Yitro 5763

June 23, 2009

6 min read


Yitro (Exodus 18-20 )

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GOOD MORNING!  Well, we now have an Israeli in space! I don't know who is more joyous - the Israelis - or those Arabs who wish that all Jews were in space! However, I am very moved that Col. Ilan Ramon has chosen to keep kosher and Shabbat as a show of solidarity "with our tradition." He has a deep appreciation that all Jews are one family - one mishpacha - and that what one Jew does impacts all Jews.

The Torah and Talmud teach us that all Jews are guarantors for each other, we are responsible for each other - "Love your neighbor as yourself" (Leviticus 19:18), "You shall not stand idly by the blood of your fellow man" (Leviticus 19:16), "You shall correct your fellow man" (Leviticus 19:17).

The Jews and the Jewish people are suffering - not just with terrorism in Israel, but with Jews drifting away from their Jewish identity. Much of the Jewish people are like a cut flower. It stays beautiful for a little while, longer if you put an aspirin in the water, and then fades and wilts. Why? Unless we are connected to our roots and receive the nourishment (this is our Torah learning) to keep us vital, then we wilt. It is up to all of us to take our individual responsibility to help our fellow Jews and our people!

Everyone who reads the Shabbat Shalom has some level of appreciation of being Jewish and of our heritage. Yet, there are Jews who have little or no appreciation of being Jewish or our heritage. What if each of us were to choose one person or one family to bring closer to the core of the Jewish people?

What would this mean? If one is Shabbat observant, to invite the person or family for Shabbat, festivals, family events. If one is a Federation Jew, invite them to an event or to get involved in a program. If one is a JCC-identifying Jew, bring a new person to the JCC - or to your synagogue, PAC (political action committee) or organization. Just one Jew to bring closer! Each of us can do that!

What if each of us set out for 12 months to bring closer our fellow Jew of choice - to make him part of our family, to invite him to our home, to our celebrations, to call once a week and wish a good Shabbos (or Shabbat), to send a book or article every three months? Would that person have a stronger connection to being Jewish? Would the Jewish people be stronger, more vibrant? Each of us has something to offer someone else as a role model!

If you find that the Shabbat Shalom Fax and Internet Weekly connects you Jewishly in some way, then sign up just one person to receive it! For someone in South Florida you want to give a free fax subscription - fax name, number, phone number to 305-531-9334. For anyone else in the world, sign them up for a free email subscription by going to http://www.aish.com/torahportion/shalomweekly/.

What if we were to all join Col. Ramon this coming Shabbat to observe this next Shabbat? Have a special meal with our family? Light Shabbat candles before sunset? Not use the telephone, computer, home entertainment center? Not drive? Talk to our family, read a book, take a walk, take a nap - maybe even go to synagogue? What power, what pleasure! One people, one family, one mishpacha!

Torah Portion of the Week

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 related 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 Growth Through Torah by Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

The Torah states:

"And now if you will certainly listen to My voice and observe My convenant, you will be to Me a treasure from all peoples for Mine is the entire world. And you will be to Me a kingdom of Cohanim (priests) and a holy nation." (Exodus 19:5)

How is it possible for us to rise to this level?

Rashi, the great commentator, cites the Mechilta on this verse that "All beginnings are difficult." When one tries to accomplish for Torah, he might be discouraged when he finds himself running into difficulties and go from enthusiastic to disillusioned. He might tell himself, "Things are so difficult that I'll never accomplish. I'll never get anywhere even if I do try, so I might as well give up right now."

If you ever feel this way, remember that all beginnings are difficult. Expect difficulties when you commence doing something and you won't be discouraged by them. The only way to consistently meet your goals is by being persistent.

Regardless of how difficult you find it at first, as long as you consider your original goal worthwhile, keep on trying. That is the only way anyone succeeds. Very frequently, the difficulties are short-lived, and as you persevere you will find things becoming easier and easier.

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Jerusalem  4:28
Guatemala 5:38  Hong Kong 5:48  Honolulu 5:57
J'Burg 6:44  London 4:16  Los Angeles 4:56
Melbourne 8:17  Miami 5:40  Moscow 4:30

New York 4:46  Singapore  7:01


Three rules for success:
(1) Initiative
(2) Perseverance
(3) The Almighty's help

In Loving Memory of
Julio Suster
of blessed memory

In Loving Memory of
Stuart Reich
of blessed memory

Next Steps