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Perashat Yitro 5778

Home > Rabbi's Weekly Message > Perashat Yitro 5778

Perashat Yitro 5778

Friday, February 02, 2018 Author: Rabbi Mimoun Miller

In this week's perasha, we read about the revelation of Hashem on Har Sinai as He proclaimed the Ten Commandments amid thunder and lightning. In the first of the Ten Commandments Hashem introduces Himself with the words, "I am the Lord, your God, Who took you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage". This is considered the first commandment, but doesn't it seem more of a proclamation than a missva?

Furthermore, there is another question that must be asked. Why is Hashem introducing Himself as the One who took Am Yisrael out of Egypt? Isn't it more significant that Hashem created the Universe?

The 12th century sage Rabbenu Asher explained that during the ExodusHashem demonstrated that not only did He create the world but that He also is actively occupied in it. He chose the Jewish people and then liberated them from Egypt with full divine intervention.

Why is the word Anokhi used and not the simpler Ani? Rabbi Hirsch, in his commentary on the Ten Commandments, writes that Ani signifies the speaker as separate from the one addressed while Anokhi suggests that an intimate relationship exists between the two, and they are somehow interconnected in understanding. By using the word Anokhi, Hashem was declaring to each individual Jew I am with you.
The key to understanding the first pronouncement is that Bore Olam is my Hashem, the One who created me, guided me with certain obligations, and continues to be active during my life.

Therefore, it was important for Hashem to reveal Himself as the God who took us out of Egypt. Divine Providence in the deliverance from Egypt is the fundamental basis for Jewish faith, an essential belief that we witnessed ourselves. 

We are tasked with keeping this memory alive through certain missvot which oblige us to remember the Exodus. Among these missvot are Shabbat, Tefillin, and Sissit. This memory prompts one to ask: What does Hashem, with whom I have a close relationship going back as far as Egypt, expect of me?

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