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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 18, v. 1: "Va'yishma Yisro" - Rashi says that Yisro heard of the splitting of "yam suf" and the battle with Amo'leik. At the splitting of "yam suf" Paroh was left alive so that he might relate as the only non-ben Yisroel who was an eye witness to the event, of the might and miracles of Hashem, bringing others to believe in Him. Similarly, by the battle with Amo'leik, the Torah says that Hashem's throne and Name will not be complete until all the evildoers will be eradicated (Shmos 17:16). These two matters sent such a powerful message to Yisro, causing him to forsake his belief in idols. (The Holy Toldos Yaakov Yoseif)

Ch. 18, v. 2: "Tziporoh eishes Moshe achar shilucheho" - Moshe had the status of a king (gemara Z'vochim 101a). Therefore even though he sent her away she remained his wife, as no one may marry the wife of a king. (Baal Haturim)

Ch. 18, v. 6: "Ani chosencho Yisro bo ei'lecho v'ish't'cho ushnei vo'nehoh imoh" - My only reason for coming was to be with you, "bo ei'lecho," to convert to Judaism. Once I have come, I have incidentally brought along your wife and children. (Eitz Hadaas Tov - Rabbi Chaim Vi'tal)

Ch. 18, v. 7: "Va'yeitzei Moshe likras chose'no" - Even though Moshe now held a most exalted position, he nevertheless still treated his father-in-law with great respect, even leaving the encampment to greet him upon his arrival. (Rabbi Ovadioh Sforno)

Ch. 18, v. 8: "Va'y'sa'peir Moshe l'chose'no es kol asher ossoh Hashem l'Faroh ulMitzrayim" - Even though Yisro knew it all, as indicated by the first words of our parshas, nevertheless, Moshe related the story to him. This is an allusion to the words of the Hagodoh, that even if we are all wise men and know the words of the Torah, there is a mitzvoh incumbent upon us to relate the exodus from Egypt. (The Holy Admor of Radzimin)

Ch. 18, v. 9: "Va'yichad Yisro" - Rashi says that "va'yichad" means either that he was joyous or that he had goose pimples. In the gemara Sanhedrin 94a Rav says that it means he took a SHARP sword and passed it over his flesh. CHAD means SHARP. This means that he had himself circumcised in the process of conversion to Judaism. However, the Baal Haturim says that it means that he unified his heart to serve Hashem only.

Ch. 18, v. 10: "Boruch Hashem asher hitzil es'chem miyad Mitzrayim u'miyad Paroh asher hitzil es ho'om" - "Miyad Mitzrayim" refers to the ministering angel above who represents Egypt. "U'miyad Paroh" refers to Paroh himself down on this earth. "Es ho'om" refers to the rescue of the "eirev rav," the mixed multitudes. Yisro thought that their adhering to the bnei Yisroel was genuinely spiritually inspired. (Eitz Hadaas Tov - Rabbi Chaim Vi'tal)

Ch. 18, v. 11: "Atoh yodati .. ki vadovor asher zodu a'lei'hem" - The gemara Sanhedrin 106a says that Yisro and Bilom were among Paroh's advisers. Thus Yisro was privy to the diabolical plans of Paroh and the rest of his cabinet. He was truly the one who was capable of saying that Paroh and his nation received retribution in kind. (Gri"z haLevi)

Ch. 18, v. 15: "Lidrosh Elokim" - The Ramban says that Moshe told Yisro that the bnei Yisroel came to him for counsel, to disclose where their lost items are, or to receive a blessing, besides his judging their monetary disputes.

Ch. 18, v. 21: "V'samto a'lei'hem" - Although Yisro's advise was "v'samto," you should FORCE ministers upon them, when Moshe did Yisro's bidding, the verse says "va'yi'tein osom roshim al ho'om," Moshe PLACED ministers upon them to their satisfaction, after conferring with them. (Mahari"l Diskin)

Ch. 18, v. 23: "V'yocholto amode" - When litigants come in front of a judge, he sits while they must stand. Thus Yisro advised Moshe to appoint many judges and not go it alone, as other wise he would be judging from morning till night without a break. If Moshe would appoint others and have some time available for himself he would be able to stand, "v'yocholto amode." Otherwise he would have to remain seated all day, as is required when judging. (Taamo Dikro)

Ch. 18, v. 23: "Kol ho'om .. yovo v'SHOLOM" - If only Moshe would judge and a litigant was displeased with the ruling he had no recourse. Once numerous judges were available, a person would bring his case to another competent judge who would also rule the same. Then the litigant would be satisfied that the ruling was just, and would go home in a PEACEFUL mood. (Rabbi Ovadioh Sforno)

Ch. 18, v. 27: "Va'y'shalach Moshe es chose'no" - Only after Moshe sent away his father-in-law does the story of the giving of the Torah begin. This is because the giving of the Torah is specifically intended for the bnei Yisroel who experienced enslavement in and redemption from Egypt, as is stated at the beginning of the Ten Commandments, "Onochi Hashem Elokecho asher hotzeisicho mei'eretz Mitzrayim mi'beis avodim" (20:2). Since I took you out of Egypt you are morally forced to accept my Torah, as I predicated taking you out on accepting the Torah. Had you remained in Egypt you would have been destroyed as a nation.

Yisro went through none of this and if he would accept the Torah along with the bnei Yisroel it would be wrong to force it upon him, as his acceptance would be based only upon his willingness to accept it. The Torah could not be given on two levels, by force to the bnei Yisroel, and by acceptance to Yisro. This is why it was necessary to send Yisro away before the giving of the Torah. (Droshos hoRan)

Ch. 19, v. 3: "Ko somar l'veis Yaakov v'sa'geid livnei Yisroel" - Hashem told Moshe to tell two groups two different points of information. Beis Yaakov refers to the simple people, while bnei Yisroel refers to the elevated people. To the simple people the message is conveyed in verses 4 and 5, that since they saw the punishments inflicted upon the Egyptians and the great miracles wrought for them, they should realize that Hashem punishes those who do not do is bidding and reward those who do. So by complying with Hashem's wishes they would become His prized possession upon whom He would shower blessings.

Verse 6 is to be told only to the elevated people, the bnei Yisroel. It relates that Hashem wants them to become a kingdom of priests and a sanctified nation, clinging to Hashem and not concerning themselves with the ephemeral rewards of this world. Hashem did not want Moshe to tell this to the simple "amcho" because there was a fear that they would rebel, as we find that Baytus misunderstood the words of his teacher Antignos of Socho (Pirkei Ovos 1:3), regarding anticipation of reward for fulfilling mitzvos. This is why Hashem added, "ei'leh hadvorim asher t'da'beir el BNEI YISROEL," upon which Rashi comments, "lo pochose v'lo yoser," no more and no less. We can interpret the words "v'lo yoser" to mean to not tell these words to more people than the bnei Yisroel, the elevated group.

Ch. 19, v. 4: "Vo'eso es'chem al kanfei n'shorim" - This refers to bringing the bnei Yisroel through the Yam Suf. Just as an eagle carries its young on its wings over expanses of water, and they remain dry, so too, Hashem brought the bnei Yisroel through Yam Sum on a dry surface. (Rashbam)

Ch. 19, v. 5: "Vi'h'yi'sem li s'guloh" - Just as a king does not give his most prized possession to his servants or guards to watch, but rather, he personally keeps it close at hand, under his own watchful eye, so too, the bnei Yisroel, Hashem's most prized possession, are not given to the domain of any guardian angel, as are all other nations. (Rabbeinu Bachyei) A possible extension of this concept: Just as the bnei Yisroel are under Hashem's personal domain, so is Eretz Yisroel under His personal watch. If the bnei Yisroel live in the Diaspora, they are placing themselves under the domain of administering angels for that geographic location. They thus remove Hashem's dominance over themselves somewhat. This might give us an understanding of the statement of our Rabbis, that one who dwells in the Diaspora, it is as if he serves idols (gemara K'subos 110b).

Ch. 19, v. 9: "Hi'nei onochi bo ei'lecho b'av he'onon baavur YISHMA ho'om" - Although we are able to use our senses concurrently, i.e. we are capable of seeing and hearing at the same time, nevertheless, the effort expended in concentrating on seeing diminishes the acuity of our hearing, and visa versa. It is well known that a blind person has extremely fine tuned hearing, even being able to recognize people at a distance by the pattern of the sound of their footsteps. Similarly, deaf people have exceedingly developed visual ability, being able to understand people's speech by the movements of their lips, called lip reading.

Hashem told Moshe that He would appear in a thick cloud vision, meaning not presenting Himself in a visual extravaganza, which one might feel would be appropriate for the occasion of the giving of the Torah. Limiting the visual experience would expand the audio experience, allowing the people to concentrate on what they would hear, "baavur YISHMA ho'om." (Kli Yokor)

Ch. 20, v. 5: "Lo sishtacha'veh lo'hem" - The Sefer Hako'neh page 33a writes that if an angel appears in front of a person in the form of a human being, he is allowed to bow down to him, but if he appears in the form of an angel then it is prohibited.


Ch. 16, v. 33: "Kach tzintze'nes achas v'sen shomoh m'lo ho'omer mon .. l'doroseichem" - Since the command to save a jar of manna is "l'doroseichem," for all generations, why don't those who list the 613 mitzvos include this precept?

Rabbi Chaim Brisker answers that the command "l'doroseichem" does not mean that all future generations are also required to maintain a jar of manna as testimony to the sustenance that the bnei Yisroel had while in the desert, but rather, a command to Moshe only to set aside a jar of manna for all future generations to see. A mitzvoh that is not binding on all generations is not included in the 613 precepts.



See also Oroh V'Simchoh - Meshech Chochmoh on the Weekly Parsha and Chasidic Insights

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