Parshas Yisro
{Exodus 18:1 - 20:23}

Placing A Lid On It ©
By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mrs. Ethel Belk, may she rest in peace.

In last week's parsha we discussed flowing with the spiritual, and physical currents as constructed by the Creator of the universe. We compared going against these currents like driving the wrong way against traffic. We suggested, end the struggle with what is natural, try Shabbos observance.

Shabbos, like every experience, has a beginning and an end. Shabbos boundaries begin with sunset on Friday evening and conclude with darkness on Saturday evening. The introduction of Shabbos concludes one week, and the conclusion of Shabbos begins a new week.

Humans struggle with beginnings and endings. We have problems with knowing when to begin / end or where to start / stop.

It's Monday morning. The alarm goes off and off and offfffffff! It's difficult to get up. We're tired! Right now, at this precise minute is the best time for sleeping. We have to get up. We focus... Mo Day Ah Nee... etc. We drag ourselves out of bed...etc. Why? The night before we watched the late movie... We read our favorite book... We got in late from a Sheva Bracha... We worked late... Whatever the reason, our late night has now collided with our sleep time and the morning alarm.

Several cities in the Denver area are addressing the start / stop problem at certain intersections where accidents are frequent, G-d forbid. They installed special cameras that photograph motorists running red lights. The motorists are sent a ticket with their picture running the red light...

Domestic violence is another example of running red lights in our society. Someone crosses a timeout or voids a private time, etc. Flares ignite, G-d forbid. The police are called!

Frequently parents cross boundaries with their adult... married.. children. For whatever reason, parents battle with the separation issue. Children constantly combat control and privacy issues with their parents. On the other hand, parents encounter excessive boundaries with their children.

Our government has employed certain laws regarding sexual harassment because conversations, stares, hands, etc. wander off course, G-d forbid!

Mothers Against Drunk Driving {MADD} who have lost children to drunk drivers, G-d forbid, campaign about the start / stop issues of drinking. If you start drinking you stop driving!

This week we have traveled three months to the day in time from Mitzriam, however we are not that far away in distance. Mitzriam is just one drink away for the alcoholic, one hit / score for the drug addict, one act for the sex offender, one comment by a parent or child, one red light for the motorist, one abuse for the domestic offender, etc... All of us who made the commitment to turn over a new leaf to do shuvah are so close to failure on our path to freedom. Sounds horrible.

From the beginning of Creation in Sefer Bereishis until now, we have only encountered 24 of the 613 mitzvahs in the Torah. In Parshas Yisro we are introduced to 17 new Mitzvahs in just one week. This is telling us it's time to start growing in Yiddishkeit! It's time to develop roots! It's time to stabilize. It's time to begin booking... studying... cramming... As a result, Kal Yisroel travels to Midbar Sinai opposite {east of} the mountain. What mountain? Har Sinai.

It is here at Har Sinai that we learn something about starting / stopping about beginning / ending and about preparing to receive the Torah.

I am about to enter into a real estate agreement {covenant}. I instruct my attorney, the other attorneys, real estate agents and parties: go wash your clothes... abstain from any form of sex for three days, lift your level of holiness, etc. Then we will meet and consummate our deal.

I am about to purchase a car. Again I instruct the owner of the business, the corporate board, the general manager, the sales manager, the auto repair manager, the office staff and every employee: go wash your clothes, abstain from any form of sex for three days, lift your level of holiness, etc. Then we will meet and consummate our deal.

When G-d made His covenant with Kal Yisroel it was with over 3,000,000 people. Over 3,000,000 sanctified themselves in preparation for receiving the Torah. Over 3,000,000 people washed their clothes, over 3,000,000 people abstained from sexual relations. Why? This was not just an acknowledgement, this was not just a commitment, this was the establishment of a covenant. This covenant was not established with one man alone as is the claim by other major religions in the world today.

When G-d gave His Torah it was at the exact same time to over 3,000,000 people. It was not entrusted to one man alone to carry His agreement.

When G-d gave His Torah, over 3,000,000 people experienced it all at the same time as described in this week's parsha. The experience of Torah was not limited to a few pockets of followers.

When G-d made His agreement with Kal Yisroel... every Jewish neshama... the entire Jewish Nation... the Jewish people... those present were required to cleanse their clothing. Every Jewish neshama was required to be spiritually prepared for their meeting with G-d, the Creator of the universe, at the foot of Har Sinai. Everyone was required to abstain from all forms of sex. Everyone was to appear before G-d physically pure / clean and spiritually pure / clean ALL AT THE SAME TIME!

This is unlike anything ever recorded in history. Every Jewish soul from that generation, from former generations and from generations yet to come prepared and stood at Har Sinai. Every Jewish soul signed the agreement with G-d at Har Sinai. Every Jewish soul stood at the foot of Har Sinai. That is why we say OVER 3,000,000. It may have been 50,000,000 or 500,000,000....

In Exodus 19:8 and 24:3 we read Kal Haw Awm meaning "EVERY JEWISH SOUL." This was one agreement that the father could not enter for the son or grandson. Every Jew entered this agreement with G-d individually at the same time at Har Sinai! G-d made one covenant with every Jewish soul and every Jewish soul made one covenant with G-d! Everyone KNOWS that every contract, every agreement and every covenant is founded upon the consent of ALL THE PARTIES INVOLVED! As a result, any possibility of a new agreement at sometime in the future or of a New Testament that voids the established covenant is ludicrous. Such an agreement is IMPOSSIBLE! That is why the New Testament being given by Hashem is impossible. In addition, it is completely out of character with how G-d first established His original and only covenant with Kal Yisroel.

So, each Jewish neshama received the covenant individually at Har Sinai as well as through the inheritance of our forefathers.

In other words, G-d in His wisdom placed a lid on His covenant with Kal Yisroel. There was only one entrance day. There was, if you will, only one sign-up. Only Kal Yisroel were invited to participate. This is the lid, this is the cap, this is the separation. People outside of Judaism are not expected to understand our agreement with G-d just as people cannot fully understand or know their neighbors' legal agreements. There are millions and millions of legal agreements throughout the world which I know nothing about and which you know nothing about. Many of these agreements are locked in safes, vaults and safety deposit boxes to prevent others' access or knowledge of their contents.

Last week, in Parshas Beshalach, we discussed how G-d has given the Shabbos to the Jewish people alone; and today we're expanding that, G-d has given the Torah to the Jewish people alone. The Torah has been carefully and securely placed within the neshama of each Jewish being. As a result, other religions and theological experts cannot truly penetrate or understand in its fullest comprehension what G-d has given only to the Jewish people, no matter how hard they try.

So, when we make a property purchase or buy a new car, we are making a verbal agreement or a written agreement but that agreement is not accented in the same way we made a covenant to receive the Torah. As a result, the covenant between G-d and the Jewish people stands out above all other agreements.

Making an agreement with G-d... entering into a covenant with G-d... required every Jewish soul in the universe both then and now to go through a period of cleansing. It was not as simple as a short confession. It was a planned day that every Jewish neshama prepared for.

Now, at three months in time from Mitzriam as we enter into this wilderness experience, we must first and foremost recognize our individual responsibility for this agreement with the Creator of the universe. It is this agreement, it is this covenant where everything for the Jew begins and ends... starts and concludes!

Some of us want to void the agreement in favor of another agreement. Some of us want to fulfill only parts of our agreement. Some of us want to completely void the agreement. Some of us keep our agreement with Hashem. Now the category we happen to be in affects our experience with Hashem.

A landlord has an agreement with his tenant for a storefront space. The agreement is for twenty years at $500.00 per month. Both have agreed to these terms.

Later the tenant wants to fulfill only certain parts of the agreement... The landlord wants all parts of the agreement fulfilled!

Later the tenant wants to void the agreement in favor of another agreement that the landlord has not pledged to...

Later the tenant wants to completely void the agreement, PERIOD... The landlord wants to continue as agreed to.

Those of us doing shuvah who are turning over a new leaf must ask ourselves, are we in one of these crossways circumstances with Hashem, the other party of our agreement? Are we going against the terms of our agreement with Hashem like a car going against traffic? Do we expect Hashem to place new carpet in our storefront, do special things for us, while we are in default of our agreement?

The purpose of the wilderness experience for us is to deal with and correct the violations of our agreement with Hashem. We must honor the stops and starts, the beginnings and the endings. This is a time of intensive learning.

Other related subjects:

Connecting With the Flow of What is Natural

Rosh Shabbos

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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