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Thursday, Shevat 18, 5780 / February 13, 2020


This Shabbat we read Parshat Yitro, the Parsha details the story of the Giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. 


Our sages note that this great event should not be viewed as something which happened in the past. Instead, we should constantly feel that we are receiving it today and study it as something new. Through the study of Torah a Jew connects to G-d anew each time.


We recite special blessings each morning, thanking G-d for giving us the Torah.  Blessings are also recited when one is called up ("Aliyah") to the Torah in synagogue. 


Q.  When one is called to the Torah we refer to it as an "Aliyah."  Why is it called Aliyah?


A.   "Aliyah" means "elevation."  In a physical sense, since the Torah is read on a Bimah, which is an elevated platform, one would go up when being called to the Torah, thus it is called Aliyah. In a deeper sense, being called to the Torah is a spiritual elevation.


Although in the Parsha we read about the Ten Commandments, yet, according to our sages, all 613 mitzvot of the Torah are contained and hinted in these Ten Commandments. 


The following parable illustrates this point: A young man in the shtetel (village) wanted to go into the textile business to provide for his family.  Not being familiar with business dealings, he decided to attend the fair in the big city to see how the ways of commerce are conducted.


He went to one of the wholesalers and watched as store retailers entered one after the other to buy material and cloth.  He saw the sellers showing the buyers strips of different kinds of materials, in all kinds of quality and colors.  After inspecting the material, the buyers and sellers would agree on a price. Then the buyers would hand over quite a large sum to the seller to close the deal.


The young man was amazed.  Business looked so easy!  He decided to do exactly as he had seen the store keepers do.  He went out and bought various materials and cut them into many strips.  Then he took a table at the fair and spread out his material.  He was convinced that it wouldn't take him long to become rich.


Merchants approached him, inspected his material and asked for prices.  He quoted them prices like the other wholesalers. When the potential buyers asked when they can pick up the merchandise, he looked at them wonderingly, "What merchandise? These strips are the only merchandise I have."  They laughed at him.


"But the other wholesalers also showed you only strips of material?" he asked. 


They replied, "The strips are only samples of what each wholesaler sells.  He has hundreds and hundreds of yards of each material in his warehouse.  Only a fool would think that all he has are the strips he showed us."


The same is with the Ten Commandments and the Torah.  After the Ten Commandments were given, Moshe stayed on The Mountain 40 days, receiving the rest of the Torah, which he would then teach the people.