The haftarah for Parshat Yitro is Isaiah’s vision of the spiritual realm known in Chassidic and Kabbalistic teaching as the world of Beriah.1

This is connected to our parshah, which speaks of the giving of the Ten Commandments, when the Jewish people experienced a similar, or perhaps even greater, vision.

Every name of G‑d has a different level of holiness and is connected to a different spiritual realm. The greater the name, the higher the realm.

In the haftarah, Isaiah sees G‑d—here referred to with the name Adnai (Ado-nai)—sitting on a throne, and the angels (Seraphim) are praising Him. Seraphim are the angels of the world of Beriah, and the name of G‑d they experience there is Adnai (which is lower than the Tetragrammaton, which we don’t pronounce, instead saying Adnai).

He sees the “Seraphim standing above Him,”2 meaning that they are above the level of Adnai. If these angels are from the world of Beriah, how can they be above Adnai if that is the name they are privy to? Shouldn’t they be with Him?

These angels know that there is a higher level of Divinity to be experienced, and they yearn for that. This places them “above” that which they experience. As the Baal Shem Tov says: “In the place where a person’s will is, that is where he is.” Since the Seraphim want to be above, they are above.34

Although we are talking about angels, the Baal Shem Tov’s teaching is about a person. A person’s thoughts are very powerful even when he is physically in one place; in his thoughts, though, he can be somewhere else. And like the angels, he is really there.

We see this in Jewish law as well. On Shabbat, one may walk 2,000 cubits (approximately 3,000 feet) out of his city. If he wants to go further, he can make an eiruv techumim, putting food at the 2,000-cubit mark, making that spot his “residence.” Now he can go another 2,000 cubits from that point. Though he will physically greet Shabbat at home in the city, since his thoughts are at his eiruv, he is considered to be there.

The implications of this idea are tremendous. First, our thoughts are real, and thinking about someone affects that person. This is why I appreciate it so much when people tell me that they are thinking of me. Just like when you look at water and see your reflection, so are the thoughts and feelings you have for another reflected back at you by him. So your positive thoughts make a difference.5

Take this a step further. In his essence, every Jewish person wants to be with G‑d. Even if a Jew is totally lost from his faith, deep within the recesses of his soul he still wants to be with G‑d and do His will. This means that a Jew is always with G‑d; therefore, you must never give up on him, no matter how far you think he is.

The haftarah continues. Isaiah heard the angels call to one another to pray, and they said together: “Holy, holy, holy is the G‑d of hosts, the whole Earth is full of His glory.”6 This is a verse we say several times a day in our prayers. What is the meaning of this verse to us? Why say “holy” three times? What is the meaning of the earth being full of His glory? Shouldn’t they say that the Heavens are full of His glory?

The Midrash likens this to a parable of countrymen who made their king three crowns. What did the king do with them? He put one on his head, and the other two on his children’s heads. So, too, every day the Heavenly hosts put before G‑d three holies, saying, “Holy, holy, holy.” What does He do with them? He puts one on His head (so to speak) and two on the Jewish people.

What does each holy represent? They are connected to the phrases in the Shema, “With all your heart, with all your soul and with all your means.”7 The first crown is on G‑d’s head. It is the recognition that there is something higher. It is connected to the heart, which yearns to reach and connect to higher levels of G‑d. The second and third are on our heads. It is our ability to draw G‑dliness down and make the physical world holy through studying Torah and doing mitzvahs. The study of Torah is connected to the soul, being the spiritual part of our service to G‑d. The mitzvahs are connected to our means, being the physical part of our service.

The angels recognize that our Torah study and mitzvahs down here are most important, and that it draws G‑d’s glory into the physical. This is why they conclude: “The whole Earth is full of His glory.”8

On another level, since G‑d chose us from all of existence and gave us Divine souls that are a part of Him, we are one with Him and His representation in this world. It is through us that the world is full of His glory.9

Now that we are aware of how special every Jew is, we can understand the continuation of the haftarah. Isaiah realized that he saw a very holy sight, and said: “Woe is to me! For I am lost, because I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of a nation of unclean lips.”10 He was later punished for speaking disparagingly about the Jewish people.11 The leader of the Jewish people should know the value of a Jew and never speak badly of one, let alone the whole nation. This is written in the Tanach as a lesson to us not to speak badly of others.1213

To make the point, G‑d sent him on a mission to the Jewish people, as if to say, “Even if they don’t seem to be the way you think they should, never give up on them, because the value of every Jew is immeasurable.”

This is why G‑d chose to take us out of Egypt and gave us the Torah at Mount Sinai: Because we are that special.

Because of this, we are able to make such a big difference in the world and accomplish the mission that we were chosen for: to fill the whole world with His glory, which we will witness with the coming of Moshiach. May he come soon!