פ’ יתרו – תשע”ה
Volume 7, Issue 5
INSIGHTS from the SEDRA
Insights from the Sedra is a project of the Scholar’s Kollel of Great Neck. It aims to provide several questions and answers about the Sedra, culled from various commentaries, including the following: Baal Haturim, Darash Moshe, Vedebarta Bam by Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, Torah Treasures by Dov Furer, Wellsprings of Torah by Alexander Friedman, and Kol Dodi by Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Great Torah Lights by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Goodman, Something To Say by Dov Wasserman, The Vilna Gaon, and Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin.
Parshas Yisro is named for Yisro, the priest of Midian, who for many years was an ardent idol worshipper and even held the title of the high priest of the community. However, when Yisro saw the miracles and wonders that Hashem performed for Bnei Yisrael in Egypt and the wilderness, he fully accepted Hashem and merited having his name eternalized in this Parsha which includes Matan Torah.
Our Sages note in praise, Yisro’s quality of Hachnasas Orchim to Moshe when he fled Egypt. In reward for telling his daughters to call him and he will eat bread, he merited having his grandsons sit in the vestibule on Har Habayis where the Sages of the Sanhedrin gathered in the times of the Beis HaMikdash (Sanhedrin 104). Yisro’s kindness to Moshe, the pursued refugee, merited him to have offspring with the highest level of Kehuna. Thus, we understand that we must not judge a man for his past and for his family history, but for his way of life, his deeds and his behavior toward his fellow man. (Torah Gems)
ויקח יתרו חתן משה את צפרה אשת משה…ואת שתי בניה
“And Yisro, the father-in-law of Moshe, took Tzipporah, Moshe’s wife…and her two sons…” (18:2-3)
It is interesting to note that the Torah refers to Moshe and Tzipporah’s sons as “her two sons.” Were they only Tzipporah’s sons? Harav Mordechai Gifter asserts that the education parents impart to their child establishes the tenor of the relationship between them. From the time Moshe left Midian – at the behest of Hashem to lead Bnei Yisrael out of Egypt – until this moment, Tzipporah guided their children’s education. This is the reason that they are referred to as “her two sons.”
This remarkable insight into parenting and education should serve as a lesson for us all. The education we avail our children will ultimately make the difference in their relationship with us. All too often our decisions regarding the type of school, the form of education, and its level of religious persuasion are based upon our own life experiences, socioeconomic pressures, and random external factors. The only motivating factor in determining a child’s education should be what is best for the child and where he or she will receive the utmost spiritual refinement. The educational decisions we make for our children when they are youngsters can either be the greatest source of nachas for us or can forever haunt us. (Peninim on the Torah)
בחדש השלישי לצאת בני ישראל מארץ מצרים ביום הזה באו מדבר סיני
“In the third month from the Exodus of the Children of Israel from Egypt, on this day they arrived at the Wilderness of Sinai.” (19:1)
Instead of teaching that Klal Yisrael arrived “on that day,” the Torah stresses “on this day.” Chazal (Midrash Tanchuma Yisro 13:13) explain that the Torah is conveying to us a message: The words of Torah must be new and beloved as if they were given on this day – today.
An old object loses its significance in man’s eyes because he no longer sees a need for it. Man is constantly impressed by innovations, and he discards the old. However, if he would truly value something, he would never discard it just because of its age. Food does not lose its significance just because one eats it so often! The same is true of light. Does anyone question its value just because he is accustomed to it? To one who knows Torah’s true significance, the Torah never loses its valuable status. It remains as important today as it was on the day it was given over three thousand years ago. (Rabbi Gifter)
ויחן שם ישראל נגד ההר
“And the Israelites encamped there near the mountain.” (19:2)
The word the Torah uses for encamped, “Vayichan”, is in the singular. This, says Rashi, is because they were as one unit: “As one person with one heart.” Rav Yeruchem Levovitz commented that from here we see that love of our fellow man is a prerequisite for accepting the Torah.
Rabbi Yitzchok of Vorki noted that the word Vayichan besides meaning encamped also comes from the word chain, finding favor. That is, the people found favor in the eyes of one another and therefore found favor in the eyes of the Almighty. When you see the faults and shortcomings of another person, you become distant from him. But when you see the good and positive in other people, you become closer to them. This unity is a fundamental requirement for accepting the Torah. How is this developed? We find in Nachal Kidumim that togetherness between people is possible only when there is humility. When the Israelites came to Mount Sinai, which is the symbol of humility, they internalized this attribute.
When you have humility, you do not feel a need to gain power over others or feel above them by focusing on their faults. When you have the trait of humility you can allow yourself to see the good in others. The traits of love for others, seeing good in them, and having humility go hand in hand. By growing in these traits you make yourself into a more elevated person who is worthy of receiving the Torah. (Growth Through Torah)
כה תאמר לבית יעקב ותגיד לבני ישראל
“Thus shall you say to the house of Yaakov and tell the children of Israel.” (19:3)
At first glance this phrase seems to be unnecessarily repetitious. Rashi quotes the Sages as explaining that “the house of Yaakov” is a reference to the women of Israel, while “the children of Israel” refers to the men. It is interesting to note that the women are mentioned before the men, Why is this so?
The Talmud teaches that if someone wishes to purchase a property that is jointly owned by a man and his wife, he must obtain consent from the wife first and then approach the husband. The reason for this is that if the woman is approached after her husband, she might be more inclined to consent only to please her husband, but is not truly willing to sell. Obtaining her permission first thus ensures that the sale is undertaken with the fullest consent.
When G-d gave the Torah to Israel He also wanted to ascertain the people’s wholehearted acceptance of the new responsibilities with which they were being charged. He therefore approached the women first to ensure that they would not react in a manner that would reflect more their desire to oblige their husband’s will than their own inner convictions. The reply from all concerned was, of course, the resounding declaration that “Everything that Hashem has spoken we will do!” (Beis HaLevi)
ויענו כל העם יחדו ויאמרו כל אשר דבר ה’ נעשה
“And all the people answered together and they said: ‘All that Hashem has spoken we will do’’” (19:8)
They did not say אעשה – I will do, they said נעשה – We will do. Each one was ready to vouch for his fellow man that he too will do. Each one said: I will guarantee that we will all do!
The question arises why does the Torah indicate that all the people answered together…We will do? The Vilna Gaon explains: An individual cannot possibly keep all 613 mitzvot in the Torah, no matter who he is, even if he is the most pious among men. Only Bnei Yisrael as a whole can keep the entire Torah. Thus the Torah specifies that before receiving the Torah, Bnei Yisrael were of one mind and together they declared we will do! (Torah Gems)
For future sponsorship opportunities or to receive this publication, please call Steve Zuckerman at 516 652 5266 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or Rabbi Lichter at email@example.com. Sponsorships in memory of or in honor of someone are $50.00 per issue.