Table Talk: Yitro
Were the Warnings Necessary? Moses was confused. God had already charged him to warn Israel to maintain the boundaries of Sinai and yet instructed Moses to repeat the warning. Shockingly, Moses even “reminds” God that he had already warned the people. God assured Moses that He knew that Israel had already been warned once, but He wanted them warned again.(19:21-24. See Rashi) God was concerned that Israel would be so excited by the Revelation that they would charge the mountain. Yet, we find that the opposite happened. Revelation ended with the nation asking that Moses serve as a go-between and that God not speak directly. The people stood from afar. They did not charge up the mountain but pulled back. What changed to cause the people to withdraw rather than to approach even closer?
Moshe Face to Face
I have been wondering how the average person experienced the great leader and redeemer. I imagine that it was difficult for each person to directly see Moses. They received their instructions about Manna, traveling and other rules through secondary leaders. Had I been there, I would have been desperate to meet Moses face to face. We learn in this portion that they actually had such an opportunity when Moses sat in judgment. Moses explained to Yitro, his father-in-law, that people came to speak with him for two reasons; one was to settle disputes, but the second, and far more important reason was to “Search for God”. (18:15-16) I can understand how the people accepted Yitro’s suggested judicial system to ease the process of coming to court. However, why did they possibly accept the loss of the opportunity to come directly to Moses for guidance in their Search for God? Did Moses intimidate them? Is it possible that their fear of Moses was greater than their desire to directly meet him? Is there a correspondence between the first Table Talk question and what happened with Yitro?
The Ten Statements
We do not read the Ten Statements, commonly translated as the Ten Commandments, as part of our prayers. The Sages were concerned that people would mistakenly believe that there are only ten commandments and no more. However, the Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 1:5) teaches that all ten can be found in the Shema. Can you identify where they are in Shema?