Archive for parshat Yitro

The Ten Commandments and the concept of goodness

This article was comprised using thoughts from Rabbi’s  Yitzchak Aminov, Akiva Tats, Aharon Goldring, Yossi Biluss, Baruch Dopelt and the wisdom of the Hebrew Alphabet


An event of significant measure to our Jewish nation occurred in this week’s parsha. We got the Torah!!!

The giving of the Torah was done with a tremendous and spectacular public display, with thunder and lightning and all the trimmings that has left  an imprint on generations till this very day.  The Ten Commandments were front and center in the coronation of our receiving the Torah. The whole world stood still as it was recited first by G-d then Moshe.

Interestingly if one goes through the passages of the Ten Commandments one will realize something puzzling. All the letters of the Hebrew alphabet are  present except for the letter  “Tet”   ט . Furthermore in the second version of the Ten Commandments which is found in Devarim (5:6-18) the letter   “Tet” ט,  does appear, “ULEHMA’AN YITAV LACH-and it will be good to you”. Why in this version does the  “Tet” ט  appear and in our parsha it does not?

In order to understand why the  “Tet” ט is missing in the first Ten commandments we have to understand  some basic concepts of letters and words in our Torah.  The Hebrew letters are the building blocks, the foundation of the world. One can understand the essence of a person through his name, which consists of a combination of letters from the alef bet.  We can know many personality traits about an individual through his identity at the brit or, for a girl, at the Aliya’LaTorah reading. Furthermore there is a tradition if someone is very sick an additional name is added.

Every Hebrew name has a mission in life; apparently the individual who is sick has exhausted his mission. Therefore a new name is added to give another purpose, another task to accomplish and perhaps extend his life.  It’s also vital that one has a Hebrew name.

Although it seems like it’s after the fact; we discovered through the secret codes of the Torah, combining different sequences of letters point to significant events in our history. Apparently the Hebrew letters are a powerful tool. One should even try to pray in Lashon Hakodesh-the holy language and pronounce the Hebrew letters.

When the first letter of its kind appears for the very first time in the Torah, the word that it’s associated with is the essence of the letter. So when the first time Tet” ט, appears it is in the word TOV-good (Bereshit 1:4) This shows the letter  Tet” ט, is a general symbol for goodness.

The Sages explain: We know the first Tablets were smashed by Moshe as a result of  the nation sinning with the golden calf. Had the Tablets contained the word TOV, the world would have feared that the smashing of   the LUCHOT-Tablets signified that all TOV-goodness on earth had come to an end. In order to spare mankind the anxiety, G-d omitted the ט     (Baba Kama 55a).  The second Tablets, though, were not smashed and were not brought down in the midst of negative energy and therefore they contained the word Tov.

We learn that each letter came to G-d and asked that they should be the letter representing the Torah.  G-d said to the letter TET, when it approached him with the request, ” There is no need for you to have the initial letter of my holy scripture, because  your essence, goodness, is hidden”.  Where is it hidden?

We mentioned before, the first time we find the word Tov in the Torah it’s referring to  the light, “VAHYA’AR KITOV-and he saw it was good”.  G-d created light on the first day. Later on, the scripture again mentions that He created light on the fourth day. Didn’t G-d create light already? Did G-d create 2 lights?  Yes. The Sages explain that the “first day light” was a magnificent spiritual light that was taken away and hidden.

Later on the word TOV appears again.  The Torah attributes the virtue of TOV-good to the new born Moshe….As we read “VAYAR OTO KITOV WHO-when she (Moshe’s mother) saw that he was good” she hid him three months (Shemot 2:2)) The word TOV is crowned with five crowns in the Torah, symbolizing that the infant Moshe was destined to transmit the 5  holy books, a body of work full of hidden goodness and light, the first light, to Israel.

Why was the TET brought down in the second version in the fifth Commandment, which happens to be ” Respect you Father and your Mother”?

One should know and realize by looking at the tablets in which the Ten Commandments are placed on (found in every synagogue in the world), that one half represents man’s relationship with G-d while the other half represents man’s relationship with his fellow man. If one examines it closely however, one will notice “honoring your father and your mother” is placed in the wrong column; on the side that represents man’s relationship with G-d. Clearly, as far as I’m concerned, parents are humans and they belong on the other side of the tablets. Perhaps the designer thought it would look awkward having six and four placed on the Aron Kodesh (place where you keep the Torahs). Five and five look much better and even; it gives more presence to the Synagogue, especially the well-to-do ones. We learn an important lesson about parents. It’s the obligation and responsibility of the Father and Mother to transmit the Torah to the children. The parents are the trusted chain that G-d empowers to transmit the hidden goodness . For this reason they’re in the same column.

Also, there is an interesting insight by the commentary the Ba’al HaTurim on the difference of the first set of Ten Commandments and the second. However a brief introduction of Gematria has to be presented:

Gematria (Hebrew: גימטריא/גימטריה gēmaṭriyā) is a Jewish system of numerology that assigns a numerical value to a word or phrase, in the belief that words or phrases with identical numerical values bear some relation to each other, or bear some relation to the number itself as it may apply to a person’s age, the calendar year, or the like. The best-known example of Gematria is the Hebrew word Chai (“alive”), which is composed of two letters which  add up to 18. This has made 18 a “lucky number” among Jews, and gifts in multiples of 18 are very common.[1]

The second Tablets contain seventeen words more then the first. The gematria of TOV is seventeen, indicating that the second Tablets relieved man’s fear that goodness has disappeared.