Parshat Yitro

A Student Publication of the Isaac and Mara Benmergui Torah Academy of Bergen County
Parshat Yitro               20 Shevat 5762               February 2, 2002               Vol.11 No.17

In This Issue:

Rabbi Ezra Weiner
Uriel Schechter
Noam Block
Ami Friedman
Halacha of the Week
Food For Thought
-By David Gertler
Introduction to Internet Chatting
-Rabbi Yuval Cherlow

This week's issue of Kol Torah has been sponsored by Rabbi Avi and Shulamis Pollack in honor of the birth of their daughter Naimah, on January 14th.
Mazel Tov!


Methods of Miracles
by Rabbi Ezra Weiner

On the words Vaishma Yitro Rashi asks: "What report did Yitro hear that he decided to come to Moshe?" Rashi answers Kriat Yam Suf Umalchemet Amalek. However, Rashi comments on the words Et Kol Asher Aseh Elokim Limoshe Liyisrael Amo that Kol Asher Aseh refers to the following three miracles: the Mann, the Be'er, and Amalek. Three difficulties emerge: Firstly, why is it necessary to learn the miracle of the victory against Amalek from two different phrases (ie. Vayishma Yitro and Kol Asher Aseh). Secondly, why does Rashi describe the victory against Amalek first as Milchemet Amalek and then as simply Amalek? Finally, why are the miracles of Kriat Yam Suf and Milchemet Amalek ascribed to Vayishma Yitro and the miracles of the Be'er, Mann, and Amalek ascribed to Kol Asher Aseh; after all Kriat Yam Suf and Milchemet Amalek were also miracles that "Hashem did"?

R' David ben Shmuel Halevi Segal (author of Toorei Zahav known as the Taz) answers as follows: Hashem essentially performed two types of miracles in Egypt upon the exodus of the Jews from Egypt, and during the 40 years in the Midbar. The first type was a miracle that was essential for the survival of the Jews. The Mann and Be'er are examples of this. Without food and water the Jews would have perished. These are the miracles that the Torah can describe as Kol Asher Aseh Liyisrael Amo because their purpose was for the Jews only. The second type of miracle was one whose primary objective was for Hashem to demonstrate His power and control over nature and all creatures. Kriat Yam Suf is an example of this. After all, Hashem did not have to take the Jews to Israel through the Red Sea. This is what caught Yitro's attention (Vayishma Yitro) but cannot accurately be described as Kol Asher Aseh Liyisrael Amo since it's objective was not primarily for Bnai Yisrael but rather for Hashem Himself to demonstrate to the entire world.

Regarding Amalek both objectives were employed. Obviously Hashem could have directed the Jews on a different path and they could have totally avoided Amalek. However, since Hashem wanted to demonstrate His omnipotence, He orchestrated a Milchemet Amalek. In this fashion the world would realize that only Hashem Eesh Milchama. It is for this reason that Rashi uses the phrase Milchemet Amalek with Kriat Yam Suf on the other hand once a war was waged the tired and weak Jewish nation required a miraculous (but essential) delivery from this overpowering nation of Amalek. This Rashi describes as simply Amalek ie. our salvation from Amalek.

In summary, it was the report of Hashem's wondrous miracles that demonstrated His control over nature and all living beings (i.e. Kriat Yam Suf and Milchemet Amalek) that brought Yitro to Moshe. It was the essential miracles of our salvation from Amalek the Baer and the Man that are accurately described as Kol Asher Aseh Hashem Limoshe Uliyisrael Amo .

Living in the Now

by Uriel Schechter

In the Pesukim introducing the Aseret Hadibrot the Pasuk says, Vatah Im Shamaoah Tishmiu Bikol.
Why specifically now? Why only from now on are they are they asked to listen to Hashem? The Sam Mismsoal answers that a person can only have complete Kabalat Ol Malchut Shamayim when he is free, when he is not controlled by someone else. The Yerushalmi explains that an Eved Kinaani is exempt from reciting Kriat Shema because since Shema is Kabalat Ol Malchut Shamayim and he is under someone else's control other than Hashem's, he cannot recite Shema properly. It is impossible to accept Ol Malcht Shamayim in its entirety when Hashem is not the sole ruler over you. Therefore, the reason the Pasuk has to say Viatah is because after they left Egypt they are now totally Mishueved to Hashem and they are capable of acquiring the Ol Malchut Shamayim.

Another possible explanation is based on Bnai Yisrael's actions at Masa Umerivah. At the end of Parshat Beshalach Bnai Yisrael name the place where they wereMasah Umirivah Al Riv Binei Yisrael Vial Nisatem Et Hashem Laimor Hayesh Hashem Bikirbeinu Im Ain. “They called it Masa Umerivah because of the striving of Bnai Yisrael and because they tried Hashem saying: 'Is Hashem among us or not.'” Soon after that episode, Bnai Yisrael encounter Amalek and Hashem answers Moshe's Tefilot and Bnai Yisrael defeat Amalek. Hashem's answer to Bnai Yisrael's question Hayesh Hashem Bikirbeinu Im Ain is the defeat of Amalek. For this reason Hashem says, Viatah to say that now that I have answered your question now you should listen to me and do my Mitzvot. It is only after this that Bnai Yisrael will become a Mamlechet Kohanim Vigoi Kadosh.

No Pain, No Gain

by Noam Block

Parshat Yitro begins with a description of Yitro's hearing about Yetziat Mitzrayim and Bnai Yisrael's triumphs in the Midbar. As a result of that which he heard, Yitro decides to convert to Judaism.

Not only does he decide to adopt the Jewish way of life, but the Torah tells us how he was willing to undergo hardships to do so. In Pasuk 5, it says:

Vayavo Yitro Chotain Moshe Uvanav Veishto el Moshe; el Hamidbar Asher Hu Choneh Sham Har Haelokim.

An obvious question is what is the significance in telling us where Yitro was meeting Moshe? Rashi tells us that the Torah's mention of the Midbar is done to praise Yitro. After all, Yitro enjoyed a high position in Midyan and was living in comfort and luxury. In spite of such a comfortable lifestyle, he was willing to go to the Midbar, a wasteland, and suffer the inconveniences associated with it in order to follow his desire to learn Torah.

Just as Rashi explains Yitro's going into the Midbar literally, it could also be understood figuratively. Anyone who embarks on a new undertaking, something that will be difficult and with which he may not be familiar, it is as if he goes into a Midbar, a wilderness, which is usually described as being a lonely, strange and sometimes even dangerous experience. That Yitro was willing to go into the Midbar, be it an actual Midbar where there was little of the physical comforts which he enjoyed in his home, or a spiritual Midbar, where he was alone and tired, Yitro was to be praised and was worthy of the admiration of others for the strength and courage he exhibited in following up on his resolve to learn about Torah Judaism. May we all learn the lessons taught to us by Yitro: always be willing to sacrifice for the privilege of learning or experiencing something new, and never be scared of tackling something because it is different or difficult, or something with which you are not familiar.

Marriage Purity

by Ami Friedman

In Shemot Chapter 19, the Torah tells us of Bnai Yisrael at Chorev in Chodesh Sivan. The Or Hachaim compares the giving of the Torah to marriage. If Hashem loves Bnai Yisrael so much, why didn't He shorten the path to Chorev so that Bnai Yisrael would have arrived there on Chuf Gimel Nissan? The Gemara in Sanhedrin (95a) says that Eliezer's path to Rivka's house was shortened so she could marry Yitzchak. If Hashem would perform a miracle so Yitzchak cold be married, certainly He would perform a miracle so He could be connected to Binei Yisrael!

The Or Hachaim answers that Binei Yisrael were like the Chatan Nadot. They had to be purified for seven weeks because they had just left the impure land of Egypt after being slaves for 210 years. This is why the Torah says Latzaet Binei Yisrael Maeretz Mitzrayim, for the only reason they arrived in the third month is because they left Egypt Bayom Hazeh arrived at Har Sinai the day they were purified.

If this is so, the Or Hachaim wonders why did Hashem not immediately bring Bnai Yisrael to Chorev and then have them purified? He answers that Bnai Yisrael would have wanted to receive the Aseret Hadibrot right away, but they would have had to wait seven weeks in the same manner that a Chatan wants to marry a Kallah right away and not wait seven weeks. This proves Hashem's love for them, as He gave them His laws while they were pure and did not delay the "wedding."

Somebody today may wonder why Hashem does not bring the Messiah right away. But it is important to know that Bnai Yisrael were cruelly oppressed for 2000 years and less than half of Kalal Yisrael have left a Galut of materialism and Avodah Zarah and settled in Israel. Perhaps the perils accompanying the Jews and the delaying of the Messiah's arrival may be part of a purification process. Once all of Binei Yisrael reach their destination, then Hashem will perform a "wedding."

Halacha of the Week

When one is eating a fruit or a vegetable in a manner in which they are not normally eaten, one should recite the Beracha of Shehakol. An example given is eating a raw onion outside of the context of a salad.

Food For Thought
1) Some hold that Anochi Hashem is not one of the Aseret Hadibrot, rather an introduction. Most then break up the "second" commandment into two separate Mitzvot. What argument can be used to propose that this too is incorrect, according to the way it is written in the Chumash? What alternate possibilities exist, and what are their ramifications?

2) Why does the Chumash retell the reasons for Moshe's son's names? Weren't the reasons given to us in Parshat Shemot?

If you have a response to these questions, please contact us at
Responses may be published on agreement of the provider.

Staff at time of publication:
Editors-in-Chief: Josh Dubin, David Gertler, Shuky Gross
Managing Editors: Yair Manas, Uriel Schechter
Publishing Manager: Zev Feigenbaum
Publication Editor: Ilan Tokayer
Business Manager: Yehuda Goldin
Staff: Noam Block, Ami Friedman, Simcha Haber, Oren Levy, Ari Michael, Effie Richmond, Dani Shaffren, Sam Wiseman
Webmaster: Yisroel Ellman
Faculty Advisor: Rabbi Howard Jachter

Subscription information

Report an error

This publication contains Torah matter and should be treated accordingly.


Back to the home page