Thursday, 09 Feb 2023

Written by Matt Turchin

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.