According to the kabbalists, the Ten Commandments—or as literally translated, the Ten Utterances—were not orders that God gave the people as a way of dictating what they could and could not do. Instead, they represent the totality of the spiritual tools and energy given by the Creator to all of humanity. The Ten Utterances contain the power to overcome chaos in all areas of our lives. Why? Because when we connect with spirituality, we connect with a force that transcends the limitations of the physical world.
So with such power in this week’s reading, why is the portion called “Yitro”? Who was this person Yitro that his portion should contain such immense Light as the Revelation of the Ten Utterances on Mount Sinai?
It is written that Yitro was initially a channel for negativity, a master of all the various forms of magic that existed at the time. There wasn’t a star in the sky that he didn’t know or a constellation whose movement he couldn’t calculate.
Eventually, however, after hearing of the miracles and victories of the Israelites under the leadership of Moses, Yitro became so certain of the power of the Light that he decided to devote himself fully to the path of transformation.
It is said that when a person who has spent his life dedicated to negativity decides, “This is not my way anymore; I will not be a participant in this kind of life. I will devote my life to understanding the ways of the Creator, and I will change my ways to be more like Him,” there is a tremendous amount of energy granted him.
This is why Yitro was the highest elevation of spiritual energy of the negative side that existed at that time. Why he merited having the Ten Utterances in his portion is because of his complete desire and willingness to be a channel for the Light of the Creator.
So what does this mean for each of us in our own life? Essentially, we are reminded this week that the only reason we are given anything in this world—a position, knowledge, talents, or gifts—is so that we create something positive for our community, the world, and ourselves.
Recently, I read about a lieutenant in the U.S. army who, while deployed in Afghanistan, started to teach the local women how to use water filters. I also read about a well-educated businessman who is using his education and skills to help artisans in Nepal sell their goods internationally. Both of these individuals found themselves in a socially elevated position, and both of them are using their gifts as a platform for sharing.
This week, we have the opportunity to learn from Yitro—to open our eyes, to learn to think a little bigger than the “I” because the “I” is the ego.
The real power comes when we are able to say,“My Creator, please help me be a messenger and channel for You.”