Can God Prohibit an Emotion?

Can God Prohibit an Emotion?

Feb 5, 2021 By Sarah Wolf | Commentary | Yitro

Part of my current research focuses on how human emotions are discussed and legislated in the Talmud and other ancient rabbinic texts, and so the last of the Ten Commandments (as counted in the Jewish tradition) raises for me some fundamental questions.

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Expanding the Circle of Revelation

Expanding the Circle of Revelation

Feb 12, 2020 By Daniel Nevins | Commentary | Yitro

Are women Jews? This shocking question, first phrased by the feminist scholar Rachel Adler, is linked by Judith Plaskow to our portion in her 1990 book, Standing Again at Sinai. When Moses descends from the mountain to prepare the people for revelation, he tells them, “Be ready for the third day; do not go near a woman” (Exod. 19:15). Sexual contact makes one temporarily impure, and God wanted the people to receive the revelation in a state of purity. As Plaskow notes, Moses could have said, “men and women do not go near each other,” but instead he addresses only the men. She writes, “In this passage, the Otherness of women finds its way into the very center of Jewish experience.”

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The Confusion of Revelation

The Confusion of Revelation

Jan 25, 2019 By Barry Holtz | Commentary | Yitro

We have now come to Parashat Yitro in our annual Torah reading cycle, arguably the most significant sedra in the Humash. While Parashat Bereishit has the mythic power of the creation stories and Parashat Beshallah includes the narrative of the Exodus from Egypt and the miraculous crossing of the Sea, it is in Yitro that we see the culmination of that crossing, for here in Parashat Yitro we read about our first connection to the Torah, the single most significant element of Judaism as it later evolved.

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Where Do We Look to Find Our Center?

Where Do We Look to Find Our Center?

Feb 2, 2018 By Adam Berman | Commentary | Yitro

We Jews read the Torah bit by bit, or parashah by parashah, over the course of a year. As a result, traditional Jewish interpretation of the Bible tends to focus on small units such as individual verses or short passages. But the Torah sometimes uses overarching structures in longer units to convey key themes. An important example occurs in this week’s parashah.

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Power and Love

Power and Love

Feb 17, 2017 By Rachel Rosenthal | Commentary | Yitro

[P]ower without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.

― Martin Luther King Jr., “Where Do We Go From Here?” (1967)

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Why Did Moses Listen to Yitro’s Advice?

Why Did Moses Listen to Yitro’s Advice?

Feb 17, 2017 By Walter Herzberg | Commentary | Yitro

Yitro heard that God had done wonders for Moses and Israel and had redeemed them from Egypt. He journeyed from Midian with Moses’s wife and sons to the Israelites’ encampment at the mountain of God. We hear nothing of Moses’s reunion with his wife and children, but rather a detailed account of Yitro’s organizational advice to Moses.

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Of God and Man

Of God and Man

Jan 16, 2011 By Abigail Treu | Commentary | Text Study | Yitro

When I was little, my best friend and I shared a favorite game of Barbie dolls.

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A Leadership Checklist

A Leadership Checklist

Feb 2, 2002 By Joshua Heller | Commentary | Yitro

This week we read parashat Yitro, whose primary focus is the revelation at Sinai, and the Jewish people’s preparation for that unique event in the history of the Jewish people. Aside from several spiritual and ritual preparations, the creation of a effective system of leadership is an essential practical component of the readiness for this great event.

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The Secret of Judaism’s Vibrancy

The Secret of Judaism’s Vibrancy

Jan 21, 1995 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Yitro

The insignia for a Jewish chaplain in the armed forces of the United States is the two tablets of the Ten Commandments, worn prominently on both lapels. My father, the immigrant rabbi, wore his with pride when he was a civilian chaplain at the Valley Forge Army Hospital during World War Two and the Korean War, as did I when I served a two-year stint as an army chaplain from 1962-64 at Fort Dix and in Korea. The insignia has always appealed to me because of what it represents: the core experience of God by Israel at the foot of Mount Sinai. What could be more central? This is the event that determines the nature of Judaism and the destiny of its adherents

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Judaism As a Relationship

Judaism As a Relationship

Feb 1, 1997 By Ismar Schorsch | Commentary | Yitro

The permanent exhibition of the Diaspora Museum in Tel Aviv begins with a replica of the relief from the Arch of Titus depicting Jewish prisoners bearing Temple artifacts (a large seven-branched menorah, for example) into exile. Nearby a piece of signage unfurls the Museum’s conception of Jewish history: “This is the story of a people which was scattered over all the world and yet remained a single family; a nation which time and again was doomed to destruction and yet out of ruins, rose to new life.” These stirring words attest to an unbroken national will to live. Exile did not end Jewish history nor fragment Jewish unity. Shared consciousness made up for the lack of proximity.

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