Parshas: Yisro

Parshas: Yisro

The weekly portion begins with Moses’ father-in-law, Yisro, arriving at the Jewish people’s camp in the desert, where he is greeted warmly by a large entourage. Yisro was inspired to join them when he heard about all of the wonders and miracles which G-d performed for the Jewish people during the Exodus from Egypt. Upon witnessing Moses serving as the people’s sole judge from dawn until dusk, Yisro declares that this system will never work. He therefore suggests that subordinate judges be appointed to adjudicate the smaller cases. Moses agrees to this plan. The Jewish people arrive at Mt. Sinai and prepare to receive the Torah. Moses ascends the mountain and G-d tells him to convey to the people that they will be to Him a treasure from among the nations.

After three days of preparation the moment of revelation finally arrives. Amid thunder, lightning and the sound of the shofar, G-d descends upon the mountain and proclaims — with the entire Jewish people listening — the Ten Commandments. Referred to in Hebrew as the Aseres HaDibros, a more accurate translation would be the Ten Sayings or the Ten Statements.

One noteworthy feature of the revelation is that both before and since Sinai, no nation has ever made the claim that G-d spoke to an entire nation of millions of individuals. Moses then ascends the mountain to receive the remainder of the Torah from G-d, both the written and oral segments. The portion concludes with several mitzvos concerning the construction of the altar in the Temple.