Chasidic Insights

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by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

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Ch. 18, v. 1: "Va'yishma Yisro" - When the bnei Yisroel were enslaved they were not even able to HEAR the words of Moshe, "v'lo shomu el Moshe mikotzer ruach" (Shmos 6:9), because of their restricted pursuit of "ruchnios." Their redemption released them from this restriction and now, not only they heard, but even Yisro the priest of Midyon also heard. (Rabbi Mendel of Kosov in Ahavas Sholo-m)

Ch. 18, v. 1: "Chosein Moshe" - When Yisro converted to Judaism he didn't enter kindergarten level. He had already experienced the odyssey of pursuit of theology. He studied and practiced all religions of the world. When becoming Jewish he had the arsenal of refutation of all the false ideologies that the other religions embodied. Thus he was a fitting father-in-law for Moshe, who in his own manner had the deepest understanding and appreciation of his own religion. (Shem miShmuel)

Ch. 18, v. 1: "Asher ossoh Elokim l'Moshe ul'Yisroel" - Moshe and the bnei Yisroel were downtrodden in Egypt. Hashem took them out of this corrupt environment and elevated them to such a level that they would shortly be ready to accept the Holy Torah. This brought them to the level of "ani omarti elohim a'tem" (T'hilim 82:6). When Yisro heard that Hashem made Moshe and Yisroel "elohim," turning slaves into masters, he came. (Rabbi Avrohom Yisochor of Radomsk in Chesed l'Avrohom)

Ch. 20, v. 3: "Lo yi'h'yeh l'cho elohim acheirim al ponoy" - Why doesn't the Torah prohibit being an atheist? Everyone has a god, be it honour, power, lusts, etc. The Torah only has to prohibit against OTHER gods. (Rabbi J.B. Soloveitchik)

Ch. 20, v. 7: "Lo siso es shem Hashem Elokecho lashov" - Don't carry upon yourself the Name of Hashem with falsehood. Don't present yourself in public as a more pious and holy person than you really are. (Ohr Hachaim Hakodosh)

Ch. 20, v. 8: "Zochor es yom haShabbos l'kadsho" - The verses seem to jump back and forth, first saying to sanctify Shabbos, then to work for six days, and then again mentioning that the seventh day is to be set aside as Shabbos for Hashem. Why not say to work for six days and then to remember and to sanctify Shabbos? This teaches us that we must remember during the six weekdays, when we work, to involve ourselves in work in such a manner that we can totally put work out of our mind when Shabbos comes, "k'ilu kol mlach't'cho asuyoh." (Sforno)

Ch. 20, v. 11: "Al kein beirach Hashem es yom haShabbos va'y'kadsheihu" - Hashem both blessed and sanctified Shabbos with manna. Just as the manna took on almost every taste, so too, Shabbos takes on the taste that we choose. There are those who are looking for a good shloof, a good meal, or leisurely socializing. There are also those who look forward to a "mei'ein olom habo," a Shabbos replete with an elevation of the spirit. (Mimaynos Ha'netzach)

Ch. 20, v. 12: "Ka'beid es ovicho" - This Command comes right after the command to sanctify Shabbos. This alludes to the words of the Holy Zohar who says that when one creates "chidushei Torah" on Shabbos he crowns his father with honour even after he has passed on. (Chid"o in Nachal K'dumim)


See also Sedrah Selections and Oroh V'Simchoh

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