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Yitro 5764

Yitro (Exodus 18-20 )

by Kalman Packouz

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GOOD MORNING!  Rabbi Shalom Schwadron, a moving speaker and story teller, often told of the time he saw a child injured on a playground. He picked up the child and ran with him to the doctor. On the way, an elderly bubbie (grandma) saw him running with an injured child she assumed was his grandson and reassuringly called out, "Don't worry, Rav Schwadron. All will be well. All will be well." When Rabbi Schwadron got closer, she saw that the child Rabbi Schwadron was carrying was not his grandson, but HER grandson! At that point, the bubbie started shrieking and crying, "My Meir, My Meir!"

When it is our child or our grandchild we cry. We feel the pain. Last week I included a little note asking you to read an article about Chezi Goldberg, of blessed memory, "If You Don't Cry, Who Will?" on He wrote the article 2 years before he was murdered in the recent bus bombing in Jerusalem. The death of someone like Chezi who cared for and helped so many as a counselor and as an advocate for greater security, who did great acts of personal kindness - hits home how inured many of us have become to the events and to the pain that so many are suffering. It especially hits home when the victim is the writer calling on all of us to feel the pain, to cry.

As Chezi wrote in his article:

"What has happened to all of us? -myself included. We have turned to stone. Some would call it numbness. Some would call it collective national shock. Some would say that we all have suffered never-ending trauma and it has affected our senses. The excuses are worthless. All the reasons in the world don't justify our distance from the pain that is burning in our midst.

"When an attack happens, in the heat of the moment, we frantically check to see if someone we know has been hurt or killed. And then, if we find out that 'our friends and family are safe,' we breathe a deep sigh of relief, grunt and grumble about the latest tragic event and then, continue with our robotic motions and go on with our lives.

"The most effective way for us to stop the carnage in our midst is to wake up and to react to it from our hearts. How can we demand that God stop the tragedy, when most of us react like robots when tragedy strikes? If we don't cry about what is happening around us, who will? If you don't cry about what is happening around us, who will? If I don't cry about what is happening to us, who will? Maybe our salvation from this horrific mess will come only after we tune into our emotions and cry and scream about it."

Why don't we cry? As Chezi mentioned, when we see that it's not our relative or friend, we give a sigh of relief and go on with our lives - often as if nothing happened. Yet, we are all related and it is not just "his grandson, but OUR grandson." Every victim is a precious human being worthy of our tears.

What can we do to be more sensitive? Recently a new book was published by - "ISRAEL, Life in the Shadow of Terror -Personal Accounts and Perspectives from the Heart of the Jewish People.". As I read the stories, tears fill me eyes. My heart goes out to those who suffer. I feel a little more human.

The book gives first-person accounts from people who witnessed and survived attacks. It sensitizes. It portrays the courage, perseverance and faith of everyday Israelis. It inspires. It clarifies the pivotal issues underlying the Mideast conflict, dispels the myths and double standards. It informs and educates. It attempts to understand these events in a spiritual context to lead us to a greater appreciation of the significance of the Land of Israel in Jewish history and Jewish destiny. It gives meaning to events.

Being human - to develop character, be sensitive to others, to help others - is a lifetime project. "ISRAEL, Life in the Shadow of Terror" can help. It is available from your local Jewish bookstore, online at or by calling toll-free to 877-758-3242.

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 beg Moses to be their intermediary for the remaining eight because the experience is 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 Moshe said to his father-in-law: The people come to me to seek the Almighty." (Exodus 18:15)7)

Moshe had arranged for the people to come to him when they had questions. The prophet Shmuel, on the other hand, went to the people to deal with their needs. What can we learn from Shmuel about coming close to the Almighty?

Rabbi Chaim Shmuelevitz comments that one's closeness to the Almighty is dependent upon one's love for other people. Shmuel's going to the people showed that he had great love and concern for them.

Where did Shmuel get this great love other people? The Midrash says that the garment that his mother made for him when he was a child was with him his entire life. This garment, say Rabbi Shmuelevitz, was made with the profound love his mother had for him. This love became such a part of Shmuel that it manifested itself in his entire way of dealing with other people.

The love a mother shows her infants and young children by getting up in the middle of the night to take care of them implants in them a deep feeling of being loved. When such a child grows older he will have love for others. Any small thing a parent does with love for his children will pay off great dividends. The greater the child becomes the more many people will benefit from that love.

CANDLE LIGHTING - February 13:
(or Go to

Jerusalem  4:48
Guatemala 5:44  Hong Kong 6:00  Honolulu 6:47
J'Burg 6:34  London 4:52  Los Angeles 5:15
Melbourne 7:00  Miami 5:54  Moscow 5:11

New York 5:10  Singapore  7:04


The best solution for little problems
is to help people with big

In Loving Memory of
Stuart Reich
of blessed memory

In Loving Memory of
Julio Suster
of blessed memory

1 2 3 2,914

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