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Yitro Summaries

Yitro 5778-2018

“Striving as a Jewish Ideal”

It must be the aspiration of every Jew to be a person of accomplishment, G-d-fearing and a person of truth, and for the People of Israel as a whole to become a “kingdom of priests and a holy nation.”

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Yitro 5777-2017

“The Earthen Altar: Reaching up to Heaven”

The Earthen Altar is intended to remind us that it is through the dust from which we were formed, that we establish sincere spiritual relationships–-not by bringing heaven down to earth, but by bringing earth up to heaven.

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Yitro 5776-2016

“Apparently, Not All Converts are Created Equal”

Apparently, not all converts are created equal. Jethro represents the best of all the converts, and serves as a true paradigm for future generations.

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Yitro 5775-2015

“I Shall Come to You and Bless You”

There are many important lessons to be learned from the verse in parashat Yitro: “Wherever I cause My Name to be mentioned, I shall come to you and bless you.”

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Yitro 5774-2014

“Jethro’s Blessing”

There is much that can be learned from Jethro’s blessing of G-d, when he first joined the People of Israel after their salvation from Egypt.

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Yitro 5773-2013

“The Third Commandment: Against Perjury and Profane Swearing”

The third commandment against perjury and profane swearing is often dismissed as “small stuff,” especially when compared to the “big-time” prohibitions against idolatry, adultery and murder. In reality, the third commandment is a key element in Judaism’s efforts to attain a truly moral, ethical and beneficial way of life.

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Yitro 5772-2012

“Who is the Real Jethro?”

The Torah portrays Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, as a man of great distinction. No other personage of non-Jewish origin is accorded as much honor. Yet, the Midrash offers several ambivalent portraits of the man.

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Yitro 5771-2011

“The Dark Side of Judaism”

Not only does the Torah revolutionize theology by declaring that Jewish religious leaders are fallible, it goes much further, often even highlighting their shortcomings. This is so very different from what is portrayed by other faith systems, where religious leaders are always infallible and never depicted as mistaken or ever saying or doing anything wrong.

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Yitro 5770-2010

“The Arrival of Jethro”

Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, who was once the religious leader of Midian, leaves fame and fortune behind to cast his lot with the Jewish people and their G-d. Jethro, perhaps the first convert to Judaism, sets a high standard for future converts and returnees to Jewish observance.

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Yitro 5769-2009

“Ambassadors Needed”

Jethro, the father-in-law of Moses, recommends establishing a Judicial system that can work efficiently to reduce the burdens on Moses and the people. Jethro’s advice was not just about a judicial system. It was much more!

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Yitro 5768-2008

“Welcoming Jethro, the Idolatrous Priest”

Why was Jethro, a former pagan idolater, welcomed so enthusiastically by Moses, Aaron and the people of Israel? It may very well have been in return for Jethro’s courageous renunciation of idolatry. Perhaps it was in return for Jethro’s exceptional acts of kindness that he performed for Moses, when Moses, claiming to be an Egyptian prince, arrived in Midian as a rather pathetic penniless refugee.

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Yitro 5767-2007

“Will Our Children be Our Guarantors?”

The Midrash Tanchuma states that before He gave the Torah to the People of Israel, the Al-mighty insisted on guarantors. When the patriarchs were offered as guarantors, they were rejected. Only when the children of Israel were offered, did G-d accept. If our children are to effectively serve as guarantors, they must receive an intensive Jewish education of the highest quality.

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Yitro 5766-2006

“Sanctify Them, Today and Tomorrow”

In parashat Yitro we read of the Revelation at Sinai, and the special preparations the people had to make for the Revelation. G-d tells Moses to inform the people that they should be sanctified “today and tomorrow.” Our commentators state that “today” may be easy to remain sanctified, but “tomorrow” is not always easy. This message applies not only to the generation of the revelation at Sinai, but to us as well. The tests that the ancients faced are, in fact, the very same challenges that we face today in the 21st century.

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Yitro 5765-2005

“Jethro’s Advice to an Overburdened Leader”

Jethro warns his son-in-law, Moses, that he is in danger of burning out by biting off more than he can chew. It takes a great man like Moses to heed Jethro’s difficult advice and share the leadership responsibilities with others. The well-being of the People of Israel was always Moses’s utmost concern, hence, his decision to delegate authority resulted in great benefit for the People of Israel.

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Yitro 5764-2004

“Why G-d Cannot Share the Limelight”

G-d chose to speak directly to the People of Israel when He pronounced the first two statements of the Ten Commandments. These two directives set a path of exclusive monotheistic worship for the Jewish people. These words also created a foundation of moral absolutes in the world, as well as a demand for the ethical behavior expected of those created in G-d’s image.

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Yitro 5763-2003

“Proving G-d’s existence”

While we like to speak of “proof” of G-d’s existence, Judaism does not really encourage this course of intellectual exercise, simply because the “finite” human mind cannot possibly comprehend the “Infinite.” But while there may not be any “ultimate” proof of G-d’s existence, there are surely many, many indications and abundant evidence. Indeed, a most persuasive case, from a variety of disciplines, can be made for G-d’s existence.

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Yitro 5762-2002

“Structural Secrets of the Decalogue”

The Torah contains some very powerful subliminal messages that may not be articulated in the text, or written in the letters and the ink, but may be found instead in the white spaces. That is why there are many lessons to be learned from simply studying the structure of the Ten Commandments.

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Yitro 5761-2001

“Can the Torah Prohibit Feelings that are Part of Normal Human Emotions?”

The tenth and final commandment of the Decalogue, the prohibition against covetous desires, seems to indicate that human beings can control their thoughts and their desires. Is that true?

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Yitro 5760-2000

“An Encounter with Jethro and the Non-Jewish World”

3,300 years ago, when xenophobia reigned supreme throughout the ancient world, the Torah admonished Jews not to reject sage advice simply because it emanates from a non-Jewish source. In fact, Jews are encouraged to look for good and healthy ideas anywhere in the world, Jewish and secular, and embrace those ideas with open arms.

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