Parashat Yitro / פרשת יתרו

Crop of Jethro Advising Moses by Jan van Bronchorst


Parashat Yitro is the 17th weekly reading in the annual Torah reading cycle, and the fifth reading of Shemot (“Exodus”). Yitro (יִתְרוֹ) is Hebrew for Jethro, the name of Moshe’s (Moses) father-in-law, and the second word of the parashah, which begins by relating how, having heard of all that G-d had done for Moshe and for Yisrael (Israel), Yitro comes to Moshe with Moshe’s wife and two sons.

The parashah records the meeting of Moshe and Yitro, including their respective greetings, how Yitro rejoices and blesses HaShem for all the good He has done for Yisrael, the offerings and the sacrifices Yitro brings to HaShem, and the fellowship which Yitro shares with Moshe, Aharon (Aaron), and all Ziknei Yisrael (the Elders of Yisrael) before G-d. The parashah continues with a record of the instruction Yitro gives to Moshe pertaining to teaching and judging in Yisrael, and Moshe’s humble submission to his father-in-law.

Parashat Yitro continues with the events surrounding the meeting of HaShem and the nation of Yisrael at Sinai. With Yisrael encamped at the foot of the mountain, Moshe ascends to speak with G-d, and then returns to us to relate HaShem’s loving invitation to us to be to Him a Mamlekhet Kohanim (Kingdom of Priests) and a Goy Kadosh (Holy Nation), including the basic terms of the relationship. With our agreement, HaShem instructs Moshe to consecrate us and to prepare us to meet our King—to be ready for the third day.

The parashah then relates the events of the third day, including a detailed description of the awesome way in which HaShem descends upon the mountain in the sight of the entire nation of Yisrael, the sights, the sounds, and the response of the people. It is then that HaShem speaks His Mitzvah (Commandment; a.k.a. the Ten Commandments) in the hearing of Yisrael. The parashah records HaShem’s words along with the response of the people, and Moshe’s explanation for HaShem’s approach. The parashah concludes with the words HaShem spoke to us through Moshe emphasizing that we are not to make idols of silver and gold, and why.

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Torah Portion: Exodus 18:1 – 20:23

1st Aliyah: Exodus 18:1-12 (12 verses)
2nd Aliyah: Exodus 18:13-23 (11 verses)
3rd Aliyah: Exodus 18:24-27 (4 verses)
4th Aliyah: Exodus 19:1-6 (6 verses)
5th Aliyah: Exodus 19:7-19 (13 verses)
6th Aliyah: Exodus 19:20-20:14 (20 verses)
7th Aliyah: Exodus 20:15-23 (9 verses)
Maftir: Exodus 20:19-23 (5 verses)

Reading from the Nevi’im (Prophets):

Traditional Ashkenazi Haftarah:
Isaiah 6:1 – 7:6 & 9:5 – 9:6
Traditional Sephardic Haftarah: Isaiah 6:1 – 6:13

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