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“And wherever I permit my Name to be mentioned I shall come to you and bless you.” (20:21)

It is significant that this pasuk follows immediately after the Har Sinai experience. No code of law, regardless of man’s acquiescence, will be binding – unless he views that law as the direct result of the spiritual foundation of life. Horav Moshe Swift, zl, cites the Talmud Succah 53a which quotes Hillel’s interpretation of this pasuk. “If you will come into My House, I will come into yours.” Hashem tells Bnei Yisrael that My relationship with you is not merely a reward. It is the product of a natural sequence of events. If you will come to Me – I…

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“For in order to elevate you Hashem has come.” (20:17).

The word “nasos” is translated by Rashi as “to elevate.” The fact that Hashem Himself has revealed Himself to you will elevate your position in the eyes of the nations. The Rambam and Ramban translate the word “nasos” as “to test.” Hashem has come to test Bnei Yisrael. They differ, however, in regard to the time of this trial. According to the Ramban, the emphasis is upon the present. Hashem is telling Bnei Yisrael, “At Har Sinai, you were thoroughly prepared to meet Hashem. You had no doubt concerning His sovereignty. Now we will see if you will pass the…

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“I am Hashem your G-d Who has taken you out of the land of Egypt.” (20:2)

The Kuzari explains why Hashem identifies Himself as the one Who took us out of Egypt, rather than as the Creator of the universe. The Exodus was a phenomenon that was clear for all to see. Hundred of thousands of Jews witnessed this unprecedented break with the course of natural events. While everyone was aware that there had been a creation, no man had been present. It, therefore, makes sense to refer to an event that would have greater credibility in the eyes of man. Horav Yaakov Neiman, zl, offers an interesting response to this famous question. He claims that…

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“And the father-in-law of Moshe said to him, ‘The thing that you do is not good. You will surely become worn out – you as well as this people that is with you… Now listen to my voice. I will advise you and may Hashem be with you.'” (18:17,18)

Yisro, Moshe’s father-in-law, gave him advice which was included in the Torah, setting the standard for the entire judicial system in Klal Yisrael. Was this advice so unique that Moshe could not have thought of it? Why did Moshe not suggest appointing officers for individual groups? What happened to the zekeinim, elders, who probably had served as magistrates in Egypt? Horav Avigdor Miller, Shlita, establishes two reasons for Moshe’s initial reluctance to employing the old system – in which appointed magistrates rendered decisions instead of Moshe himself. First, the original code of laws had been based primarily upon human logic,…

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“And Yisro rejoiced over all the good which Hashem had done for Yisrael.” (18:9)

Rashi cites the Talmud Sanhedrin 94a which suggests that the word sjhu alludes to the word ohsusj, prickles. The reference to prickles could have one of two connotations. They might be prickles of joy, indicating that Yisro was overwhelmed with happiness. Alternatively, they could be prickles of distress. Although Yisro was filled with happiness for the Jews, he still felt uneasy over what had happened to the Egyptians. Chazal go on to say that one should neither humiliate a gentile, nor speak disparagingly in the presence of a ger, convert, even up to ten generations after his conversion. Horav Yecheskel…

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