Hear and Your Soul Shall Live
Insights on life from the weekly Parsha.

By: Rav Moshe Weber, Shlita, Editor: Rabbi I. Ido Weber Erlich, Shlita
Eng. Translation: Emanuel Behar, Gramatical Editor: Ari Chester

Portions of the following are included in the collection of tapes: "Shemu ViTachi Nafshechem". To obtain them, call: 02-828284, or e-mail: weber@shemayisrael.co.il

Back to Parsha homepage | Previous Issues

Parshas Yisro
Volume 15

Before engaging in the study of Torah, one should arouse himself to repent, returning to Hashem, blessed be He.

Blessed is he who brings peace between man and his fellow man, between husband and wife!

Insights on life: Before engaging in the study of Torah, one should arouse himself to repent, returning to Hashem, blessed be He.

The Sefer HaPardes, by the Ramak, explains how our sins occasionally prevent us from understanding Torah and serving Hashem, blessed be He, with a clear perception; so it says, "Your iniquities have been a barrier between you and your G-d" (Isaiah 59:2). So, before learning Torah and serving Hashem, one should examine his deeds, and confess his sins, so that he "confesses, and gives them up" (Proverbs 28:13). In the Amidah, therefore, the Sages, of blessed memory, instituted the blessing: "and bring us back to You in wholehearted repentance" directly next to the blessing: "You graciously bestow knowledge"; for Hashem must forgive our sins if we are to understand the Torah.

Source in the Parsha: "Israel journeyed from Rephidim" (19:2).

Rashi comments, "Just as their coming into the wilderness was in a state of repentance, so, too, their journey from Rephidim was in a state of repentance." This teaches us that Israel returned to Hashem in repentance, before receiving the Torah, as is written, "Now, Israel". Our Sages, of blessed memory, explain that the word "now" suggests repentance. For when Hashem, blessed be He, desired to reveal to us the Torah at Sinai, our ancestors were filthy with sins and impurity; and, since the Torah is the foundation of purity and holiness, Hashem commanded our ancestors to first repent. (Or HaChaim)

Insights on life: Blessed is he who brings peace between man and his fellow man, between husband and wife!

Source in the Parsha: "...lest you waive your sword over it, and defile it" (Exodus 20:22).

Says Rashi, "Iron defiles the stones because the alter makes peace between Israel and their Father in Heaven. Therefore, that which cuts and injures should not pass over it. This implies a Kal Vachomer - if in the case of mere stones, which neither see nor hear nor speak, the Torah commands 'You shall not wave iron over them' because these stones [which form the alter] make peace [between Israel and Hashem]; so, (Kal Vachomer),one who makes peace between man and his fellow man, between husband and wife, between family and another - how much more so punishments will not befall him [for he makes peace between Israel and Hashem, even more than stones]."

Themes in the Parsha: The Six Continuous Mitzvot & the Six Daily Remembrances.

"We have six mitzvot which are perpetual and constant, applicable at all times, all the days of our lives. These include: (1) to believe in Hashem; (2) to not believe in anything else, any 'other' than Hashem; (3) to believe in His Oneness (4) to fear Him; (5) to love Him; and (6) not to pursue your passions, the fancies of your heart and the sights of your eyes. These correspond to the six cities of refuge" (Sefer HaChinuch).

"We need to explain the inner intention of stating this symbolism [how the six mitzvot correspond to the six cities of refuge], by the author of the Sefer HaChinuch: behold, the evil inclination (the Yetzer Hara) runs after a person, desiring his death.... one should find a way, therefore, to defend himself from the evil inclination. Thus, Hashem gave us these six constant, continuous mitzvot! When these six continuous mitzvot are found constantly in one's thoughts, they become the six cities of refuge - from the Yetzer Hara. For when one fulfills and remembers these six mitzvot, he cleaves to Hashem, and fulfills the significance of the word 'Mitzvah', which is the language of association and connection; that is, through mitzvot, one dwells in association and unity with Hashem, blessed be He, and then, 'strong is His dwelling!'" (Rebbe Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch).

Just as we have six constant mitzvot, we likewise have six remembrances, which we must recall daily. These are: to remember the Exodus from the land of Egypt (Deut 6:3); to remember the golden calf (Deut 9:7); to remember the giving of the Torah (Deut 4:9- 10); to remember the Sabbath and hallow it (Exodus 20:8); to remember the attack of Amalek (Deut 25:17-19); and to remember what Hashem, blessed be He, did to Miriam (Deut 24:9, Numbers 12:10).

These six remembrances correspond to the six continuous mitzvot, listed above. To elucidate: (1) We must constantly believe in Hashem, like it says, "I am Hashem, your G-d, Who has taken you from the land of Egypt, from the house of slavery" (Exodus 20:2). This corresponds to the remembrance of the Exodus, "So that you remember the day you came out of the land of Egypt, all the days of your life" (Deut 16:3).

(2) Second, we must "not believe in anything else, any other [besides Him]," like it says, "You shall not recognize the gods of others in My presence" (Exodus 20:3). This mitzvah corresponds to the remembrance of the golden calf.

(3) We must believe in His Oneness: "Hear O Israel, the Lord (Havayah) is our G-d, the Lord (Havayah) is One" (Deut 6:4), corresponding to remembering Matan Torah, the revelation of the Torah at Sinai, for at the giving of the Torah and revelation of the Oneness of Hashem, Israel merited to recite the Shema, as is brought in the Midrash: "When Hashem said, 'I am Hashem, your G-d', Israel said, 'The Lord is our G-d, the Lord is One.'"

(4) We must love Him, like it says, "You shall love the Lord your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might" (Deut 5:6); this corresponds to "Remember the Sabbath day, to sanctify it" (Exodus 20:8), for Sabbath (Shabbat) corresponds to love, like it says in our benedictions, "And You , Lord our G-d, in Your love, has given us the Sabbath day, to rest." (for further explanation, see Zohar 3:pg.94)

(5) We must fear Him, like it says, "Hashem, your G-d, shall you fear" (Deut 6:13). This continuous mitzvah corresponds to the remembrance of Amalek's attack, for we know that "he [Amalek] did not fear G-d" (Deut 25:18).

(6) To avoid pursuing the thoughts of your heart and sights of your eyes, like it says, "You shall not follow after your heart or after your eyes, after which you go astray"; this corresponds to remembering Hashem's actions towards Miriam, like it says, "Who is the man who is eager for life, who desires years of good fortune - guard your tongue from evil [do not speak Loshon Hara!]" (Psalms 34:15); and as the Proverb says, "He who wants life from Above, will guard his mouth, not to defile it ."- and who he speaks Loshon Hara defiles it. Great, indeed, is he who guards his mouth from defilement, for the Holy One, blessed be He, guards him! (Reishit Chochmoh)

Thus explains the Baal Shem Tov on: "And their descending to Egypt was compelled by their speech" - the cause of the exile to Egypt was evil speech. Concerning guarding one's tongue, the Gra writes: Every instant that one closes his mouth, he merits the hidden light that even an angel... cannot even fathom; thereby one atones for all sins, and saves himself from the lowest of the lower worlds, like it says,"He who wants life from Above, will guard his mouth, not to defile it ."


"Remember the holy Sabbath day, to sanctify it." (Exodus 20:8)

The Sages forbade all Jews from instructing a gentile to perform a forbidden action on Shabbat, whether without charge or for a wage - even if the instructions were given before Shabbat, and even if he doesn't need that action performed until after Shabbat. This is hinted to in the Torah, like it says regarding Yom Tov, "any work shall not be done on them" (Exodus 12:16), meaning, even through other people, who are not obligated to sanctify the Sabbath and holidays. From this prohibition - that a Jew mustn't instruct a gentile or even a child to violate Yom Tov, we learn a Kal Vachomer, for how much more so on Shabbat, one mustn't do this....

The foundation of this prohibition, as instituted by the Sages (it is not a commandment written in the Torah), Israel should not come to violate the holy Shabbat themselves, through instructing others to perform a forbidden action. (Rambam, Shulchan Aruch HaRav)

On the same issue, Rashi, commentating on the Talmud, Avodah Zorah, writes: "that which is forbidden for a Jew to say to a gentile - perform this work for me [on Shabbat], this is because of the injunction: 'Refraining from pursuing your affairs and speaking of profane matters, you shall delight in the Lord' (Isaiah 55:13)."

This commentary of Rashi raises two questions. First, the Rambam seemingly bases the above prohibition on the decrees of the Sages, whereas Rashi seems to imply that this prohibition is based on Kaballah - that is, the words of the prophets (the Neviim and Ketubim of the Bible, specifically, Isaiah)?! Secondly, whereas the Rambam learns that this prohibition applies to Shabbat and Yom Tov alike, Rashi seems to suggest that it applies only to Shabbat!?

Secrets of the Torah.

"Well founded for all eternity, wrought of truth and iniquity" (Psalms 111:8).

We shall explain the reason for the order of the following portions in the Torah, starting with "Amalek..." (from Beshalach), then "Yisro", then "In the third month" (also from Yisro), and finally "And these are the judgments" (from Mishpatim).

We know that the descendants of Esav are a painful thorn to Israel, in all generations, whether in the very first wars of Israel, and even still today! So, just as Moshe and Yehoshua were victorious in the very first wars, likewise in the last wars of today, we will be victorious, as in the Exile we are still in the hands of Esav. In the future, we will be redeemed by Elijah, from the tribe of Levi, and Moshiach, the son of Joseph, just like Yehoshua was from the tribe of Joseph. This corresponds to the portion of the Torah, "Amalek." Then comes the portion "Yisro" - just as in the first redemption of Egypt, Jethro (Yisro) converted and came to our faith, similarly in the last redemption, all idol worshipers will repent, returning to true faith in G-d, who is One.

Afterwards, the portion "In the third month" follows, corresponding to Matan Torah... when "the land will be filled with knowledge of the Lord, as water covers the sea." Finally, we will experience the day of judgment, the resurrection of the dead, which corresponds to "These are the mishpatim (judgments)" for through the judgments, man will leave [from his sinful ways]...

Regarding the judgment of the Resurrection of the Dead, we read in Daniel (12:2): "These to eternal life, these to reproach, to everlasting abhorrence." The word "these" occurs twice, hinting at the relationship of the beginning of times, the events in the Torah (specifically, the four portions, discussed above) to the events which will occur at the end of times, the days of the Messianic Era. Indeed, the placement and order of these four portions in the Torah reflects deep, divine intention. (Rabeinu Bechayai,Yisro)

"And you shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (19:6)

Near the home of Rabbi Yisrael Abukatsera the Baba Sali, of blessed memory, we built a new mikvah, during the month of Tamuz, in the midst of the dry, hot summer. When the structure was complete, we lacked water - rain water, of course, in order to finish the mikvah. Our master, the Baba Sali, lifted his eyes to Heaven, and proclaimed, "Master of the universe - You commanded us to behave in holiness and purity. So, we desire to fulfill Your will. Please, please, for the sake of Your great name, let it rain!"

Suddenly, clouds gathered in the sky, and instantly, rain fell! In no time at all, the mikvah filled with water. However, we realized that the mikvah was not quite built according to the opinion of the Beit Yehuda, so we informed our master, our teacher, the Baba Sali. Immediately, he ordered us to drain the mikveh. Someone raised an objection - "It does not rain like this in the middle of the summer ," they said. "This is a rare miracle!" He turned to Baba Sali, and said, "I take it upon myself, the sin, that this mikvah is not perfect, built according to the opinion of the Beit Yehuda."

But our teacher, our master, the Baba Sali, stood firm, replying, "we are obligated to empty the mikveh." So, we drained the mikvah, and completed the design according to the Beit Yehuyda, in splendor and perfection.

The Baba Sali then raised his eyes to Haven again, and beseeched of Hashem: "Master of the universe, you know very well that we made this mikveh not for my honor, or the honor of my father, but rather, only to increase the increase purity among Israel, Your people. Please, don't turn Your face from us, and let it rain! Let the mikveh will with fresh, new rain water..." Then, as before, in the midst of the dry, scolding summer, the sky darkened... clouds gathered... and rain began to fall.

Back to Parsha homepage | Previous Issues

This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.
For information on subscriptions, archives, and other Shema Yisrael
Classes, send mail to parsha@shemayisrael.co.il

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel