CHAMISHOH MI YODEI'A - FIVE QUESTIONS ON THE WEEKLY SEDRAH - PARSHAS YISRO 5772 - BS"D
1) Ch. 18, v. 6: "Ani chosencho Yisro bo ei'lecho v'ish't'cho ushnei vo'nehoh imoh" - Should not the verse have listed all the people and then said "bo ei'lecho?"
2) Ch. 18, v. 10: "Boruch Hashem asher hitzil es'chem miyad Mitzrayim u'miyad Paroh asher hitzil es ho'om" - Who are "es'chem" and "ho'om," "mi'yad Mitzrayim" and "miyad Paroh?"
3) Ch. 18, v. 23: "Kol ho'om …… yovo v'SHOLO-M" - Why wouldn't there have been "yovo v'sholo-m" before taking Yisro's advice?
4) Ch. 18, v. 27: "Va'y'shalach Moshe es chose'no" - These words indicate that Moshe was the motivator for Yisro's departure. Based on the opinion that this took place before the giving of the Torah, why didn't he suggest to Yisro to stay on for this most momentous event?
5) Ch. 19, v. 11: "V'hoyu n'chonim la'yom hashlishi" - Is there a specific preparation that the bnei Yisroel were commanded to do beyond not cohabiting?
Yisro is conveying the massage, "My only reason for coming was to be with you, 'bo ei'lecho,' to convert to Judaism. Once I have come, I have incidentally brought along your wife and children." (Eitz Hadaas Tov - Rabbi Chaim Vi'tal)
"Miyad Mitzrayim" refers to the ministering angel above who represents Egypt. "U'miyad Paroh" refers to Paroh himself down on this earth. "Es ho'om" refers to the rescue of the "eirev rav," the mixed multitudes. Yisro thought that their adhering to the bnei Yisroel was genuinely spiritually inspired. (Eitz Hadaas Tov - Rabbi Chaim Vi'tal)
If only Moshe would judge and a litigant was displeased with the ruling he had no recourse. Once numerous judges were available, a person would bring his case to another competent judge who would also rule the same. Then the litigant would be satisfied that the ruling was just, and would go home in a PEACEFUL mood. (Rabbi Ovadioh Sforno)
Only after Moshe sent away his father-in-law does the story of the giving of the Torah begin. This is because the giving of the Torah is specifically intended for the bnei Yisroel who experienced enslavement in and redemption from Egypt, as is stated at the beginning of the Ten Commandments, "Onochi Hashem Elokecho asher hotzeisicho mei'eretz Mitzrayim mi'beis avodim" (20:2). Since I took you out of Egypt you are morally forced to accept my Torah, as I predicated taking you out on accepting the Torah. Had you remained in Egypt you would have been destroyed as a nation.
Yisro went through none of this and if he would accept the Torah along with the bnei Yisroel it would be wrong to force it upon him, as his acceptance would be based only upon his willingness to accept it. The Torah could not be given on two levels, by force to the bnei Yisroel, and by acceptance to Yisro. This is why it was necessary to send Yisro away before the giving of the Torah. (Droshos hoRan)
The well known custom of staying awake the night of Shovuos and reciting Tikun Leil Shovuos, or doing other learning is based upon the bnei Yisroel's being faulted for sleeping the night before receiving the Torah. We attempt to make up for this shortcoming by learning all night. The Kedushas Levi says that the intention of the bnei Yisroel was noble, as they wanted to be totally alert the next morning for the most important happening in the history of the world, the giving of the Torah, but they are faulted because their being able to sleep indicates a diminished level of anticipatory excitement for the great moment.
I believe that the words of the Kedushas Levi in essence can be found in the Ibn Ezra on our verse. He says that "v'hoyu n'chonim," the command to be prepared, means that a person should not sleep on the night before the morning on which he will hear the voice of Hashem, similar to the Kohein Godol who does not sleep on the night of Yom Kippur.
(Perhaps the voice on Yom Kippur refers to when the Name of Hashem emanates from the mouth of the Kohein Godol, as explained by the Ari z"l, that the Mishneh Yoma 6:2 does not say "when the Kohein Godol says the Name of Hashem," but rather "when it emanates," to indicate that the Kohein Godol only opened his mouth and Hashem spoke through it.
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