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Parshas Yisro


The Alter Rebbe
“I am Hashem your G-d (Elokecha).” The word “I” indicates G-d’s essence, which is beyond any description or name. G-d’s essence is drawn into the souls of the Jewish people until it becomes “Elokecha” (your G-d), that is, “your strength” and “your life-force.”

This manifestation (hamshacha) is through the Divine name YHVH, which alludes to the four stages needed in bringing down G-dly influence from above to below. Y (Yud) [the smallest of the Hebrew letters] symbolizes constriction (tzimtzum), [the first] H (Hei) [which has three sides] symbolizes expansion (hispashtus), V (Vav) [a vertical line] symbolizes drawing down G-dly influence (hamshacha), and the final H (Hei) symbolizes receiving the influence.

(Torah Ohr)


The Mitteler Rebbe
Our Sages tell us that all souls were present at the Giving of the Torah [even those souls which were not in bodies at the time]. The question is: what purpose was there in that — when the soul was not in a body — maybe [later, when it is incarnated] the body will prove to be a hindrance?

The explanation is that accepting the Torah made the souls of the Jewish people receptive to G-dliness, and that even [later, when they come down into bodies] their souls will get excited about G-dliness. It was this power that was given at the Giving of the Torah.

(Maamarei Admur HaEmtza’i, Hanachas 119)



The Tzemach Tzedek
“And the entire nation saw the thunder.” Rashi: they saw that which is heard.

Generally speaking, physical creations see physicality and hear spirituality. But at the Giving of the Torah, when the evil [from the time of the eating from the Tree of Knowledge] within them ceased, spirituality was revealed and the sense of an independent physical existence was nullified. The regular state of things was turned around. Accordingly, they saw that which is [only] heard (spirituality) and only heard that which is seen (physicality).

(Ohr HaTorah Shmos)


The Rebbe Maharash
“And G-d spoke ... ‘I am Hashem your G-d who took you out of the land of Egypt.’” This is one of the constant mitzvos, as it says, “I place Hashem before me constantly” (Tehillim). How is it possible for limited man to fulfill an unlimited mitzva?

The answer to this is based on a saying in the Zohar, which says: “There are three interconnected knots: Hashem, the Torah, and the Jewish people. Each of them [contains] levels upon levels, concealed and revealed [levels].” Chassidus explains that the inner [concealed] aspect of Yisroel connects us to the inner [concealed] aspect of Hashem, and from there the strength is derived to fulfill even the unlimited mitzva of “I am Hashem.”

(Toras Shmuel 5634, p. 127)



The Rebbe Rashab
“And the entire nation saw the thunder and the lightning…” The fact that thunder and lightning accompanied the Giving of the Torah seems puzzling. Since most of the Ten Commandments — such as “do not murder” and the like — were rather obvious, why was there the need for such a noisy spectacle?

What was unique about the Giving of the Torah was that the highest lights were drawn down to the physical world. Furthermore, it is particularly in physical things that the revelation of the Divine Essence takes place.

Since this is a tremendous wonder — the fact that the higher the light the lowest it descends — it is, therefore, appropriate that there should be thunder and lightening. This explains why thunder and lightning accompanied such ordinary matters, for it is the very fact that they are ordinary that draws the Divine Essence into them.

(Seifer HaMaamarim 5678 p. 164)


The Rebbe Rayatz
“I am Hashem your G-d Who took you out of the Land of Egypt”: “Hashem” (YHVH) — which means “was,” “is,” and “will be” as one — is the aspect of G-dliness that is above nature. Whereas “your G-d” (Elokecha) — Elokim, which is numerically equivalent to “ha’teva” (nature) — is the aspect of G-dliness that is clothed within nature.

“Hashem your G-d” — the nature of every Jew is G-d as He is above nature ... Thus every Jew has the ability to rise above all obstacles and to break through the bonds of nature — “Who took you out of the land of Egypt.”

(Seifer HaMaamarim 5707 p. 213)


The Rebbe MH”M
“Remember the Shabbos day to sanctify it.” Rashi: “remember” and “keep” were said in unison (b’dibur echad). The Alter Rebbe had a Chassid who was very simple. He may not even have known the meaning of the words, including the parts of the prayers where this is required. Nevertheless, he davened three times a day at great length.

The Chassidim were amazed by his davening and asked him what took so long. The Chassid replied: [While davening] I remember what I heard from the Rebbe about “‘remember’ and ‘keep’ were said in unison”: with every single word it is necessary to “remember” and “keep” the “unity” of G-d (echad).

(Likkutei Sichos vol. 14 p. 224)



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