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תקע בשופר... ושא נס לקבץ ...וקבצנו יחד

Teka b’shofar…v’sa neis l’kabeitz… v’kabtzeinu yachad

Sound the shofar…and raise a banner to gather…and gather us together. This prayer includes three expressions that imply ingathering: sound the shofar for our freedom; raise a banner to gather in our exiles; gather us together from the four corners of the earth. Ten tribes were exiled prior to the tribes of Yehudah and Binyamin. We refer to them as the Ten Lost Tribes. These Ten Tribes were split in their exile, with some exiled somewhere in “the dark mountains,” and the rest going even further to a place that was “beyond the Sambatyon River.” The Gaon, zl, m’Vilna explains…

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כבד את אביך ואת אמך למען יאריכון ימיך

Honor your father and mother, so that your days will be lengthened.

The Aseres HaDibros, Ten Commandments, were inscribed on two tablets. Hence, the name: Luchos. The Ten Commandments are divided equally with: five devoted to mitzvos bein adam laMakom, between man and G-d; and five devoted to mitzvos bein adam lachaveiro, between man and his fellow man. Interestingly, the mitzvah of kibud av v’eim, honoring one’s father and mother, is listed on the tablet dedicated to bein adam laMakom. Chazal (Kiddushin 30b) teach that, when one properly honors his parents, it is considered as if he has honored Hashem. This is probably due to the fact that they “partner” with Hashem…

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זכור את יום השבת לקדשו ... לא תענה ברעך עד שקר

Remember the Shabbos day to sanctify it … You shall not bear false witness against your fellow.

The Midrash Rabbah (47:6) teaches that the Aseres HaDibros, Ten Commandments, were written side by side, five on each tablet. Thus, the injunction to observe Shabbos Kodesh stands opposite/next to the prohibition against false testimony. A Jew who observes Shabbos attests that the world was created by Hashem’s utterance. When one bears false testimony, he corrupts his speech, which leaves him unable to testify that Hashem created the world. (He created it, then He rested on the Seventh Day. Shabbos attests to this verity.) Truth is the force that keeps the world alive, while falsehood is destructive. One who prevaricates…

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וישמע יתרו...כי הוציא ד' את ישראל ממצרים

And Yisro heard…that Hashem had taken Yisrael out of Egypt. (18:1)

Originally, Moshe Rabbeinu had taken his entire family with him to Egypt. Aharon HaKohen urged him to send them back to Midyan. His contention was very practical: The Jews in Egypt were already suffering; why should Moshe add to their number? Now, after hearing about all of the miracles, Yisro realized that the time had come for the family to be reunited. Chazal (Midrash Rabbah, Shemos 4:4) relate Moshe’s response to his brother’s admonishment. He said, “Tomorrow (in the near future), they (Klal Yisrael) will leave Egypt and stand at the foot of Har Sinai, where they will hear Hashem…

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וישמע יתרו

Yisro heard. (18:1)

The name of a Parsha is not arbitrary. It has been chosen by design, for a reason, for a purpose, to teach a lesson. This brings us to the name of our parsha: Yisro. Unquestionably, Yisro was an extraordinary human being: father-in-law of both Moshe Rabbeinu and Elazar ben Aharon HaKohen Gadol and the grandfather of Pinchas, who is Eliyahu HaNavi, but do their relationships warrant that a parsha be named after him? It is not as if we have a parsha named for the Patriarchs, Yosef HaTzaddik or Aharon HaKohen. Veritably, our parsha is about Mattan Torah, the Giving…

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