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Yitro 5777

Yitro (Exodus 18-20 )

by Kalman Packouz

GOOD MORNING!  My friend, Sunny Goldstein, of blessed memory, told me the story of a young man he met who was wearing the head covering and clothing of an Eastern religion. He asked for his name and the young man responded with a 15 letter Sanskrit name.

Sunny asked if he were married and the young man replied, "No, but they will pick a wife for me soon." Then Sunny asked where he was from and what his parents did and his previous name. The young man was from a small town in Pennsylvania, his parents were tailors and his previous name was obviously Jewish.

Sunny inquired further, "Why did you go away from your own heritage and how did you become involved in your present lifestyle?" The young man replied that, "My father forced me to go synagogue, to wear a yarmulka; my parents were always working and never home; I affiliated with the group while studying at University."

And then Sunny gave his insight, "If your father told you to marry somebody Jewish you would have objected that he is controlling your life, yet you let them pick a wife for you. You objected to your father telling you to wear a yarmulka, yet you let your new religion choose your head covering and clothing. You're angry at your parents for not being home for you, yet you had no objection that they worked 14 hours a day so that you could go to university -- so tell me this! Why didn't you go to your parent's tailor shop after school to help out so that they wouldn't have to work 14 hours a day and could come home earlier?

At some point in life we must stop blaming our parents, our teachers, our society and take responsibility for our own lives. It is sad to see a 15 year old blaming his parents, schools and society for his own lack of success; it is pathetic to listen to a 35 year old harping on the same old story.

Rather, we should set goals, make plans, and work out strategies to do the best we can with our lives. And a good part of the success we will have comes for our embracing the good we have gotten from parents, schools and society and expressing our gratitude. Then we will have a positive outlook which gives the strength and fortitude to succeed. To place an exclamation point on this important idea, I would like to share with you a story from Dr. Howie Liebowitz, an alumnus of our Aish HaTorah College of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.

"I was working in the emergency room when a 'Code' was called in the cafeteria. A woman was visiting her husband at the hospital when she was struck with a massive heart attack. She "flatlined" -- no heartbeat. We were working frantically on her. Every moment was an eternity.

"After 15 minutes there was still no heartbeat. My fellow doctors began to move away, having given up hope. I continued to try. A life is precious. Finally, at about a half-hour I got a blip -- her heart started to work! We rushed her into the emergency room and managed to stabilize her.

"Six hours later, at the end of my shift, I decided to check on her. She was sitting up in bed talking with her husband. As I walked into the room, her husband says, 'Dear, this is Dr. Leibowitz. He is the one who saved your life!'

"The woman looked at me ... and said, 'I don't know what to say. 'Thank you' is what you say to someone who holds the door for you. Doctor, I want you to know that every time I hold my grandchild, every time I go for a walk with my husband, every time I see a sunset, I am thanking you."

Dr. Leibowitz told the story to express his gratitude to Rabbi Noah Weinberg and Aish HaTorah. But, what lesson should we learn from the story?

When was the last time you called your mother and father to thank them for bringing you in to this world and for loving you? When was the last time you called that special teacher? When was the last time you thanked your friends for being there for you? And if your parents, special teacher or friend aren't still around to express your thanks, remember -- every time you hold a child, walk with someone or see a sunset -- you should be living your life thanking those who made it possible.


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Torah Portion of the week

Yisro/Yitro, Exodus 18:1 -20:23

This is the Torah portion containing the giving of the Ten Commandments. Did you know that there are differences in the Ten Commandments as stated here (Exodus 20:1 -14) and restated later in Deuteronomy 5:6 - 18? (Suggestion: have your children find the differences as a game at the Shabbat table during dinner).

Moses' father-in-law, Jethro (Yitro or Yisro in the Hebrew) joins the Jewish people in the desert, advises Moses on the best way to serve and judge the people -- by appointing a hierarchy of intermediaries -- and then returns home to Midian. The Ten Commandments are given, the first two were heard directly from God by every Jew and then the people begged Moses to be their intermediary for the remaining eight because the experience was too intense.

The portion concludes with the Almighty telling Moses to instruct the Jewish people not to make any images of God. They were then commanded to make an earthen altar; and eventually to make a stone altar, but without the use of a sword or metal tool.

* * *

Dvar Torah
based on Love Your Neighbor by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"Honor your father and mother in order that your days may be long upon the Land which the your God gives to you" (Exodus 20:12).

It also states:

"Every man, his mother and father shall he fear" (Levitcus 19:3).

Below are some basic laws pertaining to this commandment:

  1. A child should consider his parents distinguished, even if others do not consider them so.
  2. We must always speak to our parents with a soft and pleasant tone.
  3. A child must not contradict his parents. (Yorah Daiah 240:1 -- The Code of Jewish Law)
  4. A child must not call his parent by name. (Yorah Daiah, 240:1)
  5. A child must not sit in a place where his parent usually sits.
  6. A child should fulfill his parent's requests with a pleasant facial expression.
  7. You are obligated to stand up before your father and your mother when they enter the room. (YD 240:7)
  8. A child has no right to humiliate or embarrass his parents, regardless of what they do to him.
  9. If a parent tells a child to violate either a Torah law or rabbinical law, he is forbidden to comply.
  10. A child must be careful not to awaken his parents.

Parents should make sure that their young children show respect towards them and others. If a young child forms the habit of being disrespectful to his parents or others, he will also lack respect when he grows up. (This is why I never let my children call adults by their first names even if my friends introduce themselves to my kids using just their first name.) The reward for honoring parents is long life. Therefore, if a parent sincerely loves his children, he should make sure that they fulfill this commandment!


Candle Lighting Times

February 17
(or go to

Jerusalem 4:52
Guatemala 5:49 - Hong Kong 6:03 - Honolulu 6:13
J'Burg 6:31 - London 5:01 - Los Angeles 5:01
Melbourne 7:58 - Mexico City 6:20 - Miami 5:58
New York 5:15 - Singapore 7:03 - Toronto 5:33

Quote of the Week

Honor your parents ...
and your children will honor you



In Loving Memory of
Leah Stein
In Memory of
Bessie Galbut

Her Loving Family


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