The Jewish Eye
Reb Elimelech MiLizhenzk - What Does The Geula Look Like?
The Pasuk says Yisro heard "Es Kol Asher Asah Elokim L'Moshe U'LiYisroel" what Hashem did for Moshe and Yisroel that he took them out of Mitzrayim. Why does it say Moshe separately and Yisroel separately. The Rebbe Reb Elimelech says that there are two different ways to look at Yetzias Mitzrayim. One is the fact that they were no longer enslaved by the Mitzrim and were free from their hard work. The other view is that we were rescued by Hashem who loves us and took us out of spiritual slavery to a situation where we can serve Hashem without any interference.
That is why it says Moshe and Bnei Yisroel separately. Bnei Yisroel enjoyed the physical freedom while Moshe saw the Afeila L'Or Gadol, the spiritual bleakness lit by a great light and closeness to Hashem. Yisro saw the two reactions and appreciated both. (Iturei Torah)
Do You Really Want What Your Friend Has?
"One shall not covet your fellow's wife, his manservant, his maidservant, his ox, his donkey nor all that belongs to your fellow man" (v'chol asher l'rei-echa). One may ask, after the Torah spells out that the prohibition of coveting applies to a neighbor's wife, and male servants and female servants, his oxen, his cows, his donkeys -- what is the summation "and all that belongs to your fellow-man" really adding?
The Meforshim explain, it is coming to teach us how to prevent jealousy towards a friend. One might look at a neighbor's wife and see how wonderful she is. One might look at his house and see how well he lives. One can look at his job and his children and think "This guy really has it made!"
The Torah is telling us to consider "kol asher l'rei-echa" -- look at the whole picture. Everyone has his or her own "Pekeleh" of problems in life. No one's life is perfect. As apparent as it may seem that this person has it 'made', we do not know the whole story. We can never know for certain. It is always necessary to take into account "kol asher l'rei-echa" [all that is doing with your neighbor].
Many times, when we learn about "all that is doing with our neighbor," we will not want to trade places.
Gerer Rebbe - Yisro's Good Advice Is His Legacy, Not His Criticism
Rashi tells us that Yisro had 7 names. One was ‘Yeser' - because he "added" a parsha to the Torah, by giving Moshe advice to take help when judging Klal Yisroel. Rashi says that the parsha he added was "ViAtah Sechezeh' - and you shall seek out from the people judges who are wealthy, G-d fearing, etc.
The Gerer Rebbe asks, isn't it odd that Rashi quotes a pasuk from the middle of the story? These are not the first words of the dialogue between Yisro and Moshe. Rashi should have quoted the earlier words of Yisro (pasuk 17) - "Lo Tov HaDavar Asher Atah Oseh" - ‘It is not correct what you are doing by judging alone." Why did Rashi quote verse 21?
The Rebbe answers, it's easy to be critical about what someone else is doing. "You are doing it wrong!" I can do it better!" If one wants to give constructive criticism, he should offer a better way. By just saying, "what you're doing is wrong!" is not sufficient. Show the other person a better way how to do it. This is why Rashi does not quote the opening words of Yisro, "Lo Tov HaDavar Asher Atah Oseh"; since that would just be a standard criticism. Rashi wants to stress that Yisro criticized and offered wholesome advice. That is why he was called "Yeser'. He added the parsha in the Torah of "ViAtah Sechezeh', which are the words of his advice to Moshe.
For Which Urgent Questions Do You Run To Your Rav?
The Baalai Mussar say, people are very quick to ask a rabbinic authority when it comes to issues Bain Adam LaMokom - between man and G-d. They will run to a Rav to find out if how to Kasher a kitchen, if their Esrog is good, which Matzos to use. However, when it comes to issues that are Bain Adam LaChavaro - between man and man, people tend to do what they think is right, without asking a Rav.
This is what the pasuk means when it says, "Ki Yavo Elay Lidrosh Elokim"- they come to ask me Shailos that are between them and G-d. But, "Ki Yihyeh Lahem Davar Ba Aylay ViShafatiti Bain Ish Uvein Rayahu" - when it comes to issues Bain Ish Uvein Rayahu - between them and another Jew, they don't ask how to act, beforehand. Rather, they do what they think is right and first come to me later on when - ViShafatiti Bain Ish Uvein Rayahu - I have to judge them as a Din Torah. If one would ask a Rav how to deal with certain monetary issues before he embarks on the endeavor, then there would be no need for Dinay Torah.
Maharsha - Women Taking Their Children To Yeshiva
Rav said to R' Chiya: Through what deeds do women merit eternal life? Through going to the trouble of bringing their children to the Bais Medrash to learn Torah. (Berachos 17a).
The Maharsha says that there is a Remez to this in this week's parsha. The pasuk says, "Ko Somar L'Bais Yaakov V'Sagaid L'Bnai Yisroel". Maharsha explains, "Ko Somar L'Bais Yaakov - So you shall say to the women (who are referred to as "Bais" Yaakov, because they are always found in their "homes" with their children), that they will merit eternal life through - "V'Sagaid L'Bnai Yisroel" - by telling the "Bnai" Yisroel, their children, to go to the Bais Medrash and learn Torah.
Rav Saadia Gaon - Take Good Care of Your Elderly Parents, Or Else!
The Torah tells us that the reward for Kibud Av V'Eim is long life. Rav Saadia Gaon explains that sometimes when parents get old and the responsibility of taking care of them both financially and physically falls on the children, the parent can become very unwanted. Therefore the Torah tells us if want to live a long life you should hope your parents hang around for a long time giving you ample opportunity to be MiKayem this great life extending mitzva. Without it your own life will not be as long.
The Mizbei'ach as a Symbol of Modesty
There are two prohibitions that the Torah gives regarding the structure of the Mizbei'ach. Firstly you cannot raise a sword or knife to it, even to carve its shape. Second you cannot go up to it with steps. It must be with a ramp. The Kli Yakar says these two issurim are because the Mizbei'ach must be the model of Anava, humility.
The sword is symbol of pride. It gives a person a sense of power and dominion over other people. The pasuk in Zos HaBracha says "VaAsher Cherev Ga'avasecha"; the sword is your Ga'ava you pride. Therefore the mizbei'ach cannot come in contact with a sword even to carve it.
Going up steps is very important. Our whole life is about climbing from Madreiga to Madreiga. However with every new step climbed, there is a well defined sense of accomplishment. Precisely at the time when you have met a challenge and have elevated yourself you are most vulnerable to the Yetzer Hara of pride. Therefore says the Torah when you climb to the Mizbei'ach, elevating yourself each step of the way, go up on a ramp. This way you gradually and quietly continue to rise with each step without attracting attention and passing visible milestones. No one will notice that you are going up and you will soon you will arrive at the top still humble as ever.
How Can We Achieve Real Achdus?
When the Bnei Yisroel came to Har Sinai, the pasuk says in the singular form that "he" (referring to all of Bnei Yisroel) camped out at the mountain. Rashi comments that they were like one person with one heart; total achdus. We know that at Matan Torah each person stood at a proximity to Har Sinai befitting his stature. If so the question begs, how in the world was there no jealousy and fighting between people who thought they should be closer than their neighbor?
One explanation can be that achdus does not mean that everybody noticed each other's status yet didn't complain. Achdus meant that they all had the same ideal and were all doing the same thing. In this case that entailed standing at the mountain and concentrating only on Hashem and not on their neighbor. If all of us focus only on our own relationship with Hashem we would have true achdus.
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