I wish everyone a wonderful week, filled with holiness!
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Parshas Yisro 5777
Okay; so, with Hashem’s Help, I would like to list at least 10 hopefully inspiring insights on this parsha:
1) So, Yisro came to the Jewish People to convert, and one of the things he said was ‘Now I know that Hashem is greater than all the “other gods” for in the matter that they plotted against them.’
So, there are many commentators who say a beautiful explanation on this: They explain that Yisro saw that the Egyptians got punished for even the stuff which they plotted to do to the Jews - and Hashem thwarted. Yisro, who Gemara Sotah says was one of Paroah’s advisers, would know Hashem’s Wonders more than the Jews, even!
And there is a wonderful story on this: There was a wealthy minister who hated all Jews - but his Jewish neighbor more than the rest. His neighbor happened to be a very saintly man, who got up very early every morning to go to the Beis Midrash, and come home very late at night. So, one time, the minister plotted to kill this Jew. He sent out a servant to go and dig a ditch on the route that the Jew would take every morning to the Beis Midrash. But since he would get up before dawn even, it would still be dark, he wouldn’t see the ditch, and he would fall in and break his neck!
But that evening, the good Jew had a distinguished guest over; they dined together, and they dallied over the meal, talking in learning until late at night. The good Jew went to bed much later than usual and overslept the next morning. By the time he left his house for the Beis Midrash, it was already light! When he came to the ditch, he went around it and continued on his way.
The minister was certain that the Jew had met his death that morning, and rushed out to examine the ditch. To his surprise, he saw the Jew on his way to the Beis Midrash! He ran up to him and asked “Why are you so late this morning?” The righteous Jew explained to him about his guest and he had gone to sleep so late.
The minister could not hide his wonder at his enemy’s escape, and cried out “Praised be the G-d of the Jews Who devises all kinds of ways to rescue His devoted sons!” (From Tales of Tzaddikim; Shemos)
2) So, as we know, Yisro comes and makes a very public conversion. Makes a “big splash”, etc. Asks HaRav Yosef Tzvi Salant zt”l; why was all this needed?
And he answers beautifully that Yisro was rectifying what Amalek (YM”S) did. They publicly attacked Hashem’s Nation and, as Rashi HaKadosh tells us from Tanchuma (at the end of Parshas Ki Seitzei), they cooled us down. We were “boiling hot” - no nation would attack us. But when they did, they “cooled us down”, and made it more likely that nations would want to attack us. They tried to make it like there was nothing special about the Jewish Nation. So Amalek did a lot of terrible things!
So Yisro heard about this, explains Reb Yosef Tzvi zt”l, and he wanted to rectify it by making his conversion as public as possible. Then everyone would hear about this tremendous Kiddush - a priest who had tried all types of idol worship (see Rashi HaKadosh) converting to become one of Hashem’s Nation proudly! (From Sefer Be’er Yosef Al HaTorah)
3) There is a question asked and discussed by many commentators: What did Yisro hear from Moshe Rabbeinu about what Hashem had done that he hadn’t heard already? Why did he rejoice when he Moshe Rabbeinu told him?
Says HaRav Shlomo Wolbe zt”l; hearing it from a great man makes a huge difference. Yisro might have heard about a lot of Hashem’s Awesome Miracles; but it’s not the same as hearing it from a great man. And that is why, he explains, he specifically rejoiced, etc. after Moshe Rabbeinu told him about the Great Miracles. (Quoted in Sefer Shalheves Yosef)
4) So, Yisro brings Tzipporah with him, and Gershom and Eliezer, as well. Asks HaRav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (among others); why did he name Gershom (that he sojourned in a foreign land) - the older son - this name, when this happened after Hashem saving him from Paroah’s sword (Eliezer)? Not only this; what good thing is the name ‘Gershom’ - meaning because he was a stranger in a foreign land? What is that?
And he answers beautifully that the name Gershom was thanking Hashem for helping me remain a stranger (sojourner) in the land of Midyan, and not become a resident there, becoming like them.
But this is why he named the firstborn son Gershom and the second son Eliezer, says Reb Moshe zt”l: Because Hashem helped him to stay separate from other nations; but only because he stayed separate from the Goyim, was it applicable and “worth it” for Hashem to save him from the sword of Paroah. (From Sefer Darash Moshe)
5) This will be a very short insight - but it just so powerful: The Torah tells us that Aharon and all the Elders of Israel came to eat bread with Yisro before G-d. Says Rashi HaKadosh from Mechilta and Targum Yonasan zt”l:
“And where did Moshe go? And was it not him who went out to greet him [Yisro] and made for him all the honor? Rather, he was standing and serving them.”
Moshe Rabbeinu, perhaps the greatest man to ever live was waiting on them and serving them! Great people treat themselves like they are small; “small” people treat themselves like they are great.
6) Okay; so, as we know, Yisro saw Moshe Rabbeinu judging the people and he thought it wasn’t the right way to do it - and he advised Moshe Rabbeinu to set up judges who would judge the “small” matters.
Now, when listing who the judges should be, he listed some pretty fine qualities! Says HaRav Shimshon Dovid Pinkus zt”l: Yisro here was teaching us that there doesn’t just have to be one big Gadol; there can be many leading Rabbonim.
But Moshe Rabbeinu, he explains, as we can see, chose people who had some of the qualities - but, according to Rashi HaKadosh in Sefer Devarim, he couldn’t find people who had all the qualities.
Moshe Rabbeinu was teaching us, says Rav Pinkus zt”l, that, even though the people going down the line might be on a lower level (the Rebbeim today might not be as great as, say the Baal Shem Tov zt”l), they are still leaders.
But Hashem went even farther than that, he explains beautifully: At Har Sinai, Hashem made it clear that all of us - every single person can be a great leader. (From Sefer Tiferes Shimshon Al HaTorah)
7) In the fourth Aliyah, the Torah says ‘And Moshe ascended to the G-d and Hashem called to him from the mountain saying; so shall you say to the House of Yaakov and tell to the Bnei Yisroel.’
Says Rashi HaKadosh from Mechilta: “‘To the House of Yaakov’; these are the women. Say it to them in a gentle language.” And he further says from Mechilta and Gemara Sanhedrin 87a: “‘And tell to the Bnei Yisroel’; the punishments and details you shall explain to the males, things that are as harsh as wormwood.”
Says HaRav Shlomo Wolbe zt”l: This teaches us that we must express the Torah properly to who we are telling it over to. We must say it in a way that it will make an effect on them, etc. We must know how to transmit Torah properly to each individual.
And he quotes from HaRav Yeruchom Levovitz zt”l, who says that if we knew how to transmit Torah properly, every non-Jew would convert, because of how beautiful it would be. (From Shiurim M’HaRav Shlomo Wolbe)
8) So, in the sixth Aliyah, Hashem gives us the Ten Commandments:
The Torah says ‘And G-d spoke all these words, saying.’ Asks the Maggid of Mezeritch zt”l; why does the Torah here say ‘saying’? We are told that when the Torah says ‘saying’, it means that we should say over to others this thing. But wait; he says; the Midrash tells us that every single Jewish Soul that would come into the world were at Har Sinai! So there is nobody else to say this over to - since we were all there!
And he answers beautifully that it is to teach us that we must read the Torah in a way that it really speaks to us. It shouldn’t just be words - but we need to read it in a way that it really hits home and inspires us as it should. (Quoted in Likutei Sichos)
9) But I might add a slightly different suggestion, and another answer: #1, Perhaps the Torah is telling us that we need to say these words over to ourselves - we need to constantly remind ourselves of these Words for all generations.
#2, But it also could be that the Maggid’s question is very simple (so to speak): Perhaps we may say that even though we were all at Har Sinai, hearing the Words from Hashem; we must continue to tell them over for all centuries.
10) Says the Abarbanel zt”l (I am putting his teaching very briefly): The Ten Commandments are rules of everyday life because Hashem wants to show us that He is part of our lives. Hashem is here in our everyday lives.
11) Okay; so, as we know, the Third Commandment is that we are not allowed to use Hashem’s Name for no reason. Hashem says ‘Lo sisa es Shem Hashem Elokecha lashav…./You shall not take the Name of Hashem your G-d in vain….’
Teaches us the Chofetz Chaim zt”l: ‘Sisa’ can also mean ‘to carry’. We all carry the Name of Hashem on us, says Reb Yisroel Meir zt”l, and we must make sure that we do not carry It around in vain. We must carry Hashem’s Name truthfully. (Quoted in Sefer V’Karasa L’Shabbos Oneg)
12) Two thoughts on the Tenth Commandment - not to covet: Asks the Ibn Ezra zt”l; how can the Torah command us to control our emotions? Our actions; okay, but our emotions? Can a person really make sure that they are not jealous?
And he answers by way of a parable: If a peasant were to see a princess, he would n’t covet her - because he would never dream of her ever marrying him. She is beyond him! Similarly, he says, a person would never think they could growing wings and flying.
Says the Rav Avraham zt”l: If a person realized that everything that another person has was given to them specially by Hashem, and it is just as inaccessible to us as the princess to the peasant, we wouldn’t covet.
13) Okay; last insight for this Dvar: The Torah says ‘You shall not covet the house of your fellow; you shall not covet the wife of your fellow; his manservant, his maidservant, his ox, his donkey, and all that belongs to your fellow."
Asks HaRav Yaakov Galinsky zt”l: Why does the Torah say all these specifics and then the overall?
And he answers beautifully: We sometimes desire something that our fellow has; whatever specific thing it may be. But the Torah is telling us - you might look at certain specific things that you fellow has; but you should look at all that they have. Because Hashem has given us all a certain portion - with lots of specific things. And if you have one thing of your fellow; then you must have his entire portion - even with all their hardships - for that thing comes with their portion.
Concludes Reb Galinsky zt”l: “And this is what is said: ‘And all that belongs to your fellow’; do not look at the specific this or another thing. Look at all that is to your fellow, and certainly, you won’t covet anything…..” (Quoted in lots of Sefarim)
There are 72 verses in this parsha:
I wish everyone a wonderful week, filled with holiness!
at 11:26:00 AM