Yitro, Siman 3 יתרו, ג׳
1 א

וַיִּשְׁמַע יִתְרוֹ. זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב: לְרֵיחַ שְׁמָנֶיךָ טוֹבִים (שה״‎ש א, ג). אָמַר רַבִּי יַנַּאי בְּרַשְׁבִּ״‎י, הָרִאשׁוֹנִים, רֵיחַ שִׁירִים אָמְרוּ לְפָנֶיךָ. אֲבָל אָנוּ כְּשֶׁבָּאנוּ לַיָּם. לֹא הִנַּחְנוּ לָשׁוֹן שֶׁל שֶׁבַח שֶׁלֹּא קִלַּסְנוּ לָךְ. לְכָךְ נֶאֱמַר: לְרֵיחַ שְׁמָנֶיךָ.

Now Jethro heard (Exod. 18:1). Scripture says elsewhere in allusion to this verse: Thine ointments have a goodly fragrance; thy name is an ointment poured forth; therefore do the maidens love thee (Song 1:3). R. Yannai the son of R. Simeon the son of Yohai said: The earlier generations merely chanted pleasant songs before You, but when we reached the sea we left unuttered no words of praise with which to extol You. Hence it is said: Thine ointments have a goodly fragrance.

2 ב

דָּבָר אַחֵר, הָרִאשׁוֹנִים, רֵיחַ מִצְוֹת נָתַתָּ לָהֶם. לְאָדָם נָתַתָּ לוֹ מִצְוָה אַחַת, לְנֹחַ וּלְבָנָיו שֵׁשׁ מִצְוֹת אֲבָל אָנוּ כְּשֶׁבָּאנוּ לְסִינַי, כְּאָדָם שֶׁהוּא מְעָרֶה מִפִּי חָבִית, כָּךְ אַתָּה מְעָרֶה עָלֵינוּ אֶת כָּל הַמִּצְוֹת. שֶׁמֶן תּוּרַק שְׁמֶךָ (שה״‎ש א, ג). רַבִּי בֶּרֶכְיָה אָמַר: שֶׁמֶן מֵאִיר לְמִי שֶׁעוֹסֵק בְּשַׁמְנָהּ שֶׁל תּוֹרָה. עַל כֵּן עֲלָמוֹת אֲהֵבוּךָ (שה״‎ש א, ג), אֵלּוּ אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם שֶׁהֵן בָּאִין וּמִתְגַּיְּרִין. וּמִי הוּא? זֶה יִתְרוֹ, בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁשָּׁמַע כַּמָּה נִסִּים נַעֲשׂוּ לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, בָּא וְנִתְגַּיֵּר. וַיִּשְׁמַע יִתְרוֹ. מַה כְּתִיב לְמַעְלָה, מַפַּלְתּוֹ שֶׁל עֲמָלֵק, וְאַחַר כָּךְ וַיִּשְׁמַע יִתְרוֹ. וַיִּשְׁמַע יִתְרוֹ, זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב: לֵץ תַּכֶּה וּפֶתִי יַעְרִם (משלי יט, כה). לֵץ תַּכֶּה, זֶה עֲמָלֵק. וּפֶתִי יַעְרִם, זֶה יִתְרוֹ.

Another explanation. You gave to the earliest generations only the fragrance of the commandments. To Adam you gave one commandment,3Not to eat of the tree of knowledge. and to Noah and his sons, six commandments,4In fact seven laws were given to Noah. These laws, regarded as obligatory upon all mankind (justice, idolatry, etc.), are collectively designated the Noahide laws. but when we reached Sinai, You poured upon us all the commandments, as men pour ointment from a barrel.5The 613 laws imposed upon Israel at Sinai. Thy name is an ointment (shemen) poured forth. R. Berechiah said: Oil (shemen) is a light to the one who occupies himself with the oil of the Torah.6The word oil is frequently applied to the Torah. Both are sources of light. R. Berechiah points out that the physical light provided by oil is of no avail without the light of Torah. Therefore do the maidens love thee alludes to the people of the world who come and convert. Who was one of these? It was Jethro. After he heard of the many miracles that had been performed for Israel, he came to them and converted. Now Jethro heard. What is written before this? It is the chapter describing the destruction of Amalek, and that is followed by Now Jethro heard. Scripture says elsewhere in allusion to this: When thou smitest a scorner, the simple will become prudent (Prov. 19:25). When thou smitest a scorner refers to Amalek, and the simple will become prudent alludes to Jethro.

3 ג

בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁבָּא עֲמָלֵק הָרָשָׁע לְהִלָּחֵם בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל, מַה כְּתִיב שָׁם, וַיִּלָּחֶם עִם יִשְׂרָאֵל בִּרְפִידִם. מַהוּ רְפִידִם? שֶׁרָפוּ יְדֵיהֶן מִן הַתּוֹרָה וּמִן הַמִּצְוֹת. רְאֵה מַה כְּתִיב שָׁם? וַיִּקְרָא שֵׁם הַמָּקוֹם מַסָּה וּמְרִיבָה. הִתְחִיל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא צוֹוֵחַ לִפְנֵיהֶם, עַד מָתַי אַתֶּם מְנַסִּים אוֹתִי, עַד מָתַי אַתֶּם מְרִיבִין אוֹתִי. וְאַף מֹשֶׁה צוֹוֵח, מַה תְּרִיבוּן עִמָּדִי וּמַה תְּנַסּוּן אֶת ה'.

It is written concerning the time the wicked Amalek came to fight against Israel: And fought with Israel in Rephidim (Exod. 17:8). What is meant by refidim (Rephidim)? It means that rafu yadehem (“their hands become weak”) in the fulfillment of the law and the commandments. Observe that it is written: And the name of the place was called Massah and Meribah (ibid., v. 7). The Holy One, blessed be He, began to rebuke them, saying: How long will ye try Me; how long will ye strive against Me? And so Moses cried out: Why strive ye with me? Wherefore do ye try the Lord? (ibid., v. 2).

4 ד

מֶה הָיוּ מְנַסִּין? רַבִּי יְהוּדָה בַּר נְחֶמְיָה וְרַבּוֹתֵינוּ. רַבִּי יְהוּדָה אוֹמֵר: כָּךְ הָיוּ מְדַיְּנִין וְאוֹמְרִים: אִם מְסַפֵּק לָנוּ מְזוֹנוֹת כְּמֶלֶךְ שֶׁהוּא נִכְנַס לַמְּדִינָה וְהֵם מְקַלְּסִין אוֹתוֹ וּמְכַבְּדִין אוֹתוֹ שֶׁהוּא מַסְפִּיק כָּל צָרְכֵיהֶם, נַעַבְדֶנּוּ. וְאִם לָאו, נִמְרֹד בּוֹ. וְרַבּוֹתֵינוּ אוֹמְרִים: אִם מְהַרְהֲרִין אָנוּ בְּלִבֵּנוּ וִיהֵא יוֹדֵעַ מָה אָנוּ מְהַרְהֲרִין, נַעַבְדֶנּוּ. וְאִם לָאו, לֹא נַעַבְדֶנּוּ. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: הֲיֵשׁ ה' בְּקִרְבֵּנוּ אִם אָיִן, רַבִּי בְּרֶכְיָה אָמַר בְּלִבָּם הָיוּ מְשִׂיחִין וְהַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא נוֹתֵן לָהֶם אֶת שְׁאֵלָתָם שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיְנַסּוּ אֵל בִּלְבָבָם לִשְׁאָל אֹכֶל לְנַפְשָׁם וְגוֹ' (תהלים עח, יח) אָמַר לָהֶן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא: כָּךְ הִרְהַרְתֶּם הֲיֵשׁ ה' בְקִרְבֵּנוּ חַיֵּיכֶם הֲרֵינִי מוֹדִיעַ לָכֶם לְכָךְ וַיָּבֹא עֲמָלֵק,

How did they try Him? R. Judah the son of Nehemiah and the sages differed over this. R. Judah held: They deliberated (amongst themselves) and said: If He supplies us with food, then just as a king is praised and honored by the people when he enters a city, because he satisfies all their needs, so we will serve Him, but if He does not do so, we will rebel against Him. Our sages maintained (that they said to each other): Wė will consider this in our hearts, and if He knows what we are thinking, we will serve Him, but if not we will not serve Him, as it is said: Is the Lord among us, or not? (ibid. 7). R. Berechiah said: While they were still reflecting upon the matter, the Holy One, blessed be He, answered them, as it is said: And they tried God in their hearts by asking for food for their craving (Ps. 79:18). But the Holy One, blessed be He, said to them: You have been asking, Is the Lord among us or not? Be assured, I will let you know. Hence, Then came Amalek.

5 ה

רַבִּי לֵוִי אָמַר: לְמַה הַדָּבָר דּוֹמֶה? לְבֵן שֶׁהָיָה רוֹכֵב עַל כָּתֵף שֶׁל אָבִיו, וְהָיָה רוֹאֶה דָּבָר שֶׁל חֵפֶץ וְאוֹמֵר לוֹ קַח לִי וְהוּא לוֹקֵחַ לוֹ פַּעַם רִאשׁוֹנָה שְׁנִיָּה וּשְׁלִישִׁית. רוֹאֶה אָדָם אֶחָד, אָמַר לוֹ: רָאִיתָ אָבִי. אָמַר לוֹ אָבִיו: אַתָּה רָכוּב עַל כְּתֵפִי וְכָל מַה שֶּׁתְּבַקֵּשׁ אֲנִי לוֹקֵחַ לְךָ, וְאַתְּ אוֹמֵר רָאִיתָ אָבִי. הִשְׁלִיכוֹ מִכְּתֵפוֹ וּבָא הַכֶּלֶב וּנְשָׁכוֹ. כָּךְ הָיוּ יִשְׂרָאֵל. כְּשֶׁיָּצְאוּ מִמִּצְרַיִם, הִקִּיפָן בְּעַנְנֵי כָּבוֹד. בִּקְשׁוּ לֶחֶם, הוֹרִיד לָהֶם אֶת הַמָּן, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיַּמְטֵר עֲלֵיהֶם מָן לֶאֱכֹל וּדְגַן שָׁמַיִם נָתַן לָמוֹ (תהלים עח, כד). בִּקְּשׁוּ בָּשָׂר, נָתַן לָהֶם שְׂלָו, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: שָׁאַל וַיָּבֵא שְׂלָו וְגוֹ' (תהלים קה, מ). וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר: וְתַאֲוָתָם יָבִא לָהֶם (תהלים עח, כט), הוּא נוֹתֵן לָהֶם כָּל צָרְכֵיהֶם, וְהֵן אוֹמְרִים הֲיֵשׁ ה' בְּקִרְבֵּנוּ. אָמַר לָהֶן הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא: כָּךְ הִרְהַרְתֶּם, הֲרֵי הַכֶּלֶב נוֹשֵׁךְ אֶתְכֶם, לְכָךְ וַיָּבֹא עֲמָלֵק.

R. Levi declared: This situation may be compared to a child that is being carried on his father’s shoulders. When he sees something that excites him he calls out: “Father, take me there.” The father carries him to that place, and then to another and finally to a third place, yet the child, on seeing another man approaching them, asks: “Have you seen my father?” His father calls out: “You have been riding on my shoulders, and wherever you wished to go I carried you, yet now you ask ‘Have you seen my father?’” He then put him down. Whereupon a dog rushed at the child and bit him. Similarly, when the Israelites left Egypt, He surrounded them with clouds of glory, and when they wanted bread, He sent them manna, as it is said: And He caused manna to rain upon them for food, and He gave them of the corn of heaven (Ps. 78:24). And when they wanted meat, He gave them quail, as it is stated: They asked and He brought quails (ibid. 105:40). That is why it says: He gave them that which they craved (ibid. 78:29). And though He gave them whatever they demanded, yet they asked: Is the Lord among us or not? The Holy One, blessed be He, said to them: This is what you have been thinking. Therefore, this dog will bite you. Hence, And Amalek came.