Torah Weekly

For the week ending 6 February 2010 / 21 Shevat 5770

Parshat Yitro

by Rabbi Yaakov Asher Sinclair -
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Hearing of the miracles G-d performed forBnei Yisrael, Moshe's father-in-law Yitro arrives with Moshe's wife and sons, reuniting the family in the wilderness. Yitro is so impressed by Moshe's detailing of the Exodus from Egypt that he converts to Judaism. Seeing that the only judicial authority for the entire Jewish nation is Moshe himself, Yitro suggests that subsidiary judges be appointed to adjudicate smaller matters, leaving Moshe free to attend to larger issues. Moshe accepts his advice.Bnei Yisraelarrive at Mt. Sinai where G-d offers them the Torah. After they accept, G-d charges Moshe to instruct the people not to approach the mountain and to prepare for three days. On the third day, amidst thunder and lightning, G-d's voice emanates from the smoke-enshrouded mountain and He speaks to the Jewish People, giving them the Ten Commandments:

  1. Believe in G-d
  2. Don't worship other "gods"
  3. Don't use G-d's name in vain
  4. Observe Shabbat
  5. Honor your parents
  6. Don't murder
  7. Don't commit adultery
  8. Don't kidnap
  9. Don't testify falsely
  10. Don't covet.

After receiving the first two commandments, the Jewish People, overwhelmed by this experience of the Divine, request that Moshe relay G-d's word to them. G-d instructs Moshe to caution the Jewish People regarding their responsibility to be faithful to the One who spoke to them.


A Kingdom of Priests

“And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests…” (19:6)

A couple of months ago I was on a flight to London. A few seats in front of me a Jew in full Chassidic garb prepared to take his seat. Before this, however, he removed from his bag sections of a brown cardboard with elastic straps attached to them.

At first it crossed my mind that he was going to distract himself from the unblinking salacious eye of the video monitor in front of us by constructing a model train or car. However, I quickly dismissed this idea as I have yet to see a Chassid make a toy model at the age of forty-five.

He started to grapple with one section of cardboard, stretching its elastic over the back rest of the chair in front of him creating a cardboard wall that rose above the seat a good fifteen inches. Then he attached two side panels of equal height to this first piece, completing a booth that gave him total privacy from the undesirable images and sounds that were leaching from the video screens around him, and from the atrociously low standard of decorum of the ladies' attire in the plane.

"Kol HaKavod! (Well done!)" I thought, "I wish I had the guts to do something like that."

“And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests…”

Being a priest means that you have to be prepared to give up on some things.

Being a priest means that sometimes people will think you're 'over the top'.

Being a priest means that sometimes you're going to do things that are incredibly uncool — and not care a tinker's cuss about it.

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