Today’s Aliyah

Dvar Torah for Yisro 7th Aliyah

The pasuk says, “If you make for Me an altar of stones, you shall not build them of hewn stones [stones cut by metal]” (20:22). Rashi quotes Rabbi Yishmael, who explains that this “if” is one of three instances in the Torah that means “when.” The other two times the word ְואִם is used to mean “when” is in reference to lending money to those in need, and omer offerings, both of which are mandatory. In that case, why does the Torah use a term that makes it seem optional?

Rav Avraham Wolfson suggests that the way these actions are performed is just as important as the actions themselves. When we erect an altar, lend money, or bring an offering, we should perform it like it was our choice to do it, not as though we are forced. Just one word in the Torah teaches us that performing mitzvos (commandments) and helping others should be done with kindness and compassion.