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Exodus 18:1-20:23

Parshat Yitro
Shabbat, 18 Shevat, 5778
3 February, 2018
Select a portion:
2nd Portion: (Exodus 18:13-23)

Exodus Chapter 18

13It came about on the next day that Moses sat down to judge the people, and the people stood before Moses from the morning until the evening.   יגוַֽיְהִי֙ מִמָּ֣חֳרָ֔ת וַיֵּ֥שֶׁב משֶׁ֖ה לִשְׁפֹּ֣ט אֶת־הָעָ֑ם וַיַּֽעֲמֹ֤ד הָעָם֙ עַל־משֶׁ֔ה מִן־הַבֹּ֖קֶר עַד־הָעָֽרֶב:
It came about on the next day: This was the day after Yom Kippur. This is what we learned in Sifrei [actually in the Mechilta]. Now what is meant by "on the next day"? On the day after his [Moses’] descent from the mountain [which took place on Yom Kippur]. You must admit that it is impossible to say [that the next day means] anything but that [Moses sat down to judge the people] on the day after Yom Kippur. Before the giving of the Torah it was impossible to say (verse 15), “and I make known the statutes, etc.,” [since the statutes had not yet been given]. And from the time that the Torah was given, until Yom Kippur, Moses did not [have the chance to] sit down to judge the people, for on the seventeenth of Tammuz he descended [Mount Sinai] and broke the tablets. On the next day he ascended early in the morning and stayed for eighty days and descended on Yom Kippur. Hence, this section is not written in [chronological] order, for “It came about on the next day,” was not said until the second year. Even according to the one [Tanna] who says that Jethro arrived before the giving of the Torah, he was not sent away to his land until the second year, for it says here (verse 27), “Moses saw his father-in-law off,” and we find in the journey of the divisions [of the tribes, which took place in the second year,] that Moses said to him [Jethro], “We are journeying to the place…Please, do not leave us” (Num. 10:29-31). Now if this [incident] had taken place before the giving of the Torah, where do we find [i.e., where is it mentioned] that he returned? If you say that there [Num. 10:29] Jethro is not mentioned, but Hobab [is mentioned], and he was Jethro’s son, [that is not so since] Hobab is identical with Jethro, for so it is written: “of the children of Hobab, Moses’ father-in-law” (Jud. 4:11). -[based on Mechilta]   ויהי ממחרת: מוצאי יום הכיפורים היה, כך שנינו בספרי, ומהו ממחרת, למחרת רדתו מן ההר. ועל כרחך אי אפשר לומר אלא ממחרת יום הכיפורים, שהרי קודם מתן תורה אי אפשר לומר (פסוק טז) והודעתי את חקי וגו', ומשנתנה תורה עד יום הכיפורים לא ישב משה לשפוט את העם, שהרי בשבעה עשר בתמוז ירד ושבר את הלוחות, ולמחר עלה בהשכמה ושהה שמונים יום וירד ביום הכיפורים. ואין פרשה זו כתובה כסדר, שלא נאמר ויהי ממחרת עד שנה שניה, אף לדברי האומר יתרו קודם מתן תורה בא, שילוחו אל ארצו לא היה אלא עד שנה שניה, שהרי נאמר כאן (פסוק כז) וישלח משה את חותנו ומצינו במסע הדגלים שאמר לו משה (במדבר י כט) נוסעים אנחנו אל המקום וגו', (שם לא) אל נא תעזוב אותנו, ואם זו קודם מתן תורה, מששלחו והלך היכן מצינו שחזר ואם תאמר שם לא נאמר יתרו אלא חובב, ובנו של יתרו היה, הוא חובב הוא יתרו, שהרי כתיב (שופטים ד יא) מבני חובב חותן משה:
that Moses sat down…, and the people stood: He sat like a king, and they [everyone who came to be judged] all stood. The matter displeased Jethro, that he [Moses] belittled the respect due [the people of] Israel, and he reproved him about it, as it is said: “Why do you sit by yourself, and they are all standing?” [from Mechilta]   וישב משה וגו' ויעמד העם: יושב כמלך וכולן עומדים, והוקשה הדבר ליתרו שהיה מזלזל בכבודן של ישראל והוכיחו על כך, שנאמר (פסוק יד) מדוע אתה יושב לבדך וכלם נצבים:
from the morning until the evening: Is it possible to say this [that Moses actually sat in judgment from morning until evening]? But this [teaches us that] any judge who issues a true verdict-as truth demands it-even [if he spends only] one hour [reaching his judgment], Scripture deems it as if he had engaged in [the study of] the Torah for the entire day, and as if he were a partner with the Holy One, blessed is He, in the [act of] Creation, in which it says: “and it was evening, [and it was morning…]” (Gen. 1:5). [from Mechilta, Shab. 10a]   מן הבקר עד הערב: אפשר לומר כן, אלא כל דיין שדן דין אמת לאמיתו אפילו שעה אחת, מעלה עליו הכתוב כאילו עוסק בתורה כל היום, וכאלו נעשה שותף להקב"ה במעשה בראשית, שנאמר בו (בראשית א ה) ויהי ערב ויהי בקר יום אחד:
14When Moses' father in law saw what he was doing to the people, he said, "What is this thing that you are doing to the people? Why do you sit by yourself, while all the people stand before you from morning till evening?"   ידוַיַּרְא֙ חֹתֵ֣ן משֶׁ֔ה אֵ֛ת כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־ה֥וּא עֹשֶׂ֖ה לָעָ֑ם וַיֹּ֗אמֶר מָֽה־הַדָּבָ֤ר הַזֶּה֙ אֲשֶׁ֨ר אַתָּ֤ה עֹשֶׂה֙ לָעָ֔ם מַדּ֗וּעַ אַתָּ֤ה יוֹשֵׁב֙ לְבַדֶּ֔ךָ וְכָל־הָעָ֛ם נִצָּ֥ב עָלֶ֖יךָ מִן־בֹּ֥קֶר עַד־עָֽרֶב:
15Moses said to his father in law, "For the people come to me to seek God.   טווַיֹּ֥אמֶר משֶׁ֖ה לְחֹֽתְנ֑וֹ כִּֽי־יָבֹ֥א אֵלַ֛י הָעָ֖ם לִדְר֥שׁ אֱלֹהִֽים:
For…come: Heb. כִּי-יָבֹא, the present tense. [Although, strictly speaking, יָבֹא is the future tense, in this case it is used as the present, i.e., the people of Israel had already come to be judged.]   כי יבא: כמו כי בא, לשון הווה:
to seek God: [To be understood] as its Aramaic translation (Onkelos): לְמִתְבַָּע אוּלְפַן, to seek teaching from before the Lord.   לדרש א-להים: כתרגומו למתבע אולפן, לשאול תלמוד מפי הגבורה:
16If any of them has a case, he comes to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor, and I make known the statutes of God and His teachings."   טזכִּי־יִֽהְיֶ֨ה לָהֶ֤ם דָּבָר֙ בָּ֣א אֵלַ֔י וְשָׁ֣פַטְתִּ֔י בֵּ֥ין אִ֖ישׁ וּבֵ֣ין רֵעֵ֑הוּ וְהֽוֹדַעְתִּ֛י אֶת־חֻקֵּ֥י הָֽאֱלֹהִ֖ים וְאֶת־תּֽוֹרֹתָֽיו:
If any of them has a case, he comes to me: The one who has the case comes to me.   כי יהיה להם דבר בא: מי שיהיה לו דבר בא אלי:
17Moses' father in law said to him, "The thing you are doing is not good.   יזוַיֹּ֛אמֶר חֹתֵ֥ן משֶׁ֖ה אֵלָ֑יו לֹא־טוֹב֙ הַדָּבָ֔ר אֲשֶׁ֥ר אַתָּ֖ה עֹשֶֽׂה:
Moses’ father-in-law said: As a token of honor, Scripture refers to him as the king’s father-in-law [and not by his name].   ויאמר חתן משה: דרך כבוד קוראו הכתוב חותנו של מלך:
18You will surely wear yourself out both you and these people who are with you for the matter is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.   יחנָבֹ֣ל תִּבֹּ֔ל גַּם־אַתָּ֕ה גַּם־הָעָ֥ם הַזֶּ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר עִמָּ֑ךְ כִּֽי־כָבֵ֤ד מִמְּךָ֙ הַדָּבָ֔ר לֹֽא־תוּכַ֥ל עֲשׂ֖הוּ לְבַדֶּֽךָ:
You will surely wear yourself out: Heb. נָבֹל ךְתִּבָֹּל. As the Targum renders: [You will surely wear yourself out,] but the expression is an expression of withering, fleistre in Old French, like [these examples:] “even the leaves will be withered (נָבֵל)” (Jer. 8:13); “as a leaf withers (כִּנְבֵל עָלֶה) from a vine, etc.” (Isa. 34:4), which withers both from the heat and from the cold, and its strength weakens, and it is worn out.   נבל תבל: כתרגומו. ולשונו לשון כמישה פליישטרי"ר בלעז [לכמוש]. כמו (ירמיה ח יג) והעלה נבל, (ישעיה לד ד) כנבול עלה מגפן וגו', שהוא כמוש על ידי חמה ועל ידי קרח, וכחו תש ונלאה:
both you: גַּם-אַךְתָּה lit., also you. [This comes] to include Aaron, Hur, and the 70 elders.   גם אתה: לרבות אהרן וחור ושבעים זקנים:
is too heavy for you: Its weight is greater than your strength.   כי כבד ממך: כובדו רב יותר מכחך:
19Now listen to me. I will advise you, and may the Lord be with you. [You] represent the people before God, and you shall bring the matters to God.   יטעַתָּ֞ה שְׁמַ֤ע בְּקֹלִי֙ אִיעָ֣צְךָ֔ וִיהִ֥י אֱלֹהִ֖ים עִמָּ֑ךְ הֱיֵ֧ה אַתָּ֣ה לָעָ֗ם מ֚וּל הָֽאֱלֹהִ֔ים וְהֵֽבֵאתָ֥ אַתָּ֛ה אֶת־הַדְּבָרִ֖ים אֶל־הָֽאֱלֹהִֽים:
I will advise you, and may the Lord be with you: in [this] counsel. He [Jethro] said to him [Moses], “Go, consult the Lord [as to whether my advice is sound].” -[from Mechilta]   איעצך ויהי א-להים עמך: בעצה, אמר לו צא המלך בגבורה:
[You] represent the people before God: [as a] messenger and an intermediary between them and the Omnipresent, and one who inquires of Him concerning the ordinances. — [from Onkelos]   היה אתה לעם מול הא-להים: שליח ומליץ בינותם למקום, ושואל משפטים מאתו:
the matters: The matters of their quarrels. — [from Jonathan]   את הדברים: דברי ריבותם:
20And you shall admonish them concerning the statutes and the teachings, and you shall make known to them the way they shall go and the deed[s] they shall do.   כוְהִזְהַרְתָּ֣ה אֶתְהֶ֔ם אֶת־הַֽחֻקִּ֖ים וְאֶת־הַתּוֹרֹ֑ת וְהֽוֹדַעְתָּ֣ לָהֶ֗ם אֶת־הַדֶּ֨רֶךְ֙ יֵ֣לְכוּ בָ֔הּ וְאֶת־הַמַּֽעֲשֶׂ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר יַֽעֲשֽׂוּן:
21But you shall choose out of the entire nation men of substance, God fearers, men of truth, who hate monetary gain, and you shall appoint over them [Israel] leaders over thousands, leaders over hundreds, leaders over fifties, and leaders over tens.   כאוְאַתָּ֣ה תֶֽחֱזֶ֣ה מִכָּל־הָ֠עָ֠ם אַנְשֵׁי־חַ֜יִל יִרְאֵ֧י אֱלֹהִ֛ים אַנְשֵׁ֥י אֱמֶ֖ת שׂ֣נְאֵי בָ֑צַע וְשַׂמְתָּ֣ עֲלֵהֶ֗ם שָׂרֵ֤י אֲלָפִים֙ שָׂרֵ֣י מֵא֔וֹת שָׂרֵ֥י חֲמִשִּׁ֖ים וְשָׂרֵ֥י עֲשָׂרֹֽת:
But you shall choose: with the holy spirit that is upon you. — [from Mechilta]   ואתה תחזה: ברוח הקודש שעליך:
men of substance: Heb. אַנְשֵׁי-חַיִל, wealthy men, who do not have to flatter or show favoritism. — [from Mechilta] [   אנשי חיל: עשירים, שאין צריכין להחניף ולהכיר פנים:
men of truth: These are people who keep their promises, upon whose words one may rely, and thereby, their commands will be obeyed. — [from Mechilta]   אנשי אמת: אלו בעלי הבטחה, שהם כדאי לסמוך על דבריהם, שעל ידי כן יהיו דבריהם נשמעין:
who hate monetary gain: Who hate [to have] their own property in litigation, like [the Talmudic adage] that we say: Any judge from whom money is exacted through litigation is not [fit to be] a judge. — [based on Mechilta and B.B. 58b]   שנאי בצע: ששונאין את ממונם בדין כההיא דאמרינן כל דיינא דמפקין ממונא מיניה בדינא לאו דיינא הוא:
leaders over thousands: They were six hundred officers for six hundred thousand [men]. — [from Mechilta, Sanh. 18a]   שרי אלפים: הם היו שש מאות שרים לשש מאות אלף:
leaders over hundreds: They were six thousand. — [from Mechilta, Sanh. 18a]   שרי מאות: ששת אלפים היו:
leaders over fifties: Twelve thousand. — [from Mechilta, Sanh. 18a]   שרי חמשים: שנים עשר אלף:
and leaders over tens: Sixty thousand. — [from Mechilta, Sanh. 18a] [Rashi lists the number of each category of judges, which appears to be superfluous, because the Torah should start with the lowest denomination and ascend to the highest instead of starting with the highest and descending to the lowest. Rashi answers that it starts with the highest officers because they are the lowest number.]   שרי עשרת: ששים אלף:
22And they shall judge the people at all times, and it shall be that any major matter they shall bring to you, and they themselves shall judge every minor matter, thereby making it easier for you, and they shall bear [the burden] with you.   כבוְשָֽׁפְט֣וּ אֶת־הָעָם֘ בְּכָל־עֵת֒ וְהָיָ֞ה כָּל־הַדָּבָ֤ר הַגָּדֹל֙ יָבִ֣יאוּ אֵלֶ֔יךָ וְכָל־הַדָּבָ֥ר הַקָּטֹ֖ן יִשְׁפְּטוּ־הֵ֑ם וְהָקֵל֙ מֵֽעָלֶ֔יךָ וְנָֽשְׂא֖וּ אִתָּֽךְ:
And they shall judge: Heb. וְשָׁפְטוּ. [Onkelos renders:] וִִידוּנוּן, an imperative expression.]   ושפטו: וידונון, לשון צווי:
thereby making it easier for you: Heb. וְהָקֵל. This thing [i.e., this arrangement will serve] to make it easier for you. וְהָקֵל is like הַכְבֵָּד in “he hardened (וְהַכְבֵָּד) his heart” (Exod. 8: 11) [lit., making heavy his heart]; “and slew (וְהַכּוֹת) the Moabites” (II Kings 3:24) [lit., and slaying the Moabites], a present tense.   והקל מעליך: דבר זה להקל מעליך. והקל, כמו (שמות ח יא) והכבד את לבו, (מלכים ב ג כד) והכות את מואב, לשון הווה:
23If you do this thing, and the Lord commands you, you will be able to survive, and also, all this people will come upon their place in peace."   כגאִ֣ם אֶת־הַדָּבָ֤ר הַזֶּה֙ תַּֽעֲשֶׂ֔ה וְצִוְּךָ֣ אֱלֹהִ֔ים וְיָֽכָלְתָּ֖ עֲמֹ֑ד וְגַם֙ כָּל־הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֔ה עַל־מְקֹמ֖וֹ יָבֹ֥א בְשָׁלֽוֹם:
and the Lord commands you, you will be able to survive: Consult God; if He commands you to do this, you will be able to endure, but if He prevents you [from doing it], you will be unable to endure. — [from Mechilta]   וצוך א-להים ויכלת עמד: המלך בגבורה אם יצוה אותך לעשות כך תוכל עמוד, ואם יעכב על ידך לא תוכל לעמוד:
and also, all this people: Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and the 70 elders who now accompany you. — [from Mechilta]   וגם כל העם הזה: אהרן נדב ואביהוא ושבעים זקנים הנלוים עתה עמך:
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