• Daily Aliya for Yitro, Shvii (7th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: The Israelites were left traumatized by the overwhelming revelation, the awesome “light and sound” show. They turned to Moshe and asked that from thereon he serve as an intermediary between them and G‑d—Moshe should hear G‑d’s word and transmit it to the people. Moshe agreed. The reading concludes with a prohibition against creating idolatrous graven images – considering that no image was seen when G‑d revealed Himself on Mount Sinai – and the commandment to erect a sacrificial altar. The altar stones should not be hewn with iron implements, nor should there be steps leading to the top of the altar.

    Metal implements represent the sword, which shortens life; the Altar represents the lengthening of life. From this rule comes the custom to remove or cover the bread-knife during Birkat HaMazon, since our table is likened to the Altar.

  • Daily Aliya for Yitro, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: G‑d descended upon the mountain, and summoned Moshe to its summit. G‑d instructed Moshe to again warn the Israelites about the tragic end that awaited anyone who approaches the mountain itself. Only Moshe and his brother Aaron were allowed on the mountain during this time. G‑d then spoke the Ten Commandments to the Israelite nation. They are: 1) Belief in G‑d. 2) Not to worship idols. 3) Not to take G‑d’s name in vain. 4) To keep the Shabbat. 5) To honor parents. 6) Not to murder, 7) commit adultery, 8) steal, 9) bear false witness or 10) covet another’s property.

    The third commandment prohibits swearing in vain. This is defined as (1) swearing to the truth of something that is obviously true and well-known – (i.e. that the sun is hot); (2) to swear in denial of an obvious truth – (i.e. that the Moon is made of cheese); (3) to swear to violate the Torah – (i.e. that one will eat pork). Such an oath is immediately void since we are considered to have taken a prior oath (at Sinai) to not eat pork. Hence, the oath is in vain and a disrespectful and potentially harmful use of G-d’s name; (4) to swear to do something that is impossible – (i.e. to stay awake for a full week). The common denominator of these types of oaths is that they all “cheapen” the use of G-d’s name and threaten the smooth functioning of society which often must rely on the seriousness of a real oath.

  • Daily Aliya for Yitro, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe conveyed to the people G‑d’s words, who, in turn, accepted upon themselves to do all that G‑d commands of them. G‑d then instructed Moshe to have the Israelites prepare themselves, because in three days’ time He would reveal Himself atop the mountain to the entire nation. The Israelites were commanded to sanctify themselves and were warned not to approach the mountain until after the divine revelation. On the morning of the third day, thunder, lightning, a thick cloud and the piercing sound of a shofar emanated from the mountaintop. Mt. Sinai was smoking and trembling, while the sound of the shofar grew steadily louder. Moshe escorted the shuddering and frightened nation to the mountain, and settled them at its base.

    G-d tells Moshe that the People should “sanctify themselves today AND tomorrow”. It is relatively easy to sanctify oneself on the day of the great miraculous events of receiving the Torah. The challenge to each of us is to sanctify ourselves on the many tomorrows that follow. The days after the magnificent spiritual experiences. The days when our lives return to “normal” is what being a Jew is about.

  • Daily Aliya for Yitro, Revii (4th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Six weeks after leaving Egypt, the Israelites arrived in the Sinai Desert and encamped at the foot of Mount Sinai. Moshe ascended the mountain where G‑d gave him a message to transmit to the people. Included in this message was G‑d’s designation of the Israelites as “His treasure out of all peoples” and a “kingdom of princes and a holy nation.”

    In the third month following the Exodus, on “this” day, they arrived at the Sinai Wilderness. Why “this” day, and not “that” day? The answer is because the Torah is a living guide for our lives, to be constantly rediscovered and relived. Some say that the custom that some people follow of standing for Torah reading is based on this idea. Just as the People stood at Sinai, so too do we experience anew “the standing at Har Sinai” each time we hear the words of the Torah being read to us.

  • Daily Aliya for Yitro, Shlishi (3rd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe accepts Yitro’s suggestions and selects the judges. Commentaries point out that the actual qualifications of the judges that Moshe selected were more “modest” than Yitro had recommended. In theory, the very highest caliber person should be sought after as judge. In reality, we often have to settle for the best we can find in our society. In other words, even if our current leaders don’t live up to those of our past, doesn’t mean we should respect them any less.

    Moshe sends Yitro off on his journey to Midyan (to convert his family – Rashi).

  • Daily Aliya for Yitro, Sheni (2nd Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Yitro observed Moshe adjudicating all the disputes that arose among the Israelites. Yitro suggested to Moshe that such a system, one that placed such a great burden on Moshe’s shoulders, would eventually wear him down. Instead, he advised Moshe to appoint a hierarchy of wise and righteous judges and to delegate his responsibilities—with Moshe presiding only over the most difficult cases. This would also free up Moshe’s time to teach the Israelites the teachings of the Torah that he hears from G‑d.

    Why does it take an outsider to realize that Moshe was doing things inefficiently? Many times we’re so busy getting through our lives that we fail to stop and see the bigger picture. Meanwhile, our friends and family see snapshots of our lives, and can often point out things we may not realize or notice. Such was the case with Yitro, who wasn’t caught up in the whirlwind of miracles and life-changing events. To Moshe’s credit, he realized Yitro’s suggestions were good ones, and adapted them.

  • Daily Aliya for Yitro, Rishon (1st Aliya)

    General Overview: In this week’s Parsha, Yitro, Moshe’s father-in-law, Yitro, arrives at the Israelite encampment, and advises them to set up a smoothly functioning legal system. The Israelites experience the Divine revelation at Mount Sinai and hear the Ten Commandments.

    Aliya Summary: Yitro, Moshe’s father-in-law, having heard all the miracles that G‑d wrought for the Israelites, came from his native Midian to the Israelite desert encampment—bringing along Moshe’s wife and two sons. Moshe warmly greeted his father-in-law and recounted to him all that G‑d had done to the Egyptians. Yitro thanked G‑d for all the miracles and offered thanksgiving sacrifices.

  • Daily Aliya for Yitro, Shvii (7th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: The Israelites were left traumatized by the overwhelming revelation, the awesome “light and sound” show. They turned to Moshe and asked that from thereon he serve as an intermediary between them and G‑d—Moshe should hear G‑d’s word and transmit it to the people. Moshe agreed. The reading concludes with a prohibition against creating idolatrous graven images – considering that no image was seen when G‑d revealed Himself on Mount Sinai – and the commandment to erect a sacrificial altar. The altar stones should not be hewn with iron implements, nor should there be steps leading to the top of the altar.

    Metal implements represent the sword, which shortens life; the Altar represents the lengthening of life. From this rule comes the custom to remove or cover the bread-knife during Birkat HaMazon, since our table is likened to the Altar.

  • Daily Aliya for Yitro, Shishi (6th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: G‑d descended upon the mountain, and summoned Moshe to its summit. G‑d instructed Moshe to again warn the Israelites about the tragic end that awaited anyone who approaches the mountain itself. Only Moshe and his brother Aaron were allowed on the mountain during this time. G‑d then spoke the Ten Commandments to the Israelite nation. They are: 1) Belief in G‑d. 2) Not to worship idols. 3) Not to take G‑d’s name in vain. 4) To keep the Shabbat. 5) To honor parents. 6) Not to murder, 7) commit adultery, 8 ) steal, 9) bear false witness or 10) covet another’s property.

    The third commandment prohibits swearing in vain. This is defined as (1) swearing to the truth of something that is obviously true and well-known – (i.e. that the sun is hot); (2) to swear in denial of an obvious truth – (i.e. that the Moon is made of cheese); (3) to swear to violate the Torah – (i.e. that one will eat pork). Such an oath is immediately void since we are considered to have taken a prior oath (at Sinai) to not eat pork. Hence, the oath is in vain and a disrespectful and potentially harmful use of G-d’s name; (4) to swear to do something that is impossible – (i.e. to stay awake for a full week). The common denominator of these types of oaths is that they all “cheapen” the use of G-d’s name and threaten the smooth functioning of society which often must rely on the seriousness of a real oath.

  • Daily Aliya for Yitro, Chamishi (5th Aliya)

    Aliya Summary: Moshe conveyed to the people G‑d’s words, who, in turn, accepted upon themselves to do all that G‑d commands of them. G‑d then instructed Moshe to have the Israelites prepare themselves, because in three days’ time He would reveal Himself atop the mountain to the entire nation. The Israelites were commanded to sanctify themselves and were warned not to approach the mountain until after the divine revelation. On the morning of the third day, thunder, lightning, a thick cloud and the piercing sound of a shofar emanated from the mountaintop. Mt. Sinai was smoking and trembling, while the sound of the shofar grew steadily louder. Moshe escorted the shuddering and frightened nation to the mountain, and settled them at its base.

    G-d tells Moshe that the People should “sanctify themselves today AND tomorrow”. It is relatively easy to sanctify oneself on the day of the great miraculous events of receiving the Torah. The challenge to each of us is to sanctify ourselves on the many tomorrows that follow. The days after the magnificent spiritual experiences. The days when our lives return to “normal” is what being a Jew is about.

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