Yitro (Exodus 18:1 – 20:23)

Wow – three weeks in a row of blockbuster Torah portions!  First the Exodus, then the splitting of the sea, and now Revelation, aka the giving of the Ten Commandments at Sinai!

But first, we say hello and good-bye to Jethro (Yitro, whence the name of the portion), who has brought the wife and sons of Moses (whom we never hear about again – Moses is one of those guys totally dedicated to his work) out from Midian, having heard about the Israelites’ successful escape from Egypt.  He sees that Moses is being overwhelmed by trying to be a one-man judicial system and gets him to set up a hierarchical judicial system, with the more difficult issues making their way further up the ladder.  It isn’t stated, but maybe the higher levels were also used to appeal lower court decisions, as we do today. [Digression: I helped win a patent appeal once.  The patent issued as U.S. Patent 8,084,514. The attorney, inventors, and I managed to convince the powers-that-be in the US Patent Office that people making materials for dental applications would not include carbon black as an ingredient (because it’s black – duh), so a reference about ink that the examiner depended on was not relevant.  No joke.  And you wonder why I retired…]  Anyhow, mission and training in delegation accomplished, Jethro goes on his way.

Next, Moses and the Lord try to get the people ready for Revelation. They’ve already had several weeks to decompress from the events surrounding the Exodus.  The Lord now tells Moses to tell the people (19:3-6), that now they have seen what the Lord did to Egypt and bore them away on the wings of eagles; and if they hearken to the Lord’s covenant, they will be a beloved treasure, a kingdom of priests and a holy people.  Moses gives them that message for and then has them spend three days getting ready (e.g., doing laundry, refraining from sex).  They are told what boundaries at the mountain they cannot cross.  And finally, on the morning of the third day, the presence of the Lord descended onto Mount Sinai, and the Ten (or maybe Nine  or some other number) Commandments (or Statements) are announced in the midst of thunder, lightning, fire, smoke, and shofar blasts.  And in spite of the preparation, the people stand back. They are too freaked out to listen to the Lord directly and beg Moses to be their intermediary.

I’ll conclude with some text from a few years ago: “About the eagles’ wings: Nechama Leibowitz reviews several commentators’ takes on this in her book, New Studies in Shemot, vol. 1, pp. 290-302… ‘I bore you aloft on eagles’ wings’ (19:4) is an image of love and compassion, of eagles carrying their fledglings on top of their wings, soaring beyond the earth.  But the words that follow are at least as important:  ‘and brought you unto Myself.’  The Exodus was not so much from as to, i.e., from slavery in Egypt but, more importantly, to the service of God.

Shabbat shalom,




(oldie but goodie, especially since I am at a safe distance)

Corporate Hierarchy

The CEO:

  • Leaps tall buildings in a single bound,
  • Is more powerful than a locomotive.
  • Is faster than a speeding bullet.
  • Walks on water.
  • Gives policy to God.

The Vice Presidents:

  • Leap short buildings in a single bound.
  • Are more powerful than a switch engine.
  • Are just as fast as a speeding bullet.
  • Walk on water if the sea is calm.
  • Talk to God.

Division Managers:

  • Leap short buildings with a running start and favorable winds.
  • Are almost as powerful as a switch engine.
  • Can fire a speeding bullet.
  • Walk on water in an indoor swimming pool.
  • Talk with God if special request is approved.

Department Managers:

  • Barely clear Quanset huts.
  • Lose tug of war with a locomotive.
  • Misfire frequently.
  • Swim well.
  • Are occasionally addressed by God.

Department Supervisors:

  • Make high marks on walls trying to leap tall buildings.
  • Are run over by locomotives.
  • Can sometimes handle a gun without inflicting personal injury.
  • Dog paddle.
  • Talk to animals.


  • Run into buildings, face first.
  • Recognize locomotives two out of three times.
  • Are not issued ammunition.
  • Can stay afloat with a life jacket.
  • Talk to walls.


  • Fall over doorsteps when attempting to enter buildings.
  • Say, “Look at Choo Choo”
  • Wet themselves with water pistols.
  • Play in mud puddles.
  • Mumble to themselves.

The Department Secretary:

  • Lifts tall buildings and walks under them.
  • Kicks locomotives off the tracks.
  • Catches speeding bullets in her bare teeth and eats them.
  • Freezes water with a single glance.
  • IS GOD.

Submitted By: Melissa Moran
Jul 15, 1997 19:39



An attorney passed on and found himself in Heaven (obviously not a family law lawyer), but was not at all happy with his accommodations. He complained to Saint Peter, who told him his only course of action was to appeal. The lawyer immediately appealed and was told it would take 3 years to hear his appeal. The attorney protested that this was unconscionable, but to no avail.

The lawyer was then approached by the devil who told him that he could have the appeal heard within a few days if the lawyer would change the venue to Hell. When the lawyer asked why appeals were heard so much sooner in Hell, he was told “We have all the judges.”

Two duck hunters ran into one another early one morning. One of them noticed that the other’s dog was just sitting there, who no interest in retrieving any of the fowl his master downed.

The first hunter asked, “What’s wrong with your dog? The last time I saw him he was one of the best bird dogs I’d ever seen!”

“Well,” the other hunter replied. “His name’s Lawyer. He used to run all over creation working hard and getting the job done. The one day, someone made the mistake of calling him Judge. Now all he does is sit on his a** and bark.”



7 late-night jokes about the Supreme Court

by Brett M. Decker | Posted on June 27, 2013 12:51 am

Here are seven jabs at the nine unelected jurists who rule the land:

  • “The Supreme Court won’t hear an appeal from a group of Native Americans who think the name of the NFL’s Washington Redskins football team is offensive. To be fair, the high court also refused to hear an appeal from a group of Redskins fans who think their team’s play is offensive.
  •  “Well, the big story is the Supreme Court. President Obama has found his nominee. She is a federal appeals judge. Sonia Sotomayor, I think her name is. A Latino woman, how about that? So, you know what that means: Ruth Bader Ginsburg no longer the hot chick on the court.” – Jay Leno
  •  “The Supreme Court ruled users of an ineffective anti-pregnancy drug could sue, but only if they haven’t already claimed their baby as a tax deduction.”
  •  “President Bush said the job of the Supreme Court was extremely important because these are the people we choose to pick the next president of the United States.” – Jay Leno
  •  “President Bush was asked how he came up with a conservative like Alito, and he said he got the idea over the weekend while turning the clocks back.” – Jay Leno
  •  “The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that California must reduce its prison population by 33,000 inmates. The bad news is some hardened criminals could be released. The good news: The Oakland Raiders will be getting back some key players.”
  •  “How many Supreme Court judges does it take to change a light bulb? Just one; he holds the bulb still and the world revolves around him.”

Brett M. Decker is Editor-in-Chief of Rare. Follow him on Twitter @BrettMDecker



tph 10commandments 1st draft



(with light corrective editing)

Top Ten Things We’d Probably Complain about if Revelation at Sinai Happened This Week 
by Weekly Bang Staff Posted: 05-20-2010(Viewed 1708 times)
(with light corrective editing)

10. No cell-phone service at Sinai
9. Weather.com predicted sunny not thunder and lightning for Sinai desert
8.  No TIVO for the “Real Housewives of Egypt County” season finale
7.  Luchot* insurance ads don’t involve geckos or cavemen
6.  Not enough PortaPotties for 600,000 people
5.  GPS keeps saying “recalculating route” to Israel
4. Elena Kagan not able to participate in Yisro’s judicial system
3. BP oil spill ruined the drinking water
2. No hechsher** on the Manna
1. 3 days ain’t enough time to confirm all the “Maybes” on the Facebook invite

*The Tablets

** Kashrut supervision mark


All of the fuss about posting the Ten Commandments on or in public buildings seems to assume they were originally written in English; no one seems to realize what they see is a translation.  I’ve had to deal with translations in the past, even instances where a text had been translated into one language and later back into the original language.  So I wondered what a Google translation of Hebrew text of the Ten Commandments would look like.  I used the text at http://thetencommandmentsministry.us/ministry/translation-10-commandments-hebrew-greek-english :

And God spoke all – these things , saying,
I am the Lord your God who took you out of Egypt :
Not be – you other gods – over :
Will not do – you sculpture | all – in heaven | above or on the earth
No – they worship and Tabdm that I am the Lord thy God, a jealous God visiting the iniquity
Thabet on – sons – third and – quarters of the transformer :
And kindness to thousands lovers and preservers my commandments :
You shall not take the – there – the Lord thy God in vain that sucked the Lord that which – bear
The – name in vain :
Remember – the Sabbath day to keep it holy :
Six days shall process and do all – your work :
And the seventh day the LORD thy God is not – will do – craft you |
And son – and daughter servant and handmaid and your cattle and your stranger that is within thy gates :
That the six – days the LORD made – heaven and – the land – sea
And – all – who – in them, and rested the seventh day – therefore the LORD blessed the – Saturday
And sanctified it :
Honor – father and – your mother, you may live long in the land which – LORD
Thy God giveth thee :
Thou shalt not kill :
Do not commit adultery :
You shall not steal :
Not – answer your neighbor to false:
Not Thmd not your neighbor’s house – Thmd your neighbor’s wife and worked and validate ox and ass
All that is thy neighbor

That’s actually much better than the Google translation of the Greek Septuagint version into English. 



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