Pearls of Rashi – Parshas Yisro

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This week we read Parshas Yisro. It picks up where the past few Torah readings left off. First, we read of the Jew’s oppression in Egypt; the Torah then told of their deliverance through many miracles, including the splitting of the sea. Finally, in this week’s portion we read of the Jew’s receiving the Torah from Hashem. The entire nation heard the “Ten Commandments” directly from the Almighty Himself.

Originally, when Hashem commanded Moshe to take the Jews from Egypt, He told him[1] “… when you take the people out of Egypt, you will worship G-d on this mountain.” In other words, the entire purpose of the exodus from Egypt, was in order that the Jews to ultimately receive the Torah.

The Torah actually repeats the “Ten Commandments.” It is written in this week’s Torah portion, based on the order in which events took place[2]. It is repeated once again at the end of the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. There Moshe repeats these commandments to the Jews who are on the verge of entering the Holy Land[3].

There are a number of differences between both versions of these commandments. The most noticeable difference is found in the commandment to keep Shabbos. In our portion it says[4]Remember the day of Shabbos to sanctify it.” At the end of the 40 years[5] it says “Keep the day of Shabbos day to sanctify it…” How can we reconcile these two versions?

Which word did Hashem say; remember or keep? Rashi explains that both words were spoken simultaneously.

This can be understood with a story of one of the Alter Rebbe’s Chassidim. This Chossid was extremely pious, nevertheless he was also unlearned. He would daven each of the three daily prayers at great length, reciting each word with great love and care. This was true, despite the fact that it was unclear whether or not he even understood the meaning of the prayers.

One of his fellow Chassidim asked him to explain this. Davening at length means that one prays with (while thinking about) a deep concept. What was he concentrating on?

He responded that he once heard his Rebbe say the following. “The words remember and keep were both said with one utterance (word). With each and every word we utter, we must both remember and keep the oneness of G-d.”

That was how he prayed. My we all learn from him, to fill the oneness of Hashem in every aspect of our lives.

Wishing one and all a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Likkutei Sichos Volume 14, Page 224

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[1]. Parshas Shemos, Shemos 3:12.

[2]. Our Parshah, Shemos 20:2-14.

[3]. Parshas Vo’eschanan, Devorim 5:6-18.


[4]. Our Parshah, Shemos 20:8

[5]. Parshas Vo’eschanan, Devorim 5:12.


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