פ’ יתרו תשע”ז
Volume 17, 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.
כה תאמר לבית יעקב ותגיד לבני ישראל
“Thus shall you say to the house of Yaakov, and tell to the children of Yisrael…” (19:3)
Yaakov’s name had been changed to Yisrael long before he immigrated to Egypt. However, the name Yisrael applied only to Yaakov and not to his descendants.
Until the time the Torah was given, the common name given to Bnei Yisrael was “Hebrews” (עברים), as it is written that Moshe said to Pharaoh: “The G-d of the Hebrews sent me to you (7:16). Now, however, when the Torah was given, the entire nation gained the name Bnei Yisrael. We, see throughout this entire parsha, the nation is referred to as Bnei Yisrael. When they stood before Har Sinai to receive the Torah, they gained this name. (Megaleh Amukim)
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)
וידבר אלקים את כל האלה לאמר
“And G-d spoke all these words, saying…” (20:1)
QUESTION: The Sages in the Gemara (Shabbat 86b) maintain that the Torah was given on the 6th day of the month of Sivan. Rabbi Yose, however, claims that it was given on the 7th day of Sivan. The Torah is precise in listing the exact dates of all Yomim Tovim. Why does it not specify on which day the Torah was given?
ANSWER: Hashem, by not stating the exact date of the giving of the Torah, conveys to us that Torah is not restricted to or connected with any specific time. Twenty-four hours a day, every day of the year, a Jew must live in accordance with the Torah. (Vedebarta Bam)
QUESTION: Why is the giving of the Torah recorded in Parshat Yitro?
ANSWER: Regarding the Torah it is stated: “Ein to vela Torah – The true good is only Torah. As it is written, ‘Ki lekach tov natati lachem’ – ‘I have given you a good teaching – the Torah.’” (Pirkei Avot 6:3). The word “tov” – טוב – has the numerical equivalent of 17. Counting from the first parsha of the Torah, Yitro is the 17th parsha. Thus, it is most appropriate that the ultimate good can be expounded in the 17th parsha. (Vedebarta Bam)
כבד את אביך ואת אמך למען יארכון ימיך על האדמה אשר ה’ אלקיך נתן לך
“Honor your father and mother in order that your days be extended upon the land that G-d your L-rd gives you…” (20:12)
What is the connection between the mitzvah of honoring one’s parents and increased longevity?
Rabbi Yosef Chaim Sonenfeld explains that if a child is to honor his parents properly, he or she must often set aside a significant portion of his time and tend to their various needs – especially when they are old and ill. Consequently, the child’s satisfaction in performing this mitzvah is tempered by a certain exasperation at his ability to devote sufficient attention to his private affairs. Therefore, the Torah promises the child longer life as a reward, to compensate for all the time the child expended on the parents, at the cost of neglecting his or her own needs. (Torah Anthology)
“I am…which belongs to your friends.” (20:2-14)
QUESTION: Why are there 620 letters in the Aseret Hadibrot?
ANSWER: In the Torah there are 613 mitzvot. In addition to this, there are seven mitzvot which were added by our sages. Each letter in the Aseret Hadibrot is for one of the mitzvot.
The last two words, “אשר לרעך” have seven letters, representing the seven mitzvot instituted by Rabbinic ordinance:
א = אבילות, the laws of mourning.
ש = שמחת חתן וכלה, the seven days of celebration for a groom and bride.
ר = רחיצה, the laws of netilat yadayim – washing of hands before a meal.
ל = לחם, the laws of saying a berachah before eating food.
ר = רשויות, the laws added by the Rabbis regarding domains where it is forbidden to carry on Shabbat, and also the distance permissible to walk out of residential area.
ע = עמלק, the laws pertaining to reading the Megillah on Purim, and the other mitzvot of Purim – Haman was a descendant of Amalek, and Purim commemorates the victory over him.
ך = כהנים , the miracle of Chanukah, which was brought about through the Kohanim of the family of Mattityahu. (Chasam Sofer)
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