by, Rabbi Uri Ayalon
Uri Ayalon is the rabbi at
Kehilat Yotzer Or in
Establishing an equitable judicial system is the necessary condition for receiving the divine moral wisdom of the Torah.
The impact of Parashat Yitro on world civilization and the Jewish nation is immense. The Israelites experience an extreme change at that time. No longer slaves, they become free.
We might ask ourselves why this Torah portion starts with the story of Yitro, Moses' father-in-law, rather than with the main issue of the parashah, the foundational laws addressed to this freed people
Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law and the pagan priest of Midian, heard what God did for Moses and the Israelites. He took Moses’ wife and two sons and brings them to Moses in the wilderness. After a passionate reunion, Moses shared with Jethro the whole story of how the Lord rescued the Hebrews from bondage to Pharaoh in Egypt.
Jethro rejoiced, saying, “Blessed be the Lord. Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the gods.”
Jethro then made sacrifices to God and everyone feasted.
The next day, Jethro watched Moses settle disputes between the people. “Why do you sit as judge, Moses, while the people stand about you from morning to night?”
“Because the people come to me to seek God. I decide between man and his neighbor and make known the laws of God.”
Prince of Egypt - Moses meets Yitro
Isaiah's initiation as a prophet.
Ashkenazic Custom: Isaiah 6:1-7:6, 9:5-6
Sephardic Custom: Isaiah 6:1-13
A summary of the Haftarah
In Parashat Yitro we read about God's wondrous revelation of the Torah. The Israelites were awestruck as they experienced God's presence: "All the people saw the thunder and lightning, the blare of the horn and the mountain smoking; they fell back and stood at a distance" (Exodus 20:15).