by Rabbi Yaakov Menken
We discussed last week how a person must take any momentary inspiration and
grasp it and use it if he or she wishes to go. From this week's parsha, we
learn that this is the essence of hearing. "And Yisro heard...all that
G-d had done for Moshe and Israel... and Yisro came..." Only Yisro! And
note that he was "Kohen Midyan", the priest of the Midianites (Medeans?),
and nonetheless he dropped everything to go join the Nation of Israel. Why?
Because he alone really heard the message.
Often we claim to "hear" something, but it goes in one ear and out the
other. None of us (I dare presume) has not had the experience of spending
an hour or more at the keyboard, and then seeing the computer freeze up,
power down, or otherwise head out to lunch without giving us the opportunity
to save our work. Without saving, everything is lost. [Incidentally, the
lateness of this submission is partially due to the fact that this happened
to me last night while preparing the LifeLine...] The same thing can be
true of things we hear, but make no effort to remember, understand, or learn
from. In the Torah, "hearing" means much more: "Sh'ma Yisroel" [Hear,
Israel...], and "Naaseh V'Nishma" [We will do, and we will hear...] as said
at Mt. Sinai. [Heard from Rabbi Asher Rubenstein, Jerusalem]
I would like to offer a second, short D'var Torah of a "lighter" nature.
Trivia Question: How many Mitzvot are there in the "Ten Commandments?"
In the Mitzva of Sabbath observance, the Torah tells us that "For six days
you will work, and do all your labors; and the seventh day is a day of rest
for the L-rd your G-d..." Why does it need to say "all" your labors - isn't
The Vilna Gaon, Rabbi Eliyahu Kramer, noted that an interesting set of laws
pertain to a person who wakes up in an isolated location, and does not know
what day is actually Shabbos. Such an individual must count six days, and
then consider the seventh to be the day of rest. However, knowing that this
is not necessarily true (and is even unlikely), he or she must do no more
work during the six days than is necessary for sustinence, and must even
work on the seventh day to the same extent - because each day might really
be Shabbos. So this is why the Torah tells us to "Guard the Sabbath day:"
by remembering, we will be able to do all of our work during the six
weekdays, and rest from all work on the seventh! [Heard from Rabbi
Text Copyright © 1995 Rabbi Yaakov Menken and Project Genesis, Inc.
The author is the Director of Project Genesis.