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יִתְרוֹ / Yisro / Yitro Parsha Overview: The Rules of Freedom

This is a basic overview of the parsha story in a “Q&A” format adaptable for kids of any age.  Answers in brackets are traditional responses, from parsha text and midrash.  But be open to anything your child might have to say!

Please see the Vayeishev overview for how we use them in our homeschool!  There are also copywork sheets to go with the weekly parsha… enjoy!

image A lot happened in last week’s parsha – let’s look back:

בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל escaped… (from מִצְרַיִם!)

They were chased… (by the מִצְרִיִים!)

ה׳ split the… (water of the ים סוף, Red Sea, Sea of Reeds!)

 בני ישראל were attacked and  had a war… (with עֲמָלֵק !)


We survived all that!  And now, בני ישראל were safe, walking in theמִדְבַּר  – the desert.

Not many parshiyos have a person in their name!

·         We’ve already read about… (נֹחַ, שָׂרָה, and now יִתְרוֹ )

·         Later on, we’ll read about… (קֹרַח, בָּלָק, פִּינְחָס )

יתרו was צִפּוֹרָה’s… (father), and they came together from… (מִדְיָן ) to meet מֹשֶׁה and בני ישראל.

They brought משה’s two sons:  ( גֵּרְשֹׁםand אֱלִיעֶזֶר)

יתרו heard what happened at the ים סוף and wanted to become… (a גר, convert/Jewish)!


Meanwhile, משה was WAY too busy!

All of בני ישראל were coming to him… (with questions and arguments.)

The lineup to ask משה a question was… (so long!  It took all day to get to see him!)

יתרו told משה he had to choose… (שופטים/judges).  All the judges must be… (צדיקים; people who would judge fairly!)

If the judges didn’t know the answer, then they should… (come to משה).  That way, everybody gets a fair answer.


Just like יתרו’s new rule helped משה, we needed rules to become a מַמְלֶכֶת כֹּהֲנִים וְגוֹי קָדוֹשׁ!

("a nation of priests and a holy people")


בני ישראל were still travelling, and soon arrived at a very special place… (הַר סִינַי!)

ה׳ said to spend three days… (getting ready for מתן תורה.)

Nobody was allowed to go near… (the mountain); משה put… (fences around it to keep them safe).

On the third day, בני ישראל gathered and… (heard thunder and shofars; saw lightning, smoke and fire on הר סיני)


imageAt last, we were ready to hear ה׳’s important message – the עשרת הדיברות/Aseres HaDibros!


 Aseres (עשרת/Aseret) means TEN.  Dibros (דברות/Dibrot) means SAYINGS or MESSAGES. 

These are the TEN things ה׳ told us at הר סיני:

1.        I am ה׳” – he kept His promise and took us out of מצרים!

2.       ה׳ is the most important thing in our lives!

3.       ה׳’s name is special; use it carefully!

4.       Have שַׁבַּת, a holy day every week! 

5.       Honour your parents! 

6.       Do not murder! 

7.       Respect marriage and keep it special! 

8.       Do not take anything that isn’t yours! 

9.       Always tell the truth, especially in court!

10.   Don’t be jealous or want things that aren’t yours!


The עשרת הדיברות are special because we all heard them standing together at הר סיני.


Right away afterwards, ה׳ taught בני ישראל how to build a… (מִזְבֵּחַ/mizbeach/altar).

This is because bringing קרבנות (offerings) is like… (תפילות/tefillos, our davening). 

Building a מזבח helped בני ישראל… (climb up closer to ה׳).

This reminds us of how we should… (think about “climbing” closer to ה׳ when we daven).


There are a lot more rules coming, as we’ll see in next week’s parsha…!