During a recent Zoom meeting, a participant remarked that she dreaded video calls, lamenting, “Seeing everyone else’s beautiful homes makes me feel bad about mine.”
During the pandemic, we have spent an unprecedented amount of time on screens, enjoying a
The slogan for the Torah portion known as Yitro should be “we’ve arrived.” The theophany on Mount Sinai – God’s Revelation of the Ten Commandments – is arguably the climax of the Torah (Exodus 20). But the story doesn’t end here – it is the post-Sinai textual journey where we learn that we exist in a perpetual state of arrival, constantly figuring out how to hear Torah as we walk through our daily lives.
Jews are good at nostalgia. We remember with fondness the tenements of the Lower East Side when our community was tight knit and intact. We remember the quaintness of shtetl life untouched by outsiders. We yearn for the sovereignty of
We have arrived. All of the stories; all the of the generations between Adam and Eve, and the matriarchs and patriarchs; and 400 years of slavery in Egypt now culminate in the Israelites’ triumphant redemption. They all lead to this singular moment: the Revelation at Sinai. In Parashat Yitro, Moses guides the Israelite people to Mt. Sinai where they encounter God, experiencing all the drama and glory of Revelation.
Biblical commentators consistently note that one of the exceptional aspects of the Revelation at Sinai is that it is a communal revelation. Every previous moment of revelation in the Torah consists of God speaking privately to an individual or two — Noah, Abraham, Moses, and so on. Private revelation is the most common in other religions as well: an individual experiences God and then shares that revelation more broadly.
In this parasha, Yitro brings Zipporah and her sons to Moses after all that has happened in escaping Egypt. He then tells him to appoint judges, and Moses does this. The Israelites hear the covenant from God and accept it, but there’s so much more to come: they encounter God at Mount Sinai and are given the ten commandments. Listen for more!