:לדרוש אלוהים – משהו לפרשת יתרו: בעברית בקישור למרכז חדרים כאן:
Six Torah portions out of 54 a are named after someone, one woman (Sarah) and 5 men. One of them is Jethro, Yitro, A Midyanite priest, an eternal spiritual seeker and Moses’ father-in-law. Of all the Torah portions, our sages, perhaps with a smile, chose to name the one Torah portion in which we learn about the Giving of the Law and “The” Ten Commandments, after him. Perhaps it happened “by coincidence”, and perhaps they wanted to ensure that davka here, when we’re taught the particular, we are also reminded of the universal in our Torah.
The Torah portion opens with this description: “Jethro priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard all that God had done for Moses and for Israel His people, how Hashem had brought Israel out from Egypt… (so) Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought Moses’ sons and wife to him in the wilderness, where he was encamped at the mountain of God” (Exodus 18:1-5). The commentators are divided: what did Jethro hear and when did he come? Rashi claims that he heard about “the parting of the Sea of Reeds, and the war of Amalek.” Ibn Ezra disagrees and claims that “he came in the 2nd year, after the Tabernacle… which must be after the Giving of the Torah”.
The truth is that we don’t have to take sides. Either way, there is no Giving of the Torah without Jethro, and there is no Jethro without the Giving of Torah! By combining the Torah portion and its name, our sages taught us one of the cornerstones of our existence and its vision: it’s true that we are called “a people who will dwell alone”, and indeed we have an important and huge need to examine who we are as a people, on our own. But this cannot be done independently from the world. Part of who we are depends on successful cooperation with the other nations, so much so, that if we don’t succeed, everything, perhaps, would have been in vain..
When Jethro watches Moshe judge alone the people day in and day out, he immediately begins giving Moses some advice: ““The thing you are doing is not right; you will surely wear yourself out, and these people as well. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone…. Now listen to me… (Exodus 18:17-23) Jethro goes on to explain Moses how build a stable, proper justice system.
We usually accept Jethro’s advice as wise, coming from a caring place as well as experience in managing and organizing a community, but we must also dare and ask, is it not a bit chutzpadik to tell the “man of God”, who is in daily contact with Hashem, what to do and how to lead His people? The answer to this is that Jethro may have seen himself as the one who raised and educated Moses. If so, for him, while Moses is in charge of the Children of Israel, it is Jethro who is in charge over Moses, and hence, has authority over all the people!
Managing our relationship with world leaders, has been a challenge ever since. Moses here, gives us a good example of how to do this gently and tactfully, while being accepting and also putting boundaries together. On the one hand, he accepts Jethro’s advice, which is good advice in itself (although there is no doubt that Moses, who grew up in Pharaoh’s palace and was exposed to running a large empire, can come to the same conclusions on his own). On the other hand, there is a great chidush (newness) here, which Jethro may not recognize, and which must be protected.
So far, the journey that began with the Exodus from Egypt and the departure from the House of Bondage, has been directed to one goal: the return home, to the Land of our Forefathers & Foremothers (or four-mothers? jk!). Now, at Mount Sinai, this journey takes on another layer: the Torah, its laws and commandments. Suddenly it turns out that the One who created the world and brought us out of Egypt, also cares about how I do business, give charity, treat my family, plow my plot, tie my shoes, make myself coffee on Shabbat… of every detail in my life… Moses’ critical insight is that the people do not come to him merely to solve their personal problems, but to “inquire of G-d” (Exodus 18:15). Perhaps the question of ‘what and how to do’, should be conducted vis-à-vis the Divine in our life.
Shabbat Shalom – שבת שלום