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Parashas Yisro

Source:,_Jean-L%C3%A9on_-_Moses_on_Mount_Sinai_Jean-L%C3%A9on_G%C3%A9r%C3%B4me_-1895-1900.jpg Disclaimer: "This work is in the public domain in its country of origin and other countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 100 years or fewer."

Jethro had heard about all the great miracles that G'd had carried out for Moshe and Israel and decided to go to Moshe.

He brought Zipporah, Moshe's wife, and Moshe's children, his two sons, Gershon and Eliezer.

Jethro blessed Hashem for rescuing the Jewish people, concluding that Hashem is greater than all the gods.

He also realized that Hashem punished the Egyptians at the Sea of Reeds the same way that the Egyptians wanted to punish the Jewish people.

Jethro brought an elevation- and feast-offerings for G'd; and Aaron and the elders of Israel had a meal.

On the next day, after the the meal, Jethro saw Moshe judging the people all day long.

Jethro suggested to Moshe to be a representative to G'd and convey important matters to Him. He further told Moshe to convey to the nation decrees and teachings.

Instead of judging every single matter himself every time, Jethro advised Moshe to select G'd-fearing people, men of truth, people who despise money as leaders of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens.

Major matters they would bring to Moshe, minor matters they would judge themselves.

Moshe followed Jethro's advice and selected leaders from the people.

He then sent off Jethro.

In the third month from the Exodus, the Children of Israel journeyed from Rephidim and arrived at the Wilderness of Sinai.

They encamped there opposite the mountain.

Moshe ascended to G'd, and Hashem called to him from the mountain. He told Moshe to tell the Children of Israel: "You have seen what I did to Egypt, and that I have borne you on the wings of eagles and brought you to Me. And now if you hearken well to Me and observe My covenant, you shall be to Me the most beloved treasure of all peoples, for Mine is the entire world. You shall be to Me a kingdom of ministers and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Children of Israel."

Moshe came and summoned the elders of the people and told them all the words that Hashem had told him.

The entire people replied: "Everything that Hashem has spoken we shall do."

Moshe transmitted the words of the people to Hashem.

Hashem told Moshe that he would be coming in the thickness of the cloud, and that the people would hear when He spoke to Moshe.

Hashem told Moshe to sanctify the people this day and the next day and to tell them to wash their clothing.

On the third day, Hashem would descend.

Moshe was to set boundaries for the people for if they touched the mountain, they would die.

Moshe descended the mountain, sanctified the people and they washed their clothing.

Moshe told them to be prepared after a three-day period and not to draw near a woman.

On the third day, there was thunder and lighting, and a heavy cloud on the mountain, the sound of the shofar was very powerful, the people shuddered.

Moshe brought the people from the camp nearer to G'd, and they stood at the bottom of the mountain.

All of Mount Sinai was smoking because Hashem had descended upon it in fire, the mountain shuddered, and the sound of the shofar grew stronger.

Moshe would speak and G'd would respond with a voice.

Hashem descended upon Mount Sinai, Hashem summoned Moshe to the top of the mountain, and Moshe ascended.

G'd told Moshe to warn the people again not to approach the mountain. G'd told Moshe to ascend with Aaron.

G'd then spoke the following, the Ten Commandments:

  1. "I am Hashem, your G'd, Who has taken you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery.

  2. "You shall not recognize the gods of others in My presence. You shall not make yourself a carved image nor any likeness of that which is in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the water beneath the earth. You shall not prostrate yourself to them nor worship them, for I am Hashem, your G'd – a jealous G'd, Who visits the sin of fathers upon children to the third and fourth generations, for my enemies; but Who shows kindmess for thousands [of generations] to those who love me and observe my commandments."

  3. "You shall not take the Name of Hashem, your G'd, in vain, for Hashem will not absolve anyone who takes His Name in vain."

  4. "Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it. Six days shall you work and accomplish all your work; but the seventh day is Sabbath to Hashem, your G'd; you shall not do any work – you, your son, your daughter, your slave, your maidservant, your animal, and your convert within Your gates – for in six days Hashem made the Haveans and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day. Therefore Hashem blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it."

  5. "Honor your father and your mother, so that your days will be lengthened upon the land that Hashem, your G'd, gives you."

  6. "You shall not kill,"

  7. "you shall not commit adultery;"

  8. "you shall not steal;"

  9. "you shall not bear false witness against your fellow."

  10. "You shall not covet your fellow's house. You shall not covet your fellow's wife, his manservant, his maidservant, his ox, his donkey, nor anything that belongs to your fellow."

The entire people trembled at the sight of the thunder and the flames, the smoking mountain, and the sound of the shofar. They said to Moshe, "You speak to us and we shall hear; let G'd not speak to us lest we die."

Moshe said to the people to not be afraid, G'd had come to elevate them; so that awe of Him shall upon their faces. The people stood from afar and Moshe approached the thick cloud where G'd was.

Hashem told Moshe to say to the Children of Israel that G'd spoke to them from heaven. He furthermore was to tell them not to make images of what is with G'd; and not to make idols of gold or silver for themselves.

Instead, they were to make an Altar of Earth for G'd. Near that Altar, they were to slaughter their elevation-offerings and peace-offerings, their flock and herd. G'd also told Moshe to instruct the Children of Israel not to build the Altar of stones with hewn stones, for this would be comparable to having raised one's sword over the Altar, which would desecrate it.

They were also not to ascend the Altar on steps, as to not uncover their nakedness over it.

Jethro was a convert to Judaism. He converted after seeing the great miracles that Hashem performed for the Jewish people. The fact that this Parashas is referred to as "Parashas Yisro", and that Jethro was able to contribute a teaching, and that a big section of the Torah is dedicated to him can be seen as a confirmation that the Torah considers converts the same way as other Jewish people.

It is interesting to note that while the Ten Commandments are spelt out very directly in the Torah, the Noahide Commandments are not so obviously revealed in the Torah. Many of the laws of the Ten Commandments and the Noahide Code resemble each other, and I find that Noahides can learn about their essence and Hashem's expectation of them by reading about the Jewish people and their commandments in the Torah. Sometimes one's personal situation and mission becomes clearer by contrasting it with someone else's, whose mission is different.

There is some overlap between the Ten Commandments and the Noahide Commandments, and by studying the Ten Commandments, it should also become clear where Noahides have different commandments.

Keeping Shabbat is only a commandment for Jewish people, for example.

The Parashas also details the revelation at Sinai, an example of G'd directly revealing Himself to the world, which is considered one of the seminal events in the history of the Jewish people.

Hashem spoke to the entire Jewish people, giving them the Ten Commandments.

Some sages say that G'd uttered all Ten Commandments in a single instant and then started repeating them one by one. After G'd had repeated the second commandment the people asked Moshe to transmit the rest of the commandments to them, as they could not tolerate the intense holiness of direct revelation by G'd. Some sages say that G'd only taught the first two commandments directly, and the rest of the commandments were conveyed by Moshe.

Some sages say that the first commandment is not a commandment but more of statement: "I am Hashem". And even in this first commandment G'd refers to Himself as the One that took Israel out of Egypt, showing the importance of the Exodus as the event where G'd acquired Israel as a nation unto Himself.



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