Friday, February 9, 2007

Some additions to Yitro.

I neglected to consult Rashi yesterday re: the parshah. So I was poking around on today (they do this really nice split screen bit with Rashi's commentary and the parshah). Of course Etz Chayim included some Rashi commentary, but not the GOOD stuff.

For example, I queried why the first portion of Yitro expresses multiple times that Jethro is Moses's father-in-law. As if one or two times weren't enough, it's restated five times in the first seven verses. Rashi's commentary:
Moses’ father-in-law. Here Jethro prides himself on [his relationship to] Moses, [saying,] “I am the king’s father-in-law.” In the past, Moses attributed the greatness to his father-in-law, as it is said: “Moses went and returned to Jether, his father-in-law” (Exod. 4:18). ... the text is speaking of Jethro’s praise, that he lived amidst the greatest honor of the world, but his heart prompted him to go forth to the desert wasteland to hear words of Torah. ... As a token of honor, Scripture refers to him as the king’s father-in-law [and not by his name].
So Rashi is saying that there is an emphasis on the greatness viewed by Jethro of Moses and vice-a-versa. The emphasis isn't to say "yo, did you forget? Jethro is Moses's father-in-law!" But rather, to emphasize their special, mutually respected relationship.

Rashi's take on the verse "on that day" to mean quite the same as many other sages, indeed.
on this day. On the New Moon (Mechilta, Shab. 86b). It could have said only, “on that day.” What is the meaning of "on this day"? That the words of the Torah shall be new to you, as if they were given just today.
This is why each year we cycle through Torah, refreshing our minds and seeing the text anew. I cannot imagine approaching Torah any other way, and I look forward to the future years in which I wil read and reread the parshah as I read them in this year, 5767. It's like watching a movie over and over, your eye always catches something new and different. Additionally, reading Torah as if it were just given today allows one to feel constantly refreshed by the text and constantly renewed in Judaism.

I sometimes wonder what it would do to Judaism for each of the Jewish people to spend a little time everyday with Torah. It would make the faith and culture more alive than before. I now understand yeshiveh and the dedication of true Torah scholars. I strive to become as one someday, someday soon.