This article is an excerpt from our book
Verses: 72 [Siman:יונדב]
Haftorah: Isaiah 6:1-13
|Number of Mitzvot:
There are a total of Seventeen Mitzvot in Parashat Jethro. Three positive commands and Fourteen negative commands.
A. Positive commands:
1. Mitzvah 25/Positive 12: To believe that the world has one G-d who created all the creations, and that He lived and will live forever, and that He took us out of Egypt and gave us the Torah.
2. Mitzvah 31/Positive 13: To sanctify the Shabbat in words by its entrance and exit.
3. Mitzvah 33/Positive 14: To honor one’s father and mother.
B. Negative commands:
1. Mitzvah 26/Negative 14: Not to believe in any deity other than G-d.
2. Mitzvah 27/Negative 15: Not to make or manufacture idols.
3. Mitzvah 28/Negative 16: Not to bow/prostrate to an idol.
4. Mitzvah 29/Negative 17: Not to worship an idol in any of the ways that it is worshiped.
5. Mitzvah 30/Negative 18: Not to swear in vain using G-d’s name.
6. Mitzvah 32/Negative 19: Not to do labor on Shabbat, not us, our children, slaves or animals.
7. Mitzvah 34/Negative 20: Not to murder.
8. Mitzvah 35/Negative 21: Not to commit adultery with a married woman.
9. Mitzvah 36/Negative 22: Not to kidnap a Jew.
10. Mitzvah 37/Negative 23: Not to testify falsely.
11. Mitzvah 38/Negative 24: Not to covet another’s item, such as his house, and contemplate doing actions to take it into his possession.
12. Mitzvah 39/Negative 25: Not to make sculptures of humans.
13. Mitzvah 40/Negative 26: Not to build the altar using stones that have touched iron, such as if they have been hewed using iron.
14. Mitzvah 41/Negative 27: Not to use steps to walk onto the altar.
- Jethro and family arrive:
- Jethro, and Moses’s wife/kids travel to him: Jethro the priest of Midian, the father-in-law of Moses, heard all that G-d did for Moses and the Jewish people in taking them out of Egypt. Jethro took with him Tzipporah, Moses’s wife, and her two sons Gershom and Eliezer.
- The names of Moses’s sons: Gershom was named after the fact that Moses lived in a foreign land, and Eliezer was named after the fact that G-d helped Moses and saved him from the sword of Pharaoh.
- The meeting and subsequent meal: Jethro and family arrived at the desert, by Mount Sinai. Moses went out to greet them after Jethro informed him of their arrival. They exchanged greetings and Moses told Jethro all that occurred in Egypt and after their escape. Jethro rejoiced from hearing all the things G-d did for the Jewish people, having saved them from the hands of Egypt. Jethro blessed G-d, thanking Him for what He did, and exclaiming that now he knows that G-d is greater than all deities. Jethro then brought offerings to G-d, and Aaron and all the elders of the Jewish people sat for a meal with Jethro.
- Jethro advises Moses how to smoothly run the court system:
- Jethro witnesses a burdensome judicial system: The next day, Moses sat to judge the nation, from morning until evening. Jethro witnessed all that Moses was doing to the nation and chastised him for doing so, for sitting alone to judge while all the Jewish people await from morning until evening. Moses responded that he is judging the nation and teaching them the laws of G-d. Jethro responded that this is not good, as it is too burdensome for one man to carry this alone, and it is thus also too burdensome on the people.
- Jethro’s advice: “Now” says Jethro “let me advice you that you be for the people the direct speaker to G-d to covey to Him your queries, and to teach the nation of His commands. Find men of valor who are G-d fearing, men of truth who hate bribery, and appoint them as leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds, leaders of fifties, and leaders of tens. Whatever matter is too difficult for them to arbitrate will be brought to you, but everything else will be judged by them, and so the burden will be lessened off [your shoulders]. If you do so, and G-d agrees with this, then you will be able to be successful, you and the nation.”
- Moses listens to the advice: Moses adhered to Jethro’s advice in all that he said. Moses appointed men of valor from amongst the nation, and made them leaders upon the people. They judged the nation at all times, only brining Moses those cases that are too difficult for them to arbitrate.
- Jethro leaves: Moses sent off his father-in-law and he returned to his land.
- The children of Israel arrive on Mount Sinai:
- In the third month after the children of Israel left Egypt, they arrived to the Sinai desert on that day. They traveled from Refidim and reached the desert of Sinai, and they encamped in the desert opposite the mountain. Moses ascended to G-d, and G-d told him to relay the following message to the Jewish people:
- G-d’s message: “You have seen all that I have done to Egypt. I have carried you on an eagle’s wing and brought you to Me. Now, if you adhere my call and guard my covenant, you will be to Me a treasured nation amongst all the people of the earth. You will be to Me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.”
- Moses tells the nation of the covenant offered by G-d and the nation responds:
- Moses summoned the elders of the nation and explained to them all that G-d commanded him.
- The reply of the nation: The entire nation answered in unison and said “That which G-d spoke we shall do.” Moses reported their answer back to G-d.
- Moses relates the response to G-d: G-d told Moses that He will appear to him in the thickness of the cloud, so the nation hear Me speak to you, and they will believe in you forever. Moses then told G-d the nation’s response.
- G-d’s instructs Moses to instruct the Jewish people in preparation for the event:
- G-d told Moses to tell the Jewish people to sanctify themselves today and tomorrow, and they should wash their clothing. They should be prepared for the 3rd day, as on the 3rd day G-d will descend on Mount Sinai and appear to the eyes of the entire nation.
- Setting boundaries: G-d told Moses to set boundaries around the mountain, as whoever touches the mountain will die. They will be stoned or cast down. This applies to both man and animal. After the Shofar is sounded, they may ascend.
- Moses descended from the mountain and the nation was sanctified and they washed their clothing. Moses instructed them to be ready for the 3rd day and not to be with a woman until then.
- The Third Day-G-d appears on Mount Sinai:
- The thunder, lightning, smoke, and Shofar: On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, and a heavy cloud on the mountain. A very loud sound of the Shofar was heard. The nation became petrified. Moses escorted the nation to greet G-d, and they stood under the mountain. The mountain was filled with smoke, as G-d descended upon it with fire. The entire mountain trembled, and the sound of the Shofar grew continuously louder. Moses spoke and G-d would respond to him in a voice.
- Moses warns the Jewish people and ascends the mountain: G-d descended onto the top of the mountain of Mount Sinai and called onto Moses to ascend, and Moses ascended. G-d told Moses to descend back below and warn the nation [not to come close to the mountain] lest they die. Then Moses and Aaron are to ascend back onto the mountain although the priests and the people are to remain below, lest they die. Moses descended to the nation and told them.
- The Ten Commandments:
G-d spoke all these words saying:
- I am G-d your God who took you out of Egypt.
- Do not have other deities. Do not make for yourselves an image or picture that is found in the heavens or earth, or underwater. Do not bow down or worship them, as I am a G-d of retribution who gives judgment for the third and fourth generation for those who hate Me, although I do kindness for a thousand generations for those who love me and fulfill my Mitzvot.
- Do not recite G-d’s name in vain.
- Remember the Shabbat and sanctify it. Six days a week you shall work and on the seventh day it shall be a day of rest for G-d. You shall not do any work, neither you or your son or daughter, or slave or animal. As in six days G-d created the heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in it, and on the seventh day he rested. Therefore, He blessed the Shabbat and sanctified it.
- Honor your father and mother so that you live a long life.
- Do not murder.
- Do not commit adultery.
- Do not steal.
- Do not testify falsely regarding a friend.
- Do not covet the house of a friend, nor his wife, slave, ox, donkey or any of his assets.
- The nations reaction:
- The entire nation saw the sounds and flames, and the sound of the Shofar, and the smoke coming out of the mountain. The nation saw and distanced themselves from the mountain. They asked Moses to speak to them instead of G-d, lest they die. Moses assured them not to worry, and that this was done simply to intimidate them against sinning. Moses then approached the fog, where G-d was staying.
- More instructions of Mitzvot:
- Idols: G-d instructed Moses to tell the Jewish people that they have readily seen that G-d spoke to them from heaven and they shall not make for themselves deities of gold and silver.
- Altar: “They shall build for me an altar of earth, to offer on it the sacrifices of Olah and Shelamim, from your flock and cattle. In every place where I will mention my name I will come and bless you.”
- No metal on stone: If a stone altar is built, it shall not be built from hewed stone, as you have placed your sword on it and defiled it.
- No steps: Do not walk up steps towards my altar
Verses: 118 [Siman:עזיאל ]
Haftorah: Jerimiah 34:8-22, 33:25-26
|Number of Mitzvot:
There are a total of fifty-three Mitzvot in Parashat Mishpatim. Twenty-three positive commands and Thirty negative commands.
A. Positive commands:
1. Mitzvah 42/Positive 15: To adjudicate the law of a Jewish slave [i.e. Eved Ivri] in accordance to the Torah regulations and laws.
2. Mitzvah 43/Positive 16: For the master to marry his Jewish maidservant [i.e. Ama Ivriya].
3. Mitzvah 44/Positive 17: For the master to help the Jewish maidservant [i.e. Ama Ivriya] redeem herself.
4. Mitzvah 47/Positive 18: To adjudicate capital punishment by strangulation [i.e. Chenek] to those liable.
5. Mitzvah 49/Positive 19: To punish one who injures his friend in accordance to Torah law.
6. Mitzvah 50/Positive 20: To adjudicate capital punishment by decapitation [i.e. Sayif/Cherev] to those liable.
7. Mitzvah 51/Positive 21: To adjudicate cases of damage or injury caused by the ox of an individual in accordance to Torah law.
8. Mitzvah 53/Positive 22: To adjudicate cases of damage or injury caused by a pit of an individual in accordance to Torah law.
9. Mitzvah 54/Positive 23: To adjudicate cases of stealing in accordance to Torah law.
10. Mitzvah 55/Positive 24: To adjudicate in accordance to Torah law cases of damage caused by an ox of an individual who ate one’s produce or destroyed it through walking.
11. Mitzvah 56/Positive 25: To adjudicate cases of damage caused by the fire of an individual in accordance to Torah law.
12. Mitzvah 57/Positive 26: To adjudicate cases of damage or loss caused to an item while stored by a custodian who was not paid for his services [i.e. Shomer Chinam] in accordance to Torah law.
13. Mitzvah 58/Positive 27: To adjudicate cases of civil claims [i.e. Toein Venitaan] in accordance to Torah law.
14. Mitzvah 59/Positive 28: To adjudicate cases of damage or loss caused to an item while stored by a paid custodian [i.e. Shomer Sachar], or by a renter, in accordance to Torah law.
15. Mitzvah 60/Positive 29: To adjudicate cases of damage or loss caused to an item while borrowed [i.e. Shoel], or by a renter, in accordance to Torah law.
16. Mitzvah 61/Positive 30: To adjudicate cases of seduction/statutory rape of a virgin [i.e. Betula] in accordance to Torah law.
17. Mitzvah 66/Positive 31: To lend money to a pauper in need.
18. Mitzvah 78/Positive 32: To follow the majority opinion in cases of disputes regarding all Torah matters.
19. Mitzvah 80/Positive 33: To remove a heavy burden from on top of an animal.
20. Mitzvah 84/Positive 34: To disown all the land produce grown in the sabbatical year [i.e. Shmita].
21. Mitzvah 85/Positive 35: To rest from work on Shabbat.
22. Mitzvah 88/Positive 36: To visit the Temple during the festivals three times a year.
23. Mitzvah 91/Positive 37: To bring the first fruits [i.e. Bikurim] to the Temple.
B. Negative commands:
1. Mitzvah 45/Negative 28: Not to sell the Jewish maidservant [i.e. Ama Ivriya] to others.
2. Mitzvah 46/Negative 29: Not to infringe on the rights of the Jewish maidservant [i.e. Ama Ivriya] towards food, clothing, and conjugal rights.
3. Mitzvah 48/Negative 30: Not to hit one’s father or mother.
4. Mitzvah 52/Negative 31: Not to eat the meat of an ox which was found liable for capital punishment.
5. Mitzvah 62/Negative 32: Not to allow a witch to live, and to judge her with death.
6. Mitzvah 63/Negative 33: Not to verbally oppress a convert of the gentile nations.
7. Mitzvah 64/Negative 34: Not to monetarily cheat a convert of the gentile nations.
8. Mitzvah 65/Negative 35: Not to oppress orphans or widows neither in speech or action.
9. Mitzvah 67/Negative 36: Not to demand payment of a loan if one knows he cannot pay it.
10. Mitzvah 68/Negative 37: Not to collect or give interest on/to a loan.
11. Mitzvah 69/Negative 38: Not to curse judges.
12. Mitzvah 70/Negative 39: Not to curse G-d.
13. Mitzvah 71/Negative 40: Not to curse the President, which is the king and head of the Sanhedrin.
14. Mitzvah 72/Negative 41: Not to tithe the produce in the wrong order.
15. Mitzvah 73/Negative 42: Not to eat meat of a Treifa animal.
16. Mitzvah 74/Negative 43: Not to listen to the claims of one side not in the presence of the other.
17. Mitzvah 75/Negative 44: Not to accept testimony of a sinner.
18. Mitzvah 76/Negative 45: Not to follow a simple majority in cases of capital punishment.
19. Mitzvah 77/Negative 46: For a judge not to base his ruling on the opinion of other judges unless he comprehends it.
20. Mitzvah 79/Negative 47: For a judge not to show compassion in judgment on the weak and poor.
21. Mitzvah 81/Negative 48: Not to tilt the judgment of a case against the side of a sinner.
22. Mitzvah 82/Negative 49: Not to give capital punishment for a sin unless valid witnesses testify.
23. Mitzvah 83/Negative 50: For a judge not to take a bribe even if he plans to judge truthfully.
24. Mitzvah 86/Negative 51: Not to swear, or cause others to swear, in the names of idolatry.
25. Mitzvah 87/Negative 52: Not to influence others to serve idolatry.
26. Mitzvah 89/Negative 53: Not to slaughter the Pesach offering on the 14th of Nissan while still owning Chametz in one’s possessions.
27. Mitzvah 90/Negative 54: Not to leave the parts of the Pesach offering, and other offerings, that need to be offered to the altar, until morning. [i.e. Nosar]
28. Mitzvah 92/Negative 55: Not to cook meat and milk together.
29. Mitzvah 93/Negative 56: Not to make a covenant with the seven Canaanite nations.
30. Mitzvah 94/Negative 57: Not to allow idolaters to live in our land.
- The laws of an Eved Ivri/Male Jewish slave:
- His terms of service and release: These are the laws that you shall place before them: When you purchase a Jewish slave [Eved Ivri], he shall work for six years and in the seventh year he is to be freed. If he came alone he is to leave alone, while if he came with a wife he is to leave with a wife. If the slave is given a wife by his master, then she and the children are to remain with the master, while he is to go free.
- If the slave does not want to leave: If the slave states that he enjoys working for his master and does not want to go free, then the master is to take him to the judges and bring him to the doorpost and make a hole through his ear using a peg, and he shall work for him forever.
- The laws of an Ama Ivria/Female maidservant:
- If one sells his daughter as a Jewish maidservant [Ama Ivriya] her conditions of release are not like that of other slaves. She cannot be sold. He is encouraged to marry her, or to have his son marry her, and give her the regular marital rights maintained by a wife. He must provide her with food, clothing, and conjugal rights. If the above is not performed, she shall go free.
- Cases involving injury and homicide:
- Murder: One who hits a man and murders him is to be put to death. If it was unintentional, he is to flee to an area of refuge.
- Hitting one’s parents: One who hits his parents is to be put to death.
- Kidnapping: One who kidnaps a person and sells him is to be put to death.
- Cursing one’s parents: One who curses his parents is to be put to death.
- Injury: One who injures a person is to pay restitution for damages caused.
- Killing a slave: One who kills his slave will be avenged.
- Killing a fetus: One who kills a fetus, shall be penalized.
- If there will be a fatality, then he shall give a life in place of a life. An eye for an eye, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot, a burn for a burn, a wound for a wound.
- Injuring a slave: One who injures the eyes or teeth of a slave is required to set the slave free.
- One’s animal killed: If one’s ox kills a man or woman, the ox is to be stoned and not have its meat eaten, while the owner is to be set free. If, however, the owner knew of the ox’s murderous nature and was warned, then also the owner is to die. If the ox killed a slave, he is to pay 30 Shekalim to the master of the slave, and the ox is to be stoned.
- Cases involving monetary damage:
- Pit damages: If one digs a pit, and leaves it uncovered, he must pay for damages if an animal falls in and dies.
- Animal damages: If one’s ox gores and injures another ox, he is to pay half the damages. If, however, this ox had a history of goring which was known to the owner, the owner must pay for the full damages.
- Stealing animals: If a man steals an ox or sheep and slaughters or sells it, he is to pay restitution of five times the amount of the ox and four times the amount of the sheep.
- Robbing a home: If one catches a burglar in the act of stealing in one’s home, one may kill him.
- A robber who does not have ability to pay restitution, is to be sold as a slave.
- One who steals must pay double the amount of the item he stole.
- Property damage caused by animals: If one’s animal ate the food in another person’s yard, the owner must pay.
- Fire damage: If one’s fire spreads and causes property damage to another, the person who lit the fire must pay.
- Caretaker who lost an object: If a caretaker of an item claims the item was lost or stolen from him, he is to take an oath that he did not take the item. [This applies by a Shomer Chinam-one who was guarding for free, however if he was a Shomer Sechar-guarding for payment, then even] if the item was stolen he must pay for it, although if something happened beyond his control, he is exempt.
- Borrower lost object: If a borrowed item became damaged, the borrower must pay, unless the owner was with him.
- Miscellaneous laws:
- Statutory rape: If one seduces an unmarried virgin, he is to marry her as a wife, and if her father refuses he must pay her father.
- Witches: Do not allow a witch to live.
- Bestiality: One who lies with an animal is to be put to death.
- Idolatry: One who slaughters to other G-ds shall be destroyed.
- Verbal abuse against converts, widows and orphans: Do not oppress a convert, widow or orphan as if you do G-d will hear their cry and take His wrath out on you, turning your wives to widows and sons to orphans.
- Loans: If you lend money to a Jew you may not collect interest on the loan. You may also not press them to pay. If you collect clothing as collateral of a debt, you shall return it by sundown.
- You may not curse a judge or curse a leader amongst your people.
- You shall not delay the tithe produce or the Terumah.
- You are to give G-d your firstborn. The newborn animal is to be given to G-d on the 8th
- Treifa meat: You may not eat meat of a Treifa animal. Rather, throw it to the dogs.
- Laws involving the judicial system:
- Don’t listen to meritless reports.
- Don’t join a false witness in testimony.
- Don’t follow the majority to do evil.
- Do not show compassion in judgment to the weak and poor.
- Miscellaneous laws:
- Returning lost object: Return a lost animal to its owner even if it belongs to your enemy.
- Helping load animal: Help your enemy’s animal unload if it has a heavy burden.
- Do not tilt the judgment of a case against a destitute person.
- Lying: Distance yourself from lying.
- Do not kill the innocent.
- Bribery: Do not take a bribe.
- Do not oppress a convert.
- Shemita/Sabbatical year: Plant your field for six years and in the seventh year, leave your field for the destitute and animals to eat from.
- Shabbat: One shall work for six days and rest on Shabbat, you and your household.
- Do not mention other deities on your lips.
- Aliya Leregel: Celebrate with me three times a year. Guard the festival of Matzot for seven days, eat Matzot, and do not come to see me empty handed. By the festival of harvest and of the gathering [you are also to visit me]. Three times a year, all your males are to come see the face of G-d.
- Do not slaughter my sacrifice over Chametz and do not let the fat of my festive offering remain overnight.
- Bikurim: The first fruits of your lands you shall bring to me.
- Meat and Milk/Basar Bechalav: Do not cook a young animal in its mother’s milk.
- G-d warns the children of Israel to heed the commands of his angel:
- I will send my angel before you, to guide you and guard you on the way to the promised land. Beware not to transgress his words for he will not forgive you. If you obey him, then I will destroy all your enemies. My angel will be sent before you and destroy all the seven nations of Canaan.
- Do not bow to their gods and do not serve them. Destroy their gods and their statues.
- Blessings to be received:
- Serve G-d your G-d and He will bless your bread and water and remove illnesses from amongst you.
- No women will have a miscarriage or be infertile in your land. I will fill the number of your days.
- I will send fear before you, and send the wasp, to drive out all your enemies in the land of Canaan. I will not destroy them all in one year, lest the land become desolate and filled with wild animals, rather I will expel them little by little.
- I will give you borders from the Reed Sea until the Mediterranean.
- Do not make a peace treaty with those nations, lest they remain in your land and bring you to sin, to serve their gods.
- Details of Matan Torah:
- G-d told Moses that he, Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel are to prostrate themselves from a distance. Moses alone is to ascend to G-d, and not anyone else.
- We will do and listen: Moses told all the words of G-d to the nation and they said “We shall do.”
- Building an altar, bringing sacrifices and sprinkling blood: Moses awoke in the morning and built an altar under the mountain and twelve monuments, corresponding to the 12 tribes. The youth were sent to offer sacrifices on the altar for G-d. Moses took half the blood and placed it in a bowl, and the other half he threw onto the altar. Moses then took the Torah and read it to the congregation, and they replied, “Everything that G-d has asked we will do and listen.” Moses then took the blood and sprinkled it on the nation, as part of the covenant.
- Ascending the mountain and looking at G-d: Moses, Aaron and the seventy leaders ascended the mountain and they saw G-d, and that under His feet was a sapphire brick, like the purity of the sky. G-d did not take vengeance against these nobles [even though] they gazed at G-d and ate and drank.
- Moses ascends to receive the Tablets of Stone: G-d told Moses to ascend the mountain and receive the stone Tablets of Stone with the commandments written on them. Moses rose together with Joshua, and Moses ascended the mountain of G-d. He instructed the leaders to remain put until they return, and that in the interim Aaron and Chur would act as the leaders to deal with any issues that occur. Moses ascended the mountain and it was covered by a cloud. Moses remained in the cloud for six days and on the seventh day G-d called him from within the cloud. G-d appeared like a consuming fire on the top of the mountain, before the Jewish people. Moses remained there for 40 days and 40 nights.
 So is followed by Sepharadi communities and Chabad. However, Ashkenazi communities read until verse 7:6 and also add 9:5-6