The most momentous day in Jewish history! At last, we are given the Torah, G-d’s blueprint for how He wants the world to run, and the best way for us to live our lives. The Torah is known throughout the world to be filled with wisdom and advice.
And what’s the name of this Torah portion that describes the giving of the Torah? Yisro. Yes, the whole Torah portion is named after Jethro, the father-in-law of Moshe. But why?
The beginning of the Torah portion recounts how Yisro came to join the Jewish nation after hearing about the splitting of the sea, and the war with Amalek.
These two events were G-d’s way to prepare the world for the changes that would occur with the giving of the Torah.
Prior to the giving of the Torah, the Mitzvot that the Jews performed did not impact the world. Spirituality could not enter physicality, and thus, the two realms did not merge. The Lulav used for a Mitzvah did not become holy, nor did the parchment used to create Tefillin. All that would change at the giving of the Torah, when the heavens and earth met.
In order to prepare the world, G-d needed to remove some layers of impurity. He began by drowning the Egyptians in the sea. The Egyptians represent all immorality in the world. Killing them was a first step to destroying the evil of the world. Next, during the war with Amalek, G-d saved and protected the Jews that were doubting the very existence of G-d (and were therefore outside of the Clouds of Glory’s protection, as discussed last week).
These two events help us fulfill the mission given to us at the time of the giving of the Torah; to influence the people around us, to transform the physicality of the world, and make it a better place.
Candle lighting time in NYC: Friday, 5:06 PM