The Temple Institute: Temple Talk: Shvat 22, 5766/February 20, 2006

"Now I know that the L-rd is greater than all gods..."
Exodus 18:11

What exactly did Yitro - Jethro - learn from the happenings at the Sea of Reeds that stood him on his head, inspiring him to abandon a life-long career in idol worship, and declare and acknowledge for all to hear that there is only one true G-d - the G-d of Israel. Teaching from the words of our sages, Rabbi Chaim Richman explores the breadth and depth of this single fascinating verse. G-d's loving kindness permeates His every act toward man, even tempering His harshest chastisements. Were the Egyptians drowned in the sea at the hand of a vengeful G-d, or had they, themselves, taken G-d's outpouring of benevolence, and twisted it into a destructive force, bringing upon themselves their own demise? Yitro observes Moshe sitting in judgment before the entire nation of Israel, and enquires as to what he is doing. Moshe answers that he is teaching G-d's Torah. (Exodus 18:14-15) Yet all this takes place before the Torah has been revealed on Mount Sinai. How is this possible? Hear Hillel Richman's incredible insight, explaining the source of Moshe's Torah knowledge.

Parshat Shkalim: This coming Shabbat we read about the collecting of the half-shekel - machatzit hashekel - (Exodus 30:11-16). What purpose was this poll-tax to serve, and why was specifically a half shekel collected? How was the half-shekel collected in Second Temple times, and why was the announcement concerning its collection proclaimed on Rosh Chodesh Adar - the first day of the month of Adar, six weeks before the Passover pilgrimage?

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