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Before the accounting of Matan Torah and Kabbalas HaTorah, the Torah relates the story of Yisro.

What brought Yisro?

Did Yisro come because he heard about Krias Yam Suf or because he heard about Matan Torah. In other words did he come before or after Matan Torah?

There is a popular Jewish folktale of a melamed who was teaching his students Parshas Yisro and he explained that Yisro was the Galach, priest, of Midian and was also the Shver, Father in law of  Moshe. One bright student immediately asked if Yisro was a priest how did he have a son-in-law? The Melamed thought long and hard and finally answered “This happened before Matan Torah!”

We know that before Matan Torah, the Jewish people were considered like Bnei Noach and therefore were only commanded to keep the Seven Mitzvos of Bnei Noach. However, there is a tradition that the Avos kept the whole Torah, even before it was given.

According to Chazal (Sanhedrin 56b) even when the Jewish people were in Marra, before Mt. Sinai, they were already instructed on many laws such as Shabbos and Kibbud Av and already in Egypt they were commanded regarding the Korban Pesach and the Mitzvah of Mila. Similarly, many of the Klalim mentioned in the 10 Commandments are already included in the 7 Noahide laws.

It seems that Hashem brought us to Kabbalas HaTorah through a gradual process. very much the same way converts come to judaism . The Rambam says  that we must teach  converts slowly so as not overwhelm them.

Even after Har Sinai, and Naaseh V’Nishma, Moshe spent 40 years teaching the nuances of Torah in order to confidently say ולא נתן יהוה לכם לב לדעת ועינים לראות ואזנים לשמע עד היום הזה.

Chazal (Avoda Zara 5b) derive from here that a student cannot properly understand his teacher until after 40 years. Only then will he be able to properly understand what was taught in the previous 40 years.

Rav Berel Wein suggests that until this period of 40 years was over and the torah was fully ingrained within them it was still considered “Lifnei Matan Torah”.

This explains the famous advice of Shlomo Hamelech in Mishlei, “Chanoch L’Naar Al Pi Darko”, we need to ingrain the Torah into our children, according to the individuality of each individual child.

Yisro came before Matan Torah so that he too can learn the Torah in the correct manner. Indeed, Yisro’s advice to Moshe was  to let others be in charge of the ingraining process, while Moshe learns Torah from Hashem.

The Avos were on such a high level that they did not need to go through this process, for them it was an innate feeling.

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Chazal (Nedarim 22b) state that if not for the sins of the Jewish people we would only need the 5 books of Torah and Sefer Yehoshua. This is very puzzling!

It seems that there is a concept of Yeridas HaDoros. The Avos kept the Torah in its totality, as they innately knew the Torah on their high level.  As we descended from these lofty levels during the years in Egypt, we needed a gradual process until Matan Torah to re-connect us with the Torah. As we sinned, we needed more and more Torah (in the form of Nach), and this continues with Torah ShBaal Peh up until today. This serves to help us attempt to come to an understanding of the torah of the Dor HaMidbar and furthermore to the Torah that the Avos innately felt, but could not express.

May we merit that through the Torah of “ After Matan Torah”, we should be able to reclaim the Torah of “Lifnei Matan Torah” and bring about a completion  of לתקן עולם במלכות שד’י.

 

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