Summary of Parshat Yitro
Parshat Yitro (Exodus 18:1-20:23) begins with Moses' father-in-law, Yitro, arriving at the Jewish people's camp in the desert, where he is greeted warmly by a large entourage. Yitro was inspired to join them when he heard about the wonders and miracles which Hashem performed for the Jewish people during the exodus from Egypt. Upon witnessing Moses serving as the people's sole judge from dawn until dusk, Yitro declares that this system will never work. He therefore suggests that subordinate judges be appointed to adjudicate the lower cases. Moses agrees to this plan. The Jewish people arrive at Mt. Sinai and prepare to receive the Torah. Moses ascends the mountain and Hashem tells him to convey to the people that they will be to Him a treasure from amongst the nations. After three days of preparation, the appointed moment of revelation finally arrives, and amidst thunder, lightning, and the sound of the shofar, Hashem descends upon the mountain and proclaims the Ten Commandments. Moses then ascends the mountain to receive the remainder of the Torah from Hashem, both the written and oral segments, and the portion concludes with several mitzvot dealing with the construction of the altar in the Temple.
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