CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS YISRO 5769 - BS"D
1) Ch. 18, v. 2,3: "Va'yikach Yisro chosein Moshe es Tziporoh, V'es shnei vo'ne'hoh" - We find the Torah mentions Yisro, then Tziporoh, and lastly her two sons. Compare this with verse 5, which says, "Va'yovo Yisro chosein Moshe u'vonov v'ishto el Moshe," where the children are mentioned first.
We also have to clarify the order in verse 6, which is listed as following: "Ani chosencho Yisro ...... v'ish't'cho u'shnei vo'nehoh."
2) Ch. 18, v. 9: "VA'YICHAD Yisro" - The simple translation of VA'YICHAD is that he rejoiced. However, the gemara Sanhedrin 94a cites Rav, who 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. All Midyanites are descendants of Keturoh. The Rambam hilchos M'lochim 10:8 says that all descendants of Keturoh are required to have themselves circumcised. If so, why wasn't Yisro the Midyanite already circumcised?"
3) Ch. 19, v. 2: "Va'yichan shom Yisroel" - Rashi comments, "k'ish echod b'leiv echod." Rashi on the word "no'sei'a" (14:10) says that the Egyptians were "b'leiv echod k'ish echod." Why the switch?
4)Ch. 19, v. 12, 13: "Hishomru ...... u'ngo'ah b'kotzeihu. Lo siga bo yad" - What are the two prohibitions?
5) Ch. 20, v. 3: "Lo yi'h'yeh l'cho elohim acheirim AL PONOY" - The Rambam at the beginning of hilchos avodoh zoroh, 1:1, says that idol worship evolved through people saying that celestial bodies are the ministers of Hashem, which do His bidding, and help make Hashem's world inhabitable. People felt that by giving honour to Hashem's agents, they were honouring Hashem. This spiralled further downwards to the point that people deified the agents themselves. Since giving honour to a king's appointees indeed gives honour to the king, what was wrong with the first stage?
The Ibn Ezra says that in verse 5 which discusses their manner of travel, it is proper to have the men in the lead ahead of a woman. However, the Zohar says that "u'vonov," - and his sons, mentioned in verse 5 refers to the sons of Yisro, whom he was blessed to have after Moshe lived in his home. This is similar to the blessing Lovon received from Hashem when he had Yaakov in his household. Both of them only had daughters previously. He brought them along to have them converted to Judaism.
Clarification of the order in verse 6: Rashi explains that Yisro pleaded with Moshe to travel to meet him. If this would not motivate Moshe, then at least in the interest of meeting his wife he should go to greet them. If this is not sufficient, he should do so for his two children. How is this derived from the words of this verse?
Rashi in Breishis 31:17 on the words "Va'yokom Yaakov va'yiso es bonov v'es noshov" comments that Yaakov first took his sons and then his wives. He contrasts this with 36:6, "Va'yikach Eisov es noshov v'es bonov," first his wives and then his children. Rashi says this shows that righteous people prioritize their children, who are the fruits of their life's labour, to bring them up as Torah observant, G-d fearing people. Eisov took his wives first, as the priority of people whose main concern is their physical pleasures give preference to their wives.
If so, why did Yisro mention Moshe's wife before his children? From this Rashi deduced that Yisro meant to say that hopefully Moshe would come out to meet Yisro, and if that is not sufficient, then his wife Tziporoh, and if that doesn't motivate Moshe, lastly, his children's presence would. (Rabbi Sho'ul of Amsterdam)
The Maharsh"o answers that the descendants of Keturah were only obligated to perform the first stage of circumcision, called "miloh," but not the second stage called "prioh." Rav interprets our verse as saying that Yisro performed the second stage of "prioh."
Perhaps another answer could be offered based on the opinion that in parshas Shmos Yisro had relinquished his theology of Midyanite idol worship only, and was still pursuing many other religions, and only now when he came to Moshe did he drop all other theologies and instead embraced Judaism. We may assume that he learned idol worship from his father. Therefore, although commanded to perform circumcision, neither his father nor he performed circumcision upon himself up to this point.
The Avnei Neizer says that the change of the word order in these two Rashis is significant. Here it means that the bnei Yisroel are always united as if they are ONE person, but now they are also united in their "leiv," their desire. In 14:10 the Egyptians all have a similar desire, but are not united as one person, except in their pursuit of the bnei Yisroel.
The Ibn Ezra, the Rosh, and the Baalei Tosfos answer that the Torah first warns against ascending the mountain or even touching it, under the penalty of death. If a person has transgressed and the court wants to immediately carry out the punishment, it is warned, "Lo siga BO yad," Do not come into contact with him, the transgressor (not the mountain), since you would also be entering the restricted area. "Ki," rather, "sokol y'sokeil ......," Stone him from a distance.
The Maharil Diskin answers that it is proper to honour the king's ministers, but only when the king is not present. We find that Urioh gave honour to a general in King Dovid's army in front of the king and Dovid considered this to be a rebellious act. Hashem is the Omnipresent, "Mlo chol ho'oretz kvodo." Therefore it is wrong to show honour to any of Hashem's agents. This is the intention of the words "al ponoy."
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