Saturday, January 26, 2013

Yitro 5773

The Torah Portion of "Yitro" 

"And Yitro rejoiced..." (Shemot 18:9) 

The explanation is that he was happy, and according to the Midrash the explanation is that his flesh became prickly and he developed gooseflesh, because he was aggrieved over the destruction of Egypt. (from Rashi)  [Translator's 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".] The Mashgiach HaRav HaTzaddik R' Yechezkel Levenshtein said to the students at the Mir Yeshiva in Shanghai during the frightful days of the Holocaust, that we see from this verse that it is natural that when someone hears of the sufferings of his people, even if he is disconnected from them for ten generations, he will nevetheless have his flesh become prickly.  And if we currently hear about the sufferings of our fellow Jews and we don't feel anything and our flesh does not become prickly, this must only be because our sins and transgressions have caused our hearts have become stupid and our nature has changed (for the worse).  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.  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, because the Sages say that we are given reward for one Mitzvah done in suffering more than for a hundred 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. [Translator's 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. [Translator's 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 ["chein"].  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".  (Masechet Shavuot 39a)

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.

The Torah Portion  of Yitro has 72 verses. The Torah Portion of Yitro has within it 3 positive commandments, 14 negative commandments.The Haftorah is "B'sh'nat Mot Hamelech Uziahu" (Yeshayahu 6)

May you all have a  light-filled and happy Shabbat.  
Shabbat Shalom.

L'ilui Neshamat HaGaon HaTzaddik R' Gershon Avigdor Ben R' Chaim ztz"l, Nilkach L'Bait Olamo Yud Gimmel Tishrei 5772

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