Saturday, 19 January 2019

Parsha: Yitro, "Navol Tibbol", Torah as a Co-operative Venture

originally published on 1/12/14

Let's recall Yitro's Mussar to Moshe Rabbenu. Moshe Rabbenu himself couldn't handle the sheer volume of Bnei Yisrael's legal cases without a ranked system of judges beneath him. 

We can easily understand why it's necessary for "G'dolim" to address knotty issues like agunot, defining death, etc. Yet if Moshe Rabbenu  couldn't manage it all,  then al achat kama vakammah, g'dolim today could be overwhelmed too! If it were required that each Rav master every Halachic complexity, then everyone, individually, would face "navol tibbol."  We'd be overwhelmed by the Yam Hatalmud, and Pos'qim, Chas v'Shalom

So it's mistavra that the role of Sarei alafim etc. is just as vital to avoiding "navol tibbol" as Moshe's own role on the top of the pyramid. Local Rabbonim, G'dolim, and any "vaad" or Dayan in between, all play necessary roles in this legal mechanism.Therefore, all levels really need each other. Recall, no one Jew can do all 613 Mitzvot! 

It seems this is the Mussar Heskel from our Parshah: Torah is a co-operative venture


Yitro: The Flow of Sinai

Originally published 2/13/09, 11:45 AM.

To many, the goal of religion is to attain a greater and greater religious or spiritual experience. Within the realm of Torah, though, the Jewish nation has already reached the pinnacle of religious experiences, the Revelation at Sinai. So what then is the Jewish religious experience or process through life?

Rabbi Hecht addresses this issue in an Insight from 5758 available at

Parsha: Yitro - How to Divide the Asseret Haddibrot?

originally posted January 23, 2013

How are the "10 Commandments" to be parsed [i.e. enumerated into different commandments] according to:

A. Hazal?

B and C. The Masoretic text?
[two different answers]

D. R Wolf Heidenheim? -

Wolf Heidenheim - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Shalom and Best Regards,

MISTAKES are always forgivable
If you have the courage to admit them.

P. Yitro - Last 3 Mitzvot, the Questions

Originally posted Jan. 23, 2016

 There are 3 mitzvot at the end of P. Yitro that are wedged in between the end of the 10 Dibrot and P. Mishpatim.
What are they?
What underlying theme connects these three together?
Hint: one is explicit, the other 2 are only subtly connected.


P. Yitro - Last 3 Mitzvot, the Answers

Originally posted Jan. 23, 2016

The 3 mitzvot are
1 "Lo Ta'asoon iti ...elohei chessef..."
2. "Mizbach adama.." thru "ki charb'cha..."
3. "V'lo ta'aleh b'ma'alot...Asher lo tiggaleh ervatcha..."

The common thread?
1. Idol Worship
2. Murder [charbecha]
3. Gilluy Arayot [explicitly so]

These constitute the 3 "cardinal sins" - albeit the last two are "subtle / abbizraihu" cases related specifically to the Mizbei'ach.


Parsha: Yitro, "2,000 Years Without Torah"

originally published on 1/12/14

Someone recently asked me the following question:

If the Torah is the guidebook for life, how could humanity have survived without this guidebook for 2000 years? In other words, why did God wait for 2000 years before giving the Torah?

I look forward to the ideas and to the discussion in your comments.

Rabbi Ben Hecht

Yitro: Emunah

Originally posted Jan. 23, 2016
From the archives of Nishma's Online Library at, we have chosen an article that relates to the week's parsha, both to direct you to this dvar Torah but also for the purposes of initiating some discussion.

This week's parsha is Yitro and the topic is emunah, which is generally translated as faith or trust. The question of how to translate the word actually reflects an issue involved in understanding the word. Is emunah something we control or is it a natural response of one's being? We invite you to look at an article on this topic at