the reasons for this is that the awe and trembling of the Jewish people at that time was not because of the divine chariot or the angels, but rather because G-d was giving over something private, something of personal pleasure to Him: His Will and Wisdom, something that was really never meant to be revealed. At Mount Sinai the Jewish people experienced G-d giving us the Torah. This is why they trembled.

Regarding the Erev Rav, the non Jews that accompanied the Jews at the time of the Exodus, it says that they saw, and shook and stood from afar. This is telling us that they needed the angels to arouse them.

Not so for a Jew. His soul is literally a portion of G-d. It is not the angels or the chariot or the seraphim or the chayot, or even all of the deafening sounds then or even the deafening sound of the world now that moves them. Rather it is the fact that the essence of G-d is being revealed, to the point that you can actually experience the words, "I, Anochi, am G-d, your Lord."

Shabbat Shalom, Shaul

P.S. Please also read my weekly Shabbat Law, below.)

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