פ’ יתרו תשע”ט
Volume 27, 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, Growth Through Torah by Zelig Pliskin and The Call of the Torah.
וישמע יתרו את כל אשר עשה אלקים למשה ולישראל עמו
“Yitro heard about all that G-d had done for Moshe and for His people Israel…” (18:1)
The Splitting of the Sea, the war with Amalek, and Yitro’s conversion to Judaism were all prerequisites to the Giving of the Torah. We must relive these events in our daily lives, for G-d gives us the Torah anew each day, granting us new and higher insights into life every day from the infinite well of the Torah. But before this can happen, we must first subdue our inner Amalek, i.e., silence our doubts about Divine providence. Then, we must convert our inner Yitro, i.e., win over the part of us that still prefers to serve the idols of excessive material desires.
But in order to take these steps, we must first “split the sea and enter it,” i.e., temporarily immerse ourselves totally in holiness through our morning prayers and regular Torah study. The Divine consciousness we experience this way enables us to bring a higher awareness into all aspects of our daily lives: eating, earning a living, interacting with others, and so on. Then, when we make time during our day to study the Torah, we will be able to uncover new insights that make it eternally relevant, thus hearing G-d’s voice from Sinai on a day-to-day basis. (Likutei Sichot)
וישמע יתרו את כל אשר עשה אלקים למשה…ויקח יתרו את צפרה אשת משה אחר שלוחיה
“Yitro heard what G-d had done to Moshe…and Yitro took with him Tzipporah, Moshe’s wife, after he had sent her away…” (18:1-2)
QUESTION: What had Yitro heard that Hashem had done to Moshe that prompted him to come with Tzipporah?
ANSWER: When Hashem appeared to Moshe for the first time and asked him to be His messenger to Pharaoh and redeem the Jews from Egypt, Moshe was reluctant. Hashem became angry and told Moshe, “Originally I had planned for you to be a Kohen; now that you are refusing your mission, Aharon will be the Kohen instead” (Zevachim 102a).
When Moshe finally agreed, he divorced his wife Tzipporah before going to Egypt so that he could be entirely devoted to the mission of redeeming the Jewish people. The word “shilucheha” can mean “after he divorced her,” as in the term “veshilach” in connection with divorce (Devarim 24:1).
After Yitro heard what Hashem had done to Moshe, he decided to bring back Tzipporah. Now that Moshe was no longer a Kohen, it was permissible for him to marry a divorcee and he could, thus, remain Tzipporah. (Nachal Kedumim)
זכור את יום השבת לקדשו
“Remember the Shabbat day to sanctify it…” (20:8)
The word “remember” in this commandment means that we are supposed to remember Shabbat by making Kiddush at the beginning of the Shabbat. A woman is obligated in Kiddush on Shabbat even though this mitzvah applies only one specific day of the week. The reason is because in the Ten Commandments recorded in Devarim, the commandment for Shabbat begins by saying, “Guard the Shabbat day. This word obligates us not to violate the negative commandment that forbids us from doing melacha, “labor” on Shabbat.
Since women are obligated to observe all the negative commandments, and since Hashem said the words “Remember” and “Guard” together, we learn that whoever is included in the prohibitions of guarding the Shabbat is also included in the obligation of remembering it with Kiddush. Since women are obligated to refrain from work on Shabbat, they are also obligated to make Kiddush. (Teachings of the Talmud)
כבד את אביך ואת אמך
“Honor your father and your mother…” (20:12)
Certainly, this mitzvah deserves an important place in the Ten Commandments, as the Torah formally proclaims parents to be the natural representatives of Hashem to their children. Judaism relies greatly upon the transmission of traditions and historical truths from one generation to the next, especially the Exodus from Egypt and the Revelation at Sinai. Tradition is dependent on faithful transmission from parent to child, and on the willingness of the child to accept it. Thus, the survival of our great heritage depends on the obedience of children to their parents. This is the fundamental condition for the eternal survival of the Jewish people. Not only do parents offer their children physical life, but also the ties to the past, links which indeed make them Jewish. Children receive our Torah knowledge and our history, and one day they will pass them on to their children as an inheritance. Without this link, the chain of generations would break, the past would be lost, and the Jewish nation would cease to exist. (Rabbi S.R. Hirsch)
וכל העם ראים את הקולת ואת הלפידים
“And the entire people perceived the thundering and the lightning… (20:15)
What they heard on Har Sinai they saw afterwards in their homes, in their way of life and their behavior. What they heard they also sensed: The spirit of Shabbat, the spirit of kashrut, the spirit of purity. They saw that which was heard. In every other aspect you hear something and that is what you are left with. In your mundane behavior there is no sign of the Torah which was heard. (Shearis Menachem)
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