There are four people in the Torah who had a letter added to their names. Avraham, Sarah, Yisro and Yehoshua. Yehoshua had the letter "Yud" added. Avraham the letter "Hey" Yisro the letter "Vav" and Sarah the letter "Hey". All of these extra letters comprise the name of Hashem "Yud Hey Vav Hey." The understanding is that all of these people brought souls closer to Hashem. Avraham and Sarah began the Kiruv movement. Yisro was the first person to convert after the giving of the Torah. Yehoshua converted people as well. Hashem repaid these acts by giving a part of His name to each of them.
(18:1) “Vayishma Yisro- And Yisro heard.” What was it that Yisro heard? Rashi says that he heard about Yetzias Mitzraim and the war with Amalek. Why was it that these two events caused Yisro to wish to join Benei Yisroel? What about all of the miracles performed in Mitzraim? The Gur Aryeh says that the reason these two events caused Yisro to have a change of heart was because these two event occurred throughout the entire world. The splitting of the red sea did not only occur there but all the waters of the world split. Regarding the battle with Amalek, Amalek calculated when the most successful time to overcome Benei Yisroel was. Moshe caused the sun to stop and affected all the constellations. When Yisro heard this he understood that Hashem is the true power in the universe. Had it just been the macos in Mitzraim people might have said Hashem was punishing the Mitzri'im for their bad ways. But through these two events it was known that Hashem rules the world. In addition it had to be these two events one would not have been enough, because through them it became apparent that Hashem rules in both the heaven and the earth. The Krias Yam Suf showed that Hashem rules over the physical world. The war with Amalek showed that Hashem also rules over the heavens. Another reason why it had to be these two events that caused Yisro to convert is that Yisro knew that no nation can survive on miracles alone. Had it just been the macos in Mitzraim or even Krias Yam suf he would not have come. But after seeing the war with Amalek, where they had to take up arms to defend themselves, he knew that they would be able to survive in the world in natural ways (tevah) as well.
Another reason given for the need of having two things that Yisro heard is that after seeing the tremendous miracles of the splitting of the sea, anyone would be willing to convert. The fact that Amalek was able to attack and cool off the waters so to speak, brought Benei Yisroel back to some semblance of reality. They brought doubt back into the equation. Even though they got burnt, the other nations of the world now feared a bit less. This doubt was what enabled Yisro to become a convert.
(18:1) “Vayishma Yisro- And Yisro heard.” What was it that Yisro heard? Rashi says that he heard about Yetzias Mitzraim and the war with Amalek. Why was it necessary to have two events? Would one not have been enough? What Yisro observed was how Klal Yisroel behaved. When Egypt chased them to the Red Sea there were only 600 chariots against more than 600,000 armed Israelis. They were grossly outnumbered and yet Klal Yisroel did not attempt to fight. The reason was Hakoras Hatov. The Jews were indebted to Egypt for being hosted by them for all those years. But Yisro could not tell if it was from an inability to fight or real gratitude that they were displaying. This is what the war with Amalek clarified. Had he only seen the splitting of the Red Sea he would not have known if their lack of resistance was due to an inability or real Hakoras Hatov. But once he saw the war against Amalek he knew the truth.
(18:1) “Vayishma Yisro- Yisro heard.” Why was it that only Yisro heard? The whole world was aware of the tremendous events taking place? The whole world heard but only Yisro acted upon what he heard. Only he felt motivated enough to change his entire life and follow his convictions.
How was Yisro able to convert? The Benei Yisroel were not accepting converts because of all that happened everyone knew about Hashem and what he did for the Jews. Not only was Yisro accepted, he had a Parsha named after him and his advice accepted? The Midrash says that when Yisro heard about the Yam Suf he had to be with them. The fact that Hashem used measure for measure to avenge the Egyptians showed him that there is nothing that happens just by chance. The fact that they were drowned just as they drowned the male Jewish babies, showed Yisro the greatness of Hashem. What about the war with Amalek? How did this show that Hashem repays measure for measure to avenge those who oppose him? Amalek calculated when the most successful time to overcome Benei Yisroel was. Moshe caused the sun to stop and that affected all the constellations. It therefore comes out that the very method Amalek used to attack Yisroel is what was used to overcome them. When Yisro got to the midbar he shot an arrow into the protective cloud that surrounded their camp. Since no other arrow was able to penetrate the cloud they knew it was a sign that Hashem wanted Yisro to join them.
(18:12) “Vayikach Yisro-Oleh U’zevachim L’Elokim-Yisro brought sacrifices to Elokim.”
This is the only place in the Torah where we find the name "Elokim" associated with Korbonos. Yisro was not yet familiar with the dimension of Hashem Yud Hey Vav Hey. As we see by Yisro's own words when he said "Now I know that Elokim is greater than all the other Gods" because he saw how he punished the Egyptians Midah Keneged Midah. It was through the dimension of Elokim which is strict judgement.
The posuk continues that Aaron and the elders came to share the meal with him. This seems very puzzling? The normal way is for the host to invite the guest to a meal yet here the guest is inviting the host? We learn from here that a bris requires a meal with it. Yisro was joining the rest of Israel by converting. He therefore performed a Bris and this is why he invited Aaron and the elders. But if you look closely at the posuk you will see it says they were invited to eat bread with them not eat from the sacrifice. Why not? Because we sacrifice to Hashem and Yisro made his sacrifice to Elokim. Aaron was therefore unable to eat with him. Instead they ate bread. Where did the bread come from they were only eating Munn at this time? It must be that a special portion came down for this new convert and from this they made their meal. This was the only time Munn fell at mid-day, when all other Munn was melting. They knew it was sign for Yisro's acceptance.
The Arizal writes that Yisro was a reincarnation of Hevel. In Bereishis when Kayin and Hevel are arguing it doesn't say what they were arguing about. We learn from the posuk that because of the extra word “es” that there was born along with Kayin a twin sister and that's who they married. Regarding Hevel the word “es” is used twice, alluding to two sisters. This is what the argument was over. It seems that Kayin was jealous of Hevel having two wives and he killed him over it. In doing so he said “There is no judge and there is no judgment.” When Hashem punished him he put a sign on his head so people would know who he was and not kill him. The sign was the letter “vav” which represents 13 when you spell out the letter. Vav aleph vav equals 13 which also equal Echod/one. Yisro was originally called Yeser. The letter “Vav” was added to his name. This served as a completion of his soul's correction. For it was Yisro who pointed out the justice in Hashem's handling of Egypt. (18:11) “Atoh Yodaty Ki Gadol Hashem Mikol- H'Elokim- Now I know that Hashem is greater than all of the other G-d's.”
Another reason for the letter “Vav” added to Yisro’s name is the following. At the end of parsha’s Beshalach we learn that the name of Hashem is not complete until Amalek is completely destroyed. “Ki Yad al Kes Koh.” The name of Hashem is spelled “Yud Hey” missing the final “vav hey”. This name of Hashem “Yud- Hey- Vav- Hey” represents His manifestation as past, present and future. With these two letters we are able to form the words Hayah and Yihiyeh was and will be, but not Hoveh which is the present tense. Amalek wants to destroy that which we have, the present. The past is gone the future is not here yet. All we have is the present. They claim that Hashem was in the past. But he no longer focuses his attention towards us. What will be in the future no one really knows. But in the present He is not active. This is what Yisro came to proclaim. He said (18:11)“Atoh Yodaty Ki Gadol Hashem Mikol-H’Elokim- Now I know that Hashem is greater than all other G-d’s.” Now being the operative word. The “vav”added to Yisro’s name represents this connection of the past and future, of Hashem operating in the now.
Yisro was a Gilgul (reincarnation) of Kayin's neshama. He was to fix the chet of Kayin. Rashi in the very first posuk lists the seven names that Yisro had. Re'uel, Yeser, Yisro, Chovav, Chever, Kainey, Puti'el. The very name Kainey is a derivative of Kayin. Each name represented a different level that Yisro attained in his life. Kayin on the other hand had seven bad Midos. Each of Yisro's levels corrected a corresponding fault of Kayin. One name was Reu'el meaning recognizing Hashem. Kayin said there is no judge and no judgment, Yisro said I see now that Hashem is Echod that there is measure for measure in the way Hashem avenges. That’s why there was a vav added to Yisro's name the same letter that was put upon Kayin. The name Yeser which means to add to the world was the opposite of what Kayin did by subtracting from the world. Chovav meaning one who loves, as opposed to Kayin who hated his brother. Yisro even had the name Kainey of the root Kayin. In the Midrash it says that Moshe was a gilgul of Hevel. Why was it that Hevel deserved to die? Because the Torah says when he offered his Korbon to Hashem a heavenly fire came down and consumed it. The reason he deserved to die was because he stared at the Shechina. When Moshe saw Hashem by the burning bush he turned his head away so as not to see. This was the Tikun for Hevel.
When Yisro first arrived at the camp of Yisroel he said (18:6) “ Ani Chosnecha Yisro- I am your father in-law Yisro.” This is an acronym for the word Achi-Brother. Yisro was the reincarnation of Kayin the brother of Hevel in the previous life. The seforim also say that Tziporah was a gilgul of Hevel's twin sister. So it comes out that Yisro gave his daughter, whom they fought over in another life, to the one whom he killed in another life.
(18:18) "Soneh Betzah-Select people who hate gain" Moshe was advised to select people who are removed from physicality. Such people are more open to receiving Ruach Hakodesh which is needed to be able to judge truthfully.
The name Moshe is an acronym for the names of those to whom Moshe's soul rolled over into. They were Shlomo Hamelech and Hillel. Mem is Moshe Shin is Shlomo and Hey is for Hillel.
When a person is born under the mazel of a violent astrological sign he should channel his tendencies to mitzvos. Like Dovid Hamelech did to channel himself for war of a mitzvah. Or if a person is born under such a sign he should be a mohel or a shochet. That’s what it says about Yisro, the first thing he did when he came to the camp was perform Milah on himself. This too represents 13 because in the parsha of Milah the word Bris appears 13 times. Also the reason why the advice Yisro gave to Moshe was accepted was because it was regarding Mishpat, the very thing that was Kayin's chet when he said there is no judge and there is no judgment.
When Hashem was about to give the Torah it was first offered it to all the other nations. First he offered it to Essav who asked what's in the Torah? Hashem said “Thou shall not kill!” Essav said “that's not for me.” Hashem then offered it to Ishmael who asked what's in the Torah? Hashem said “Thou shall not steal!” Ishmael said that's not for me. But when Hashem offered it to Benei Yisroel they said “Naseh Venishma” we will do and we will hear. The question that the commentaries ask is that this is really not fair. By telling the nations the one thing in the Torah that is totally opposed to their nature of course they would not accept the Torah. Perhaps if Hashem had told them about Shabbos first or even Tifillin maybe they would have come around? Why tell them the one thing that is opposed to their nature? The answer is that this is what the Torah is all about. To accept the Torah a person must recreate himself. He must be willing to go against his natural instincts. Before eating he must first make the proper brochos he must wash his hands first. He cannot just grab food, as would be his natural tendency, when he is hungry. This is the essence of Kiddusha, to rise above the physical nature of man and to control every aspect of existence. Tumah is the opposite of this. When a person has no control of his physical functions this brings about tumah. This is why we must wash our hand after going to the bathroom. In some small way we become tumah from not being able to control the physical. When a woman gives birth her body takes over and she has little control. This is why she becomes tumah after giving birth. The most extreme form of tumah is death when the mind has lost all control over the physical. Kiddusha on the other hand is having control over all aspects of the physical. That could be why Hashem gave Benei Yisroel the Munn in the Midbar. When eaten it produced no waste. Through this they were able to attain a higher level of Kiddusha.
One question remains. What about the test of Klal Yisroel ? Although they did say Naseh V’Nishma was there not a test for them to overcome as well? Their test came when they were commanded to not cross the boundary set up around Har Sinai. Twice they were commanded not to attempt to breach the perimeter of the mountain. This was a tremendous test for them. To resist the temptation to come close to Hashem.
(18:23) “V’Gam Kol H’am Hazeh Al-M’KomoYovo B’Sholaim-And this people as well shall arrive at its destination in peace.” The destination referred to here is the final destination, the next world! If we set up judges and have no outstanding debts, we may then arrive at our final destination in peace. If however we leave this world with unpaid debt, we will be forced to return. But if we set up correct judges, we will come to our destination in peace.
(19:3) "U'Moshe Alah el H'Elokim Vayikra Aylav Hashem-Moshe ascended to G-D and Hashem called to him" Should these words not be reversed? First there is a calling and then there should be an ascent? The Ramban explains that Moshe went partially up to Hashem and then was called by Hashem. The Meam Loez writes that Moshe going up means that he reached the highest level that a human can attain. Hashem calls to him refers to the adage "Habo L'Taheir M'Sayeen Oso- If a person wishes to go in the pure direction he is assisted from heaven." Moshe went up, made the first move, and Hashem called him and gave him the needed assistance.
(19:4) “V’Asah Eschem Al Kanfei Nesharim-How I bore you on Eagles wings” The Torah describes how Hashem took Benei Yisroel out of Egypt as if on the wings of eagles. In reality it was with “the clouds of glory.” The Torah is not just being poetic. What is to be learned from this metaphor? We know that eagles fly higher than any other bird. They carry their fledglings upon their backs to protect them from below. They fear nothing from above. They only fear arrows shot from below. However their talons are too short to enable them to place their fledglings upon their backs. They therefore hover near the nest allowing their young to take a leap of faith onto the back of the adult eagle. This is the metaphor for Klal Yisroel. In order to merit the protection of the clouds of glory, they needed to exhibit a leap of faith in Hashem.
(19:10) “Vayomer Hashem el-Moshe Laich el-Ha'am Ve'Kidashtom Hayom U’mochor Ve'Kibsu Simlosom- Hashem said to Moshe “Go to the people and sanctify them today and tomorrow and they shall wash their clothing” It would seem rather strange for the Torah to mention the washing of their clothing at this time. And then it is repeated in posuk 14 where it says that Moshe did sanctify the people and wash their clothes. At the time when Benei Yisroel was standing at the foot of Har Sinai they had once again attained the level of Adam before the chet, a time when the physical body was the clothing for the Neshamah, before man knew shame. Here too the body was the clothing for the soul so when the washing of clothes is mentioned it is referring to immersion in a Mikveh. The numerical value of the words “Kibsu S’molos” is 858 the same as the phrase “B’tzelem Elokim Boro Oso-In the image of Hashem he created him.”(Nireh Li)
(19:10)“Vayomer Hashem el-Moshe Laich el-Ha'am Ve'Kidashtom Hayom U’mochor- Hashem said to Moshe “Go to the people and sanctify them today and tomorrow” Hashem had originally planned for the revelation to take place after they prepared themselves for two days. Moshe added a third day. This meant that the Torah was to be given one day earlier and it was delayed by a day. How could the day that the entire universe was depending on, be left for Moshe to decide? Moshe understood that the revelation should take place on Shabbos. Just as Shabbos completed the creation, Kabolas Hatorah completes creation. Shabbos is the time reserved for the intimate Union between man and his wife, so too it is the day for the meeting between man and his creator.
(19:12) “V’higbalta es H’am-You shall set boundaries for the people.” Hashem commands Moshe to set boundaries so that the people don’t charge the mountain in their desire to see Hashem. Moshe descends and informs the people of Hashem’s command. Then out of respect he returns to Hashem and informs Him that he has done what Hashem requested. Hashem tells Moshe once again to go down and make sure that the people understand not to draw near to the mountain lest many people will die. Moshe says back in posuk 22 that the people cannot do that for you have warned them not to. Hashem replies (19:24)“Lech Rade-Go down and tell them again. What is going on here? Moshe could not comprehend that a person would disobey Hashem. He was therefore told “Go Down from your exalted level and warn the people.”
The posuk says that at Sinai there was Kol Gadol V’lo Yosuf-A great sound that did not
cease. This sound continues to this very day. If we could train ourselves to tune in to the
frequency, we would be hearing the sounds from Sinai today. This is the explanation of the
reason we say Shemah twice a day and at the time of death or when a child is having a bris. We could say instead of Hear oh Israel, understand oh Israel or the word know. But the reason we use the word hear is to allude to this hearing of the sounds of Sinai. The sound of the first two commandments came directly from Hashem. They continue on. The rest were said through Moshe. So when we recite the Shema we are really saying “Hear the sounds of those first two commandments that never stopped resounding.”
The Midrash relates that when Klal Yisroel stood at Har Sinai to receive the Torah, Hashem held the mountain over them like a barrel and said “If you accept the Torah fine if not this will be your grave.” Hashem said that the world would not continue and that he would revert the world back to its undeveloped state as it was before creation. How do we understand this Midrash? Why should the world cease to exist just because Klal Yisroel rejects Torah?
To answer this we need to look at another Midrash which states that when Moshe Rabeinu went up to receive the Torah the Malachim argued with him. They said that who is man that he should have this wondrous gift of Torah? It should remain in heaven. Moshe Rabeinu answered “Do you have parents that you need to honor? Do angels put on Tefilin?” To which they consented that the Torah does belong in their world. What does this Midrash mean? What great insight did Moshe Rabeinu convey to them? Did they not know what was written in the Torah? What we have to understand is that the Malachim had the Torah but on a much higher level. They have all of the letters, which according to some, is but one of the divine names of Hashem. They perceive the Torah from the letters in all of its variations. For the first time, Moshe Rabeinu showed them that there are such things as words which can be constructed from those letters. In order to make the Mitzvos understandable to man, Hashem had to translate them into corporeal form. Hashem looked into the Torah and created the world. What this means is that Hashem took those letters and then created Heaven and Earth because there were those letters in the Torah. He created a world for man to elevate to the level of Malachim. Succah, Tefillin and Tzitzis are actually a mundane expression of a more complicated spiritual ideal. Now we can understand why Hashem would have reverted the world back to its previous state had we not accepted the Torah, because without our acceptance there is no need for the physical manifestation of the spiritual world?
(19:13) "B'Mishoch Hayovel-Upon the extended blast of the Shofar" The Shofar of Sinai was the left horn of the ram offered by Avraham at the Akeidah, after he removed Yitzchak from the altar. The right horn will be used to herald the coming of Moshiach. The question is however, the ram offered to replace Yitzchak was an Oleh, a sacrifice that is totally consumed. If so how can its horns be used at a later date? Rabeinu Bechaya answers that Hahsem resurrected it in total. From here we learn that anything totally given over to Hashem will never be lost.
(19:16) “Vayehi Kolos U’Vrakim-And there was thunder and lightning.” Normally we find that lightening comes before the thunder. Why does the Torah here reverse the order? Perhaps we can say that since we know that later on its written (20:15) “V’chol Ha’am Royim es Hakolos-The entire nation saw the sounds.” If they were able to see the sounds it means that the sounds were traveling at the speed of light. A revelation of this magnitude could not be limited to physical restraints. The visual and audible sensations occurred simultaneously in an out of body type of experience. If this is true than there is no problem mentioning the thunder before the lightning.
The Aseres Hadibros begin with the words “Anochi Hashem.” The second commandment is “Lo Yihyeh Lecha Elokim Achairim.” a command not to have other G-d’s. Really this should have been expressed first because we have learned that we must first separate from evil before we can do good. (Sur M’rah V’aseh Tov) We learn from this a tremendous Chesed that Hashem performed for Klal Yisroel. When Klal Yisroel left Mitzraim they were on the lowest level. For them to be able to accept the Torah, to bond with Hashem needed a tremendous transformation. This could not have happened overnight. But Hashem granted them this level even before they reached it on their own. This is reflected in the fact that Anochi came before Lo Yihiyeh. What it means is that even though they might not yet have given up Idolatry entirely, Anochi Hashem, I am still your G-d. Even if a person has sins he can still come close to Hashem.
(19:22) " V'gam es Hakohanim-And also the priests." Although there were not yet any Kohanim, the first born were acting as priests. This explains how later in n the Torah we find a seemingly redundant phrase repeatedly when it says "The Kohanim the sons of Aharon." while we know at that point that the only Kohanim were those who descended from Aharon, we see from here that it is meant to exclude the first born who previously were the priests
(20:2) “Anochi Hashem Elokeicha Asher Hotzeisicha M’Eretz Mitzrayim-I am Hashem your G-d who took you out of the land of Egypt.”This is the first of the Ten Commandments why didn’t Hashem begin with “I am Hashem Who created the heaven and earth” ? Wouldn’t that have been more impressive? We are speaking to the nation that actually just experienced that exodus? They witnessed the splitting of the Red Sea. Of course they know Hashem took them out! But this is the incredible one time revelation that never occurred in the entire history of the world. G-d speaks! Not just to one prophet but to an entire nation! Not through an intermediary, but directly to millions of people! Certainly this is no simple obvious statement. What tremendous message is hidden in these words? The Chidushe HaRim is bothered by this and he quotes from the Arizal.
The world was created with “Ten dictums.” Those ten dictums are the laws of nature. The miraculous laws of nature that with amazing exactness and precision, govern the physical world. But they became hidden beneath the veil of Egyptian sorcery and black magic. It thus became necessary to peel away that veil with the use of the “Ten Macos”. That being behind us we stood at “HarSinai”poised to receive the “Ten Commandments” the first message contained therein is “Anochi Hashem Elokeicha Asher Hotzeisicha M’Eretz Mitzrayim-I am Hashem your G-d who took you out of the land of Egypt.”You can now have a relationship with the Almighty. How is that possible? Because “I have taken you out of nature.” By designating us as His people Hashem is saying that you are no longer confined to the limits placed on ordinary human beings. Hashem has taken you out of Mitzrayim, out of the Meitzar/constraints of the physical world. You now possess unlimited possibilities as long as you remain attached to Hashem.
We find a similar example when Moshe was about to receive the Torah. The angels complained that the Torah should not be given to man. Hashem told Moshe to respond to the angels. But how could a mortal man prevail against divine beings? Therefore Moshe grasped on to the throne of Hashem before responding.
(20:11) "Vayikadshehu- He sanctified it" Shabbos was sanctified through the Munn. This teaches a fundamental point about the creation of the world. Just as no work needed to be done on Shabbos, so too one who refrains from work and honors the Shabbos, he will not need to work for he is sustained by Shabbos. Klal Yisroel keep the Shabbos but Shabbos keeps Klal Yisroel.
Why do we call the week days Chol ? Two thirds of the earth is made up of water. The crashing waves are held back from inundating the earth by the sand (Chol) at the shore. The same is true with regard to the Shabbos. The Kiddusha of Shabbos is so great that had we not had Chol the holiness of Shabbos would overtake the entire world (Spinka Rav)
(20:15) “V’chol Ha’am Royim es Hakolos-The entire nation saw the sounds.” Why was this necessary? Rashi explains that when the first word of the Dibros was spoken, all of the Torah was heard in that one instant. What no mouth can speak was spoken and what no ear can hear was heard. But if they could not hear or comprehend, what was the purpose?
The Ten Commandments were directly correlated to the Ten Mamorous (Statements) which Hashem used to create the world. When Hashem spoke, the physical world came into being. But this revelation of Hashem was disguised in the physical world. It was meant to be revealed by man but instead became more and more concealed until Avraham came along and was able see Hashem in all of the creation. He was able to look at the world and see the Torah in it. But man further covered over the true essence of creation until it reached the apex which was Mitzraim. At that point the world appeared to be controlled by the sorcery that prevailed there. They had so hidden Kidusha in the world that Hashem had to bring about the Ten Plagues, as the Gr’a explains, in reverse order of the Ten Mamoros that created the world, to peel away the layers of Tumeh, like an onion, that was masking that Kidusha.
Once this was done it became necessary for Hashem to re-create the world so to speak. After peeling away the layers of tumeh and returning to the raw essence of the Briya, it was time to reveal the purpose of this creation. This was Matan Torah. When Hashem spoke they were able to see the sounds of that speech just as by the Ten Mamorous words resulted in physical reality, so too here, the words were visible but to an even greater degree. This is what is meant by Rashi that all of the Torah was heard in that one instant. The revelation was such that in one instant the harmony and oneness of the cosmos was perceived.
(20:12) “Kabeid es Avicha V’es Imecha L’maan Yarichun Yomecha-Honor you mother and your father so that your days will be .” We don’t find a reason given for any of the other Ten commandments. What is the measure for measure in extending a person’s life? R.Chaim Sonnenfeld explains the reward for honoring parents as follows. There is a dilemma that many children face when parents begin to age. A child needs to give Kovod to parents both when young and old. But as the parents age the roles are often times reversed. The child becomes the parent and the parent becomes childlike. That is the parents begin to need assistance, whether in getting dressed or going to doctors, eating, shopping. So a child might think that this burden will be at the expense of their own life. That their time will be lost giving to the parent. The Torah is teaching us that all of the time spent caring for a parent will not be lost. The Gematria of Kabeid es Avicha V’es Imecha-Honor thy father and thy mother is equal to L’maan Tarichu Yomim-In order to increase your days.(928)