January 20, 2019

Rosner’s Torah-Talk: Parashat Yitro with Rabbi Benjamin Samuels

Our guest this week is Rabbi Benjamin Samuels, leader of Congregation Shaarei Tefillah of Newton, Massachusetts. Rabbi Samuels is the President of the Vaad Harabonim of Massachusetts and a member of its Beit Din. He is a Master Teacher at Maayan: Torah Study from the Sources, and an instructor for Meah.  He is a member of Combined Jewish Philanthropies’s and JCRC of Boston’s Board of Governors, and a member of the Maimonides School Board of Trustees. Rabbi Samuels studied at Yeshiva University, where he earned a BA in English Literature; and as a Wexner Graduate Fellow, he achieved an MA in both Bible and Medieval Jewish History from the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies and his rabbinical ordination from Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. Rabbi Samuels is currently a doctoral candidate at Boston University in its “Science and Religion” program.

This week's Torah portion – Parashat Yitro (Exodus 18:1-20:23) – begins with the advice given by Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, to the people of Israel, and continues to tell us about the gathering of the people of Israel at Mount Sinai and about the giving of the Ten Commandments. Our discussion focuses on Moses’ curious relation with Yitro, his non-Jewish father in law.

Our past discussions of Yitro:

Rabbi Norman Cohen on the role of outsiders in the story of the people of Israel

Rabbi Michael Harris on the relation between human morality and divine morality