Parashat Yitro in a Series of Twelve Limericks
Having left Egypt under God’s protection
an Israelite-led insurrection
word reached Jethro the priest
who thought that at least
he should renew his familial connection.
With daughter and grandchildren in tow
he sent word that Moses would know
to come out and meet him
with love he did greet him
recounting what God did bestow.
Said Jethro to his son-in-law
“Why must you alone hold the law?”
grasp the leash not so tightly
appoint chiefs to judge rightly
and let weariness be not your flaw.”
So Moses took Jethro’s advice
with each detail he was precise
appointing chiefs in succession
to rule at their discretion
and for small matters this would suffice.
It was three months since having left Egypt
in the wilderness improperly equipped
friends, here’s an account
from the foot of the Mount
of how each chose to become God’s conscript.
By God’s command Moses arose
saying “Hear now just what I propose:
the Egyptians were beasts
but now you are all priests
so stay pure and please wash your clothes.”
Then in thunder from Sinai God spoke
enshrouded in fire and in smoke
Moses and Aaron ascended
as no other men did
schlepping God’s words as a yoke.
“I’m God but don’t swear in my name
worship others nor Shabbat profane
respect your parents, don’t murder,
cheat, steal nor perjure
or encroach on your neighbor’s claim!”
God’s presence was truly astounding
and these Words gave our ears quite a pounding
so Moses interceded
for what further God needed:
an altar built with a firm grounding.
On that day a covenant was made
which through Moses God had conveyed
though we trembled inside
it could not be denied
that for freedom it was a fair trade.
Yet Revelation was just the prelude
yes, take care lest it be misconstrued
as our covenant grows
remember that we chose
to be part of a developing brood.
So what really happened on that day?
When the Torah recounts the display
our Law keeps evolving
as we keep resolving
to do more than merely ‘obey’.
Matt Turchin LBC Rabbinic student
The views expressed in this D’var Torah do not necessarily reflect the position of Leo Baeck College.