Parshas Yisro-Summary of the Parsha

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Parshas Yisro

Pesukim: 72 [Siman:יונדב]

Haftorah: Yeshayahu 6:1-13[1] 

Number of Mitzvos:

There are a total of Seventeen Mitzvos in Parshas Yisro. 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 Shabbos 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 Hashem.

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 Melacha on Shabbos, 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.


  1. Yisro and family arrive:
  • Yisro, and Moshe’s wife/kids travel to him: Yisro the priest of Midian, the father-in-law of Moshe, heard all that Hashem did for Moshe and the Jewish people in taking them out of Mitzrayim. Yisro took with him Tzipporah, Moshe’s wife, and her two sons Gershom and Eliezer.
  • The names of Moshe’s sons: Gershom was named after the fact that Moshe lived in a foreign land, and Eliezer was named after the fact that Hashem helped Moshe and saved him from the sword of Pharaoh.
  • The meeting and subsequent meal: Yisro and family arrived at the desert, by Mount Sinai. Moshe went out to greet them after Yisro informed him of their arrival. They exchanged greetings and Moshe told Yisro all that occurred in Egypt and after their escape. Yisro rejoiced from hearing all the things Hashem did for the Jewish people, having saved them from the hands of Egypt. Yisro blessed Hashem, thanking Him for what He did, and exclaiming that now he knows that Hashem is greater than all deities. Yisro then brought offerings to Hashem, and Aaron and all the elders of the Jewish people sat for a meal with Yisro.



  1. Yisro advises Moshe how to smoothly run the court system:
  • Yisro witnesses a burdensome judicial system: The next day, Moshe sat to judge the nation, from morning until evening. Yisro witnessed all that Moshe 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. Moshe responded that he is judging the nation and teaching them the laws of G-d. Yisro 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.
  • Yisro’s advice: “Now” says Yisro “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.”



  • Moshe listens to the advice: Moshe adhered to Yisro’s advice in all that he said. Moshe appointed men of valor from amongst the nation, and made them leaders upon the people. They judged the nation at all times, only brining Moshe those cases that are too difficult for them to arbitrate.
  • Yisro leaves: Moshe sent off his father-in-law and he returned to his land. 



  1. Bnei Yisrael arrive on Har Sinai:
    • In the third month after Bnei Yisrael left Egypt, they arrived to the Sinai desert on that day. They traveled from Refidim and reached Midbar Sinai, and they encamped in the desert opposite the mountain. Moshe ascended to G-d, and Hashem 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.”


  1. Moshe tells the nation of the covenant offered by Hashem and the nation responds:
  • Moshe summoned the elders of the nation and explained to them all that Hashem commanded him.
  • The reply of the nation: The entire nation answered in unison and said “That which Hashem spoke we shall do.” Moshe reported their answer back to Hashem.
  • Moshe relates the response to Hashem: Hashem told Moshe 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. Moshe then told Hashem the nation’s response.
  1. Hashem’s instructs Moshe to instruct the Jewish people in preparation for the event:
    • Hashem told Moshe 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 Hashem will descend on Har Sinai and appear to the eyes of the entire nation.
    • Setting boundaries: Hashem told Moshe 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.
    • Moshe descended from the mountain and the nation was sanctified and they washed their clothing. Moshe instructed them to be ready for the 3rd day and not to be with a woman until then.
  1. The Third Day-Hashem appears on Har 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. Moshe escorted the nation to greet Hashem, and they stood under the mountain. The mountain was filled with smoke, as Hashem descended upon it with fire. The entire mountain trembled, and the sound of the Shofar grew continuously louder. Moshe spoke and Hashem would respond to him in a voice.



  • Moshe warns the Jewish people and ascends the mountain: Hashem descended onto the top of the mountain of Har Sinai and called onto Moshe to ascend, and Moshe ascended. Hashem told Moshe to descend back below and warn the nation [not to come close to the mountain] lest they die. Then Moshe and Aaron are to ascend back onto the mountain although the priests and the people are to remain below, lest they die. Moshe descended to the nation and told them.
  1. The Ten Commandments:

Hashem spoke all these words saying:

  • I am Hashem 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 Mitzvos.
  • Do not recite Hashem’s name in vain.
  • Remember the Shabbos 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 Hashem created the heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in it, and on the seventh day he rested. Therefore He blessed the Shabbos 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.


  1. 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 Moshe to speak to them instead of G-d, lest they die. Moshe assured them not to worry, and that this was done simply to intimidate them against sinning. Moshe then approached the fog, where G-d was staying.
  1. More instructions of Mitzvos:
    • Idols: Hashem instructed Moshe to tell the Jewish people that they have readily seen that Hashem 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 Shlamim, 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


[1] So is followed by Sepharadi communities and Chabad. However, Ashkenazi communities read until verse 7:6 and also add 9:5-6

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