When you Choose Shabbat, you choose to learn that every Shabbat is different and special. This week I learned that Parashat Yitro (יִתְרוֹ) is the 17th weekly Torah portion in the annual cycle of Torah readings. This Shabbat is double special because its the Shabbat prior to Rosh Chodesh, also is known as “Shabbat Mevarchim”, the Shabbat when we bless. On this day during the synagogue service, we recite a special blessing for the new month and announce the timing of Rosh Chodesh.
According to Wikipedia, Yitro (Exodus 18:1–20:23) contains 4,022 Hebrew letters, 1,105 words and 75 verses, making Yitro the shortest weekly Torah portion in the Book of Exodus. Yitro (יִתְרוֹ) tells of Jethro’s organizational counsel to Moses and God’s revelation of the Ten Commandments to the Israelites at Mount Sinai.
Rabbi Michael D Klein of Temple Torat Emet offers his insights on this week’s Torah reading, Yitro (יִתְרוֹ) for Shabbat February 2, 2024 aka 24 Shevat 5784:
“This week marks the 2nd Sedra in the Torah that is named for a non-Jewish person. Jethro, was the High Priest of the Midianites, and one of the principal advisors to Pharaoh of Egypt who later became Moses’ father in law. Of all Pharaoh’s advisors he is considered the most righteous because he advised Pharaoh to allow the Jewish people to become free. He alone, acknowledges G-d’s supreme might, and later he advises Moses to delegate authority to righteous judges and elders in administering justice between people involved in legal disputes.
Also, in this Sedra, we read the 10 Commandments and bless the incoming month of Adar Rishon. Just as February on the Gregorian calendar has an extra day every 4 years to accommodate the extra 6 hours of the earth’s revolution around the sun which we call a leap year, so too, does the Jewish Lunar calendar have an entire extra month 7 out of every 19 years to bring the Jewish calendar into synch with the Gregorian calendar.
The purpose of Adar 1 on our Jewish calendar has a much deeper meaning. It allows for additional days of repentance and prayer before Purim and Passover and thus is mentioned in the Musaf Amidah for Rosh Chodesh as Chapparat Pesha! This is to acknowledge the atonement for the sin of the golden calf which occurred concurrently to the giving of the Torah and 10 Commandments to Moses and the Israelites.
Hopefully, we all take advantage of this “extra time” to review our attitude toward G-d and the Holy Torah so that we may live a better and more fulfilling life use our extra time to become closer to G-d , our family, and our community in order to receive G-d’s blessings.
Questions to Consider:
- Who were Pharaoh’s other advisors and what was their advice and ultimate fate?
- We are told that at Mt. Sinai, the people “saw” the rumblings of sound around the mountain and the whole world also heard the incredible sound. How is this possible?
- What crime is specifically referred to as “theft” in the 10 Commandments? What is the specific punishment?
- Are the text of the Ten Commandments exactly identical in Exodus and Deuteronomy? Why or why not?”
Rabbi Michael D. Klein attended Yeshiva College of South Florida and served as Torah Reader, Hebrew teacher, Chazzan and spiritual leader of various synagogues throughout South Florida. In January 2015 he became Ritual Director, Bnai/Bnot Mitzvah instructor and 7th grade Hebrew instructor for Temple Torat Emet of Boynton Beach. In October 2019 he was accepted into an accelerated track and received his shicha from Yeshiva Adath Wolkowisk and has been the Rabbinic leadership of Temple Torat Emet since August 2020. In September of 2022 he was appointed Rabbinic and Spiritual Advisor of the Florida Region of FJMC.
Choose Shabbat; choose to celebrate, to light candles, sing songs and learn a little Torah.
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