• 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.

  • Dvar for Yitro (Exodus 18:1-20:23)

    The last sentence of this week’s Parsha states that ramps should lead to the altar. (Exodus 20:23)  Why are ramps used and not steps? Rashi says the issue is one of modesty.  In the ancient Near East nudity was associated with ritual activity, a link is rejected by Torah.  If there were steps, the robe of the priest would be upset while he climbed them, revealing the nakedness of his limbs.  With ramps, this would not occur.

    Rabbi Weiss offers another idea. The altar symbolizes a central place of spirituality, the ramps connecting the ground with the altar teach that in order to reach the higher world of the spirit one must be in constant motion.  Ramps imply perpetual movement, whereas steps can offer rest.  In the world of the spirit, one can either ascend or descend, never can one stand still.

  • 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.

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