Parasha Yitro (Jethro)
· Moses’ father-in-law, Yitro (Jethro) hears of the great miracles which God performed for the people of Israel, and comes from Midian to the Israelite camp, bringing with him Moses’ wife, Tziporah, and two sons. Yiteo advises Moses to appoint a hierarchy of magistrates and judges to assist him in the task of governing and administering justice to the people, as all the work is far too hard for one person to do.
· The children of Israel camp opposite Mount Sinai, where they are told that God has chosen them to be God’s “kingdom of priests” and “holy nation.” The people respond by proclaiming, “All that God has spoken, we shall do.”
· On the sixth day of the third month (Sivan), seven weeks after the Exodus, the entire nation of Israel assembles at the foot of Mount Sinai. God descends on the mountain amidst thunder, lightning, billows of smoke and the blast of the shofar, and summons Moses to ascend.
· God proclaims the Ten Commandments, commanding the people of Israel to believe in God, not to worship idols or take God’s name in vain, to keep the Shabbat, honor their parents, not to murder, not to commit adultery, not to steal, and not to bear false witness or covet another’s property. In synagogue, we stand during the chanting of the Ten Commandments to commemorate that we were all standing at the foot Mt. Sinai when they were delivered.
There's no Torah portion named "Moses" but this week's portion is named for Moses's non-Israelite (non-Jewish/Israelite) father-in-law Yitro. He was a person of multiple talents and names, supporting the family while Moses was leading the people and off communicating with God. When Moses was overwhelmed adjudicating disputes among his congregants, Yitro didn't just criticize his workaholic son-in-law, but proposed a solution: the establishment of a judicial hierarchy. He's our model for being a parent-in-law. Yitro is further honored because we get the tenets of enlightened civilization, the Ten Commandments, in this Torah portion named for him.