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This week's 10-Minute Torah (January 22, 2022): "Parashat Yitro"

Updated: Jan 27, 2022

Parashat Yitro 5782 / פָּרָשַׁת יִתְרוֹ

Read on 22 January 2022 / 20 Sh'vat 5782.

Parashat Yitro is the 17th weekly Torah portion in the annual Jewish cycle of Torah reading.

Parashat Yitro tells of Jethro's organizational counsel to Moses and God's revelation of the Ten Commandments to the Israelites at Mount Sinai.

Triennial year 3

1: 18:1-12 · 12 p’sukim ·

2: 18:13-23 · 11 p’sukim ·

3: 18:24-27 · 4 p’sukim ·

4: 19:1-6 · 6 p’sukim ·

5: 19:7-19 · 13 p’sukim ·

6: 19:20-20:14 · 20 p’sukim ·

7: 20:15-23 · 9 p’sukim ·

maf: 20:19-23 · 5 p’sukim ·

Haftarah for Ashkenazim: Isaiah 6:1-7:6, 9:5-6 · 21 p’sukim

Haftarah for Sephardim: Isaiah 6:1-13 · 13 p’sukim

It is interesting that in setting the Triennial Cycle, the Rabbinical Assembly chose to make this portion the full kriya or reading. Why not just make the reading the actual Ten Utterances and just include the introduction in which the Israelites prepare to, in a very real sense, “meet their Maker”? How does including the part about Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, meeting up with them after the splitting of the Sea of Reeds fit into this fantastic event?

Consider that Jethro, himself, was a priest of sorts and according to rabbinic exegesis, had at one time been an idol worshipper. As a priest, and a Midian chief, he held a lot of influence and responsibility with his people. For a man of his position to acknowledge that there is one, true God is astounding and must have made quite an impact on his people.

There is a Midrash, or folklore, that discusses how Hashem offered His Teaching to other ancient peoples. All of them rejected them except us, the Israelites. We replied, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do” (Exo 19:8)! After redemption from Egyptian bondage; rescue at the Sea of Reeds; water, manna and meat, our ancestors were ready to be Hashem’s people.

But we have to remember that Hashem is not just our God nor is His Teaching meant only for us. While only we are expected to keep the 613 Mitzvot, Hashem is everybody’s God. We are only to be examples.

As Jethro suggested to Moses a better way to service justice to us, so is the Ten Commandments a way that humans can become more humane.

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