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Let the carob tree prove!

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“Every man is a quotation from all his ancestors”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Never was there a more profound moment not just in Jewish history but arguably in humankind than the Divine Revelation witnessed by the Jewish Nation as they stood at the foot of Sinai. Cloaked in thunder and lightning, humankind heard first-hand the word of G-d. Yet, the Parsha commences with an unusual preface.

The precursor to that momentous moment seems out of place at best or redundant at worse. The portion announces Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, arriving on the scene and immediately observing Moses sitting morning to night adjudicating disputes.

Jethro instructs Moses to establish a hierarchical judicial system. Perhaps even more baffling is Moses’ response, not a murmur of complaint; instead, he immediately takes the constructive criticism and sets about implementing Jethro’s suggestion immediately.

The commentators disagree as to the correct placement of the portion for some this was immediately prior to the giving of the Torah, with that in mind we may wonder what would be the point of Moses going to great lengths to establish a new judicial system if, in a matter of days, the Torah would be given, and a new order would naturally come into force. On the other hand, for those commentators that are of the persuasion that this portion is out of chronological sync, and in fact, it occurred after the giving of the Torah. If so, Moses would certainly not need suggestions as to how to establish a judicial system since he would have the guidance from the Torah itself.

What was the significance of this portion as an introduction to the giving of the Torah? There are two episodes in the oral tradition that will offer us a fresh perspective.

The Talmud in Bava Metzia 59a is discussing a legal question relating to the........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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