Parshat Yitro: Eyes that see, a nose that smells and a heart that listens

Nadav Nizri

Parshat Yitro: Eyes that see, a nose that smells and a heart that listens Rabbi Nadav Nizri is the administrative director of the Robert M. Beren Machanaim Hesder Yeshiva Yitro, the Midianite priest, comes to Mount Sinai after hearing of the splitting of the Red Sea and the war between Amalek and the Israelites, and …

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“Parsha and Purpose” – Yitro 5780

“Parsha and Purpose” – Parshat Yitro 5780
Rabbi Kenneth Brander’s weekly insights into the parsha 

“And all the people saw the sounds– Accepting the Torah and finding our spiritual space

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“And all the people saw the sounds– Accepting the Torah and finding our spiritual space

This week’s Torah portion, Parshat Yitro provides us with so much material for discussion. Central to the Torah reading is Aseret haDibrot, often erroneously translated as “the Ten Commandments. ”

“Aseret haDibrot” are neither the sum total of all the Torah’s commandments, nor are they “Ten Suggestions”. They are “Ten Statements”.

How many commandments are iterated in the “Aseret haDibrot”? Is the first statement “I am the Lord your God” a commandment, or is it an introductory statement, a preamble for the rest? Can all the commandments be subsumed under these ten statements?

These are important conversations that, please God, we will have together over the course of many years of discussion.

I’d like to focus today just on one sentence that appears after receiving the Aseret haDibrot, the Ten Statements, or Ten-plus Commandments, or so.

The Torah describes the experience that the Jewish people had at Mount Sinai: “ve’chol ha’am ro’im et ha’kolot ….” “And all of the people see the sounds.”

The commentaries point out that seeing sounds is a miracle. There were a lot of miracles that took place at Mount Sinai, in addition to the ability to see sounds. The Midrash tells us that that at Mount Sinai all those who had difficulty hearing, and others who had other handicaps were healed.  All these challenges were overcome on Mount Sinai; for that reason that hospitals throughout the world are called Mount Sinai, based upon these Midrashic statements.

The ancient commentary known as Targum Yonatan ben Uziel, expresses another beautiful idea in its reflection on the words, “ve’chol ha’am ro’im et ha’kolot”.  Although this insight was written down in ancient times, it is so relevant to us in this day and age.

“Ve’chol ha’am ro’im et ha’kolot,” according to the Targum Yonatan ben Uziel, is that everyone found their own sound, saw their own path, and even though the Torah was given to all the Jewish people, “ke’ish echad, be’lev echad,” in one unified fashion, everyone found their own portal of entry.

What an important message! The best way to treat our children “the same” is to realize that they are different. That they hear different sounds, that different components of the Jewish experience speak to them.

The way that we relate to other Jews with respect is to realize that each of us looks at Judaism and connects to different aspects of Judaism.

“Ve’chol ha’am ro’im et ha’kolot” – there is a symphony of voices that can complement each other to hear – if we listen. 

And that’s why it pains me when we hear leaders challenge the authenticity of other Jews. When leaders speak about Soviet Jews or Ethiopian Jews as not Jewish, they are missing an opportunity. Even if there are halachic challenges involved, “ro’im et ha’kolot,” these Jews are searching for their sounds, they are searching for their space – they seek their own way to relate to our Jewish heritage.

So many of us spent time protesting to let Soviet Jews leave the Soviet Union.  Now we have to “ro’im et ha’kolot.” We don’t have to “let our people go” – we have to “let our people know.” We have to find ways in which every Jew, and every human being, can “ro’im et ha’kolot,” can find their spiritual voice and space.

Please God, we will re-accept the luchot, the Aseret HaDibrot, this Shabbat. Each and every one of us will find our own space, will find our own music, and will allow others to find their own music, within the parameters of Jewish tradition, so that we can engage God in ways that allow us to create a symphony of conversations between us as a people and our beloved engagement with God.

Shabbat Shalom.

“Shabbat Shalom” – Parshat Yitro 5780

Shabbat Shalom: Parshat Yitro (Exodus 18:1 – 20:23) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel –   “And now, if you will surely hearken to my voice and observe My Covenant, then you shall be for Me a chosen treasure (segulah) from amongst all the nations, because all of the earth is Mine And you shall be …

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Parshat Yitro: The Juxtaposition of Amalek and Yitro

Rabbi Yitzchak Blau

Parashat Yitro: The Juxtaposition of Amalek and Yitro There are bad things in the world, but there also are things that are very good. Some Jews see the entire non-Jewish world as Amalek, or as something despicable, but those who don’t recognize the righteousness of certain gentiles and the benevolence of world culture are gravely mistaken. …

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“Shabbat Shalom” – Yitro 5779

Shabbat Shalom: Parshat Yitro (Exodus 18:1-20:23) By Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – “And Jethro the Priest of Midian, the father-in-law of Moses, heard all that God had done for Moses and his people; that He had taken Israel out of Egypt.” (Exodus 18:1) This Torah portion records how Jethro, Moses’ Midianite father-in-law, heard of …

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“Shabbat Shalom” – Yitro 5778

Parshat Yitro (Exodus 18:1-20:23) Rabbi Shlomo Riskin Efrat, Israel – “And the entire nation responded together and said, “Everything the Lord has spoken we shall do” (Ex. 19:8). Religious coercion has long threatened Israeli society, bringing to the surface all the tensions inherent in our unprecedented experiment of maintaining a state that is both “Jewish …

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“Parsha to the Point” – Yitro 5778

Parshat Yitro (Exodus 18:1-20:23)  Rabbi David Stav  As we read Parshat Yitro this Shabbat, we find the central theme of the entire Torah: the connection between God and mankind, through which the Almighty guides us, telling us which behaviors are appropriate, and which ones we should avoid. This is not something we should take for granted. …

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אישה ופרשה: יתרו תשע”ז

  שומרים על קשר משה רוצה שכל אחד מעם ישראל יחווה את הקשר הכי ישיר שניתן מול הקב”ה, כמו שהוא זכה לעשות. וכך הוא מוצא עצמו הדיין היחיד לעם ישראל ועומד בפניה דילמה אל מול הצורך למערכת משפט יעילה ומסודרת. סאלי מאיר מדור פרשת השבוע של אתר כיפה, כ שבט תשע”ז, 16/02/2017 פרשת יתרו פותחת …

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