This week’s Torah portion is Yitro (Exodus 18:1–20:23)
My second discussion of the parasha is with a fellow convert to Judaism.
* Yitro is one of two Torah portions named for a non-Jew (along with Noach). Many non-Jews are portrayed positively in the Torah. First expression of “Baruch HaShem” is by Yitro, a goy. The father of Jewish judiciary is a Midianite priest.
* Why do we have parasha Yitro following the warning against Amalek? Lest Jews think all non-Jews are enemies.
* God says Jews will be precious to him as long as they keep His covenant. If not, no?
* How important is faith in Judaism? Some Orthodox rabbis I’ve known are atheists:
“Most of them are still there because they love community life, their friends, the Kiddush after the Shabbat morning prayer. Most of them are 40 and 50 years old – not exactly an easy age to start a ‘cultural emigration.’ Moreover, and that’s a very important parameter, most of them make a living off the profession, and their livelihood depends on their faith, even if just outwardly.”
John Updike wrote in his novel SEEK MY FACE: “Or perhaps, if she is Jewish, she is unable to put the question of God quite the way a Christian would put it, in urgent terms of either/or. For the chosen people, the relation has evolved beyond the possibility of dropped acquaintance into that of a familiarity that breeds contempt…”
* Why does God introduce Himself in the Ten Commandments by saying I am the God who brought you out of Egypt, rather than I am the God who created Heaven and Earth? This is an ethno-nationalist God who has a particular relationship with a particular people.
* “I am God” is for the intellectuals, “who brought you out of Egypt” is for the people. (Ibn Ezra)
* Why were the 10 Commandments not given in Israel? To stress their universal applicability.
* Why did you have to avoid women (meaning, your wife) for three days prior to the revelation?
* The Sabbath commandment also includes the injunction to work six days a week.
* When God spoke to man, He spoke Hebrew.
* Tweet: “Equality means believing that a child living 5,000 miles away is a precious as the one sleeping in your nursery right now.”
* Goy: “I am interested in how the people only believe Moses because they see a miracle (19:9) and how it’s Jethro, not Hashem, who sets up the bureaucracy… and the 2nd commandment has always perplexed me. And also about how this all relates to the modern idea of nation states.”
* “Judaism is filled with non-entitlements.” (Dennis Prager)
* Without Jews/Torah, ancient Egypt would not be known as a house of slaves. The ancient Egyptians were brilliant. The Germans were brilliant and they brilliantly created Auschwitz. (Dennis Prager)