"And Yitro rejoiced..." (Shemot 18:9)
The explanation is that he was happy, and there are those that explain that his flesh became prickly -- he developed gooseflesh [because he was aggrieved over the destruction of Egypt]. (from Rashi) [Note: The basis of Rashi's explanation is that the word in Hebrew "Vayichad" can be simply translated as "rejoiced", but it also has the same root letters as the Hebrew word for "prickly".] Another explanation is that Yitro thought he was coming to the desert to live a life of sorrow and suffering in order to bring himself to the acceptance of the Torah, and now that he came to the desert and saw that they had everything good, he was aggrieved because the Torah was not being received in suffering. The Sages say that we are given reward for one Mitzvah done in suffering more than for 100 Mitzvot that are done easily.
"They journeyed from Rephidim and arrived at the desert of Sinai and they encamped in the desert (or wilderness); and Israel encamped there, opposite the mountain." (Shemot 19:2)
There are 3 preparations for receiving the Torah: 1) "They journeyed from Rephidim...', means that they left the trait of having weakness of hands, which is laziness. [Note: The basis for this interpretation is that although the word Rephidim is a place name, it is also similar to the Hebrew word "Refayon", which means weakness.] 2) "...and they encamped in the desert (or wilderness)", each one needs to regard himself as if he is a desert (or wilderness) in order to abandon his physical lusts and to humble himself. 3) "...and Israel encamped there, opposite the mountain", means that all of Israel were together in unity. [Note: The basis for this is that the singular verb is used for encamped, and as Rashi interprets it: "as one man, with one heart".]
(from the Ohr HaChaim)
"...and Israel encamped there, opposite the mountain" (Shemot 19:2)
The word for encamped in Hebrew ["vayichan"] is similar to the word for "grace" or "favor" in Hebrew ["chain"]. And "opposite the mountain" is a hint about opposing the Evil Inclination. The Sages say that the Evil Inclination is similar to a mountain, and if everyone will find favor (or grace) in the eyes of his fellow, that is the greatest weapon we can have against the mountain which is the Evil Inclination.
"All of Israel are guarantors [in Hebrew "aravin"] one for another."
There is an explanation that each one needs to be sweet to the other one, because although the Hebrew word "aravin" means guarantors (of loans) it is also is similar to a word in Hebrew which means sweetness.
"You shall not covet your fellow man's house...nor anything that belongs to your fellow man." (Shemot 20:14)
It can be asked, why was it stated "your fellow man's house", isn't that included in "anything that belongs to your fellow man?" And the answer that is given (tongue in cheek) is that if a person covets what another has because he has a nice house or other nice things, he is told to take into account that it's a package deal and if you get everything that belongs to your fellow man that also includes all the sorrows, obligations, and other difficulties.
Translator's Summary and Comments:
From the lessons brought by Rav Gershon Steinberg ztz"l on this week's Torah Portion, as translated in the excerpts above, the important points to remember are:
A. If you find yourself in a "happy situation", rejoice. But if you are in a difficult situation, and make an effort to perform a Mitzvah, be happy that the reward you will get for one Mitzvah done in difficulty is 100 times greater than the reward for a Mitzvah done in an easy situation.
B. If we really want to receive the Torah, each one of us needs to emulate the Jews at Sinai and 1) start moving - and leave behind the trait of weak hands, laziness, 2) regard one's own self as a desert, a wilderness, in order to abandon his physical lusts and attain true humility, and 3) be at unity with everyone else, to be as if we are "one man, with one heart". This last third point is very significant, for if everyone can find grace and favor in the eyes of his fellow man, we can truly overcome the Evil Inclination. All of Israel are guarantors for each other, we are our brother's keepers, and thus we need to act sweetly to one another.
C. The last of the 10 Commandments is that we shouldn't covet, we shouldn't be jealous and envious of what the other fellow has, because we need to remember that while everyone else has nice things that we might want, they also have problems too -- everyone does. If we look at our fellow man with a good eye, and not with a jealous, "bad eye", it will be much easier to feel empathy for the other person's difficulties, to attain the state of being a nation of "one man, with one heart", and to merit the Geula Shleima (complete redemption).
The Torah Portion of "Yitro" has 72 verses.The Haftorah is "B'sh'nat Mot Hamelech Uziahu" (Yeshayahu 6)
L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l