Parshas Yisro
Exodus 18:1 - 20:23

Yisro: The Torah Observant Convert ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of mysticism in Hebrew Gematria is dedicated in the loving memory of Dr. Karen Berland, may she rest in peace.

Our sages say that Parshas Yisro was added in honor of Moshe's father-in-law. This parsha named after Yisro expresses his wisdom and powerful contribution to our system of justice in the Torah. Yisro was a man who understood government, politics and justice. He was Priest of Midian. He was a consultant to Pharaoh. And then he was an advisor to Moshe our teacher. Yisro was a convert to Judaism. He was a former spiritual leader of Midian. It is for these reasons and others that this week's parsha was named after him. In fact within our Torah there are only a few Parshos named after people: Noach, Chayei Sarah, Yisro, Korach, Balak and Pinchas. Now, holy reader, one can already begin to sense how very special Yisro is.

We are informed that Yisro had seven names: Re'uel, Yesser, Yisro, Chovev, Chever, Keini and Putiel.

Yeser: meaning abundance, surplus, excess. It was from the essence of this name that "Yeser" made this powerful contribution to the Torah. We see a special connection to his gift in the Gematria of his name.

610 =
Reish 200 Sav 400 Yud 10

Notice that the name Yeser is a relative to the Gematria 609 and 611. The Gematria 611 represents "Torah".

611 =
Hey 5 Reish 200 Vav 6 Sav 400

This is significant because it tells us how close Yeser lived to the Torah before his conversion. It is also special because the letter Vav was added to his name. The letter Vav is a connecting letter in our language. It connects letters, words, sentences, paragraphs, thoughts, etc. Here the letter Vav represents a connection from Yeser to Yisro to the Torah! The Vav also represents a connection that a non Jew makes when he / she converts to Judaism. The non Jew receives a Hebrew name. The letter Vav is added to Yeser after his conversion thus becoming Yisro. In other words, it is somewhat comparable to adding the letter Hey to Torah. When we add the letter Hey to Torah it represents an article. So Torah becomes "The Torah." We now compare the Gematria of Yisro with "The Torah." Both are 616.

616 =
Vav 6 Reish 200 Sav 400 Yud 10

616 =
Hey 5 Reish 200 Vav 6 Sav 400 Hey 5

The Gematria 616 expresses the full acceptance of "The Torah" by Yesser who after his full acceptance of "The Torah" became know as Yisro. How fitting for the man who contributed our system of justice to our Torah!

In addition to this, the Gematria 616 is "MYSTICAL" in the sense that it represents acceleration, the increase, the uplifting of one's day. We see this in the Gematria Godal of Yom, meaning "Day". The normal Gematria of "day" is 76 but when we accelerate the day, when we elevate the day, the normal Gematria transcends to Gematria Godal 616! Our day takes on a "GREATNESS". Can one think of a higher form of elevation than the day one converts or returns to Torah observance?

Yom {day}
76 = Mem 60 Vav 6 Yud 10

Yom {day} Gematria Godal
616 = Mem 600 Vav 6 Yud 10

One should notice the symbolic place that Parshas Yisro begins, Chapter 18 representing Chai {"LIFE"}... that is, the new life of Yisro!

This past week we received a request that I would like to share with you. It helps explain the great significance of a Jew's Hebrew name. The names have been changed:

I am searching for assistance.
I am preparing to officiate at a funeral of a sixteen year old girl named A....
How would her name read in Hebrew characters?
I believe this spelling in the order of worship would help her family, and thank you in advance for any help.
Thank you,

We responded:


Shalom K...,

We feel sorrow for your loss, but the name A... {may she rest in peace} is not of Hebrew origin. It is of English origin, meaning powerful and prosperous. There are many possible transliterations for the name A....

However,it would be improper for us to do as you have requested. In Judaism names are sacred. Hebrew letters are the spiritual foundation for Hebrew names that represent the essence of what a person is and will be in this life {not death}.

For us to assign Hebrew letters to the name and sound of A... would be disrespectful to this young woman and her family. The letters would not agree with the English meaning. In fact the transliteration of A... into Hebrew may have no meaning or an improper meaning. The transliteration would certainly disagree with the English meaning and intention for her name. With all due respect, we just cannot do this!

If we were to translate the definition of A...'s name, meaning powerful and prosperous, into Hebrew it would not be a proper name and it would not be pronounced the same. It is for this reason many Jews have both a Hebrew name and an English name. If the young lady is Jewish please tell us her Hebrew name. We would be happy to provide you with the spelling of her Hebrew name.

Again we are truly sorry for your loss.


Ben Silverman
Associate Editor

Holy reader, B'nei Yisroel had fallen to the 49th level while they were captives in Mitzriam. They were only one level from the very lowest level. They almost reached the place where they may have crossed the line that we spoke of in our study of Parshas Bo, entitled Remembering. We asked the question: "[The] point is, Can a Jew cross the line? Can a Jew reach a place where there is no point of return? Where S H U V A H does not exist?" Our sages say there were three reasons they did not fall to the lowest level which may have prevented their return. One of those reasons was that they kept their Hebrew names. They used their Hebrew identity!

May each of us make our connection to "The Torah" as Yisro did!

Best wishes!

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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