Parsha Yitro – Transcendence of Torah
The theme of Parsha Yitro, as I see it, is transcendence of Torah, and the power of receiving Torah. It happened in and around the receiving of Torah, which is in Parsha Yitro.
Yitro is the name of Moses’ converted father-in-law, who had tasted every aspect, every flavor of every religion in the world before he came to realize and accept upon himself Judaism as the one, true religion. In doing so, he made a great sanctification of G-d’s name in his life.
He was also a man of vision and insight into people. So he was the one, maybe the only one qualified to successfully give advice to his son-in-law, Moses, the greatest scholar and prophet of all time. He was able to tell Moses that he needed to allocate the various responsibilities of helping and guiding the people to many others, along with himself. This shows, retroactively, that he was able to go down to the essence of every person, and to see who they were and what their essence was, because Moses’s soul was an over-soul. He was able to see the essence of everybody inside of himself, and thereby he’d know exactly what to tell them.
Another transcendent aspect that comes through in this Parsha is that Moses was able to see other people’s essence and greatness, not only by identifying it inside his own self, but also, as the Zohar goes to great lengths to explain, to see how each person’s body reveals deep secrets about that person. That includes lines on the face, the distance of eyes, ears, nose and mouth from each other, the color of the eyes, the entire arrangement of the face. These are things we may feel intuitively, but the Zohar goes into great detail about knowing the essence of a person, based on his or her physical make-up. It reveals what the spiritual personality is all about. It’s another transcendence, inside-information resource about humans.
The whole of Parsha Yitro is leading toward coming to the mountain, which is probably the most transcendent experience mankind has ever had. Even before they got to the mountain, their openness to accept whatever G-d offers them, sight unseen, puts them at the level of Adam before the sin. It earns them the level of transcending sickness, aging and death because they were living on the level of accepting unseen whatever it was that G-d would bring out for them. They lifted themselves up to angelic reality, where they would not age, become sick or die.
Another transcendent point was that all the Ten Commandments were given in one word. In one word, they got the entire Torah, which is a very hard thing to understand. Their experience, as they received the Torah, were also very, very extraordinary. They were actually able to see the audio and to hear the visual. They rose themselves up to a place beyond space and time and normal understanding.
Another extraordinary point is that Torah was downloaded into each person who accepted it at that time. The Zohar talks about how the Torah and the Israelites and G-d are all one. When you get to the level where you connect to one of them, you connect to the other two as well. Torah, G-d and the Neshama, the soul… that’s the level the Israelites achieved at Mt. Sinai as well.
One extraordinary thing is how we hear a story. Parsha Yitro begins with the words that Yitro (Jethro) heard. You could have a thousand people, and 999 of them hear something one way, but that one, rare person hears it in the proper way, and that completely changes the reality of how we understand. So, we learn from that how to hear. Yitro heard from the cosmic happenings, what was happening to the Israelites, and understood, “I have to come. If that’s what’s happening to them, then they are my people.”
Within the Ten Commandments the Israelites received there are 620 letters, which equals the numerical value of the Sephira Keter, which shows they are G-d’s will. All of the letters of the Ten Commandments are hints to the entire Torah as well. Another hint is that 620 is 613 mitzvoth plus another seven mitzvoth from the rabbis. So, it’s Keter, and it’s all the mitzvoth and the entire Torah just waiting to be expounded upon.
Parsha Yitro also talks about the idea of Torah itself being the culmination of the Israelites’ entire experience in Egypt, coming out of Egypt, and in preparing themselves to get to Mt. Sinai. The Torah they received is the ultimate, transcendent aspect of life. It showed them G-d’s will in any particular situation, but Torah, in itself, is a type of a cure-all. Connecting to Torah lifts a person above any negative effects in nature and any other way.
My teachers have told me, and they got this from our Sages… if anything is bothering you, just turn up the volume of Torah. Turn up the intensity, and turn up the quantity of Torah you’re learning. You’ll find healing in that.
So, it’s an interface with G-d, the fact we learn it now and that they received in the past it as well.
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