This Week’s Torah Portion: Yitro – יִתְרוֹ Exodus 18:1–20:23)
It was time for Israel to receive the Torah. Moses gathered all the people around the foot of Mount Sinai, so that all would hear the 10 Commandments directly from God.
God began to speak the first letter of the first word, of the first commandment, “I am Adonai your God.” This first letter is the Hebrew letter alef, which is a silent letter. And yet, the sound of God’s voice speaking even this silent letter, was so loud and so awesome that it terrified all the people who ran away and hid in their tents.
Moses chased after them saying, “Wait, Wait! You have to hear God’s words yourselves.” But they said, “No. God’s voice is too awesome.” Finally, it was agreed that the 70 Elders would stand as witness at the foot of the mountain. But, as the Elders were returning to the camp to tell the people of God’s words, the strangest thing happened.
As they shared together each word they had heard, they realized that for each of the 10 Words which God had spoken, each of the Elders had heard a different word. And though none of their words were exactly the same, they were all different perspectives on God’s exact meaning. It was only they all spoke all the words they had heard, that they fully understood all that God had intended to say.
And this is the lesson we have learned. Each of us hears the words of Torah with our own unique perspective. And if we really hope to understand all of what God intends for us to be and do in this world, we must listen to each other so we might together build a world of justice, love, and peace.
Parsha Yitro Torah Summary: Yitro brings his daughter Zipporah and her two sons, Gershom and Eliezer, to his son-in-law Moses. (18:1-12)
Moses follows Yitro’s advice and appoints judges to help him lead the people. (18:13-27)
The Children of Israel camp in front of Mount Sinai. Upon hearing the covenant, the Israelites respond, “All that God has spoken we will do.” (19:1-8)
After three days of preparation, the Israelites encounter God at Mount Sinai. (19:9-25)
God gives the Ten Commandments aloud directly to the people. (20:1-14)
Frightened, the Children of Israel ask Moses to serve as an intermediary between God and them. Moses tells the people not to be afraid. (20:15-18)