Parshat Yithro 5780: The Merit of Yithro

Shalom Friends;

This week, our Parshat HaShevua, Parsha Yithro is being sponsored by Jonathan and Debbie Sassen and family of Ramat Beit Shemesh dedicated to everyone who returns the s’forim that they use to the Shul’s shelves. To the Sassen family, many thanks for your sponsorship and for your continued kindnesses.

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Please forward to your relatives and friends and encourage them to sponsor a Parshat HaShevua. And please be in contact with me with any questions, or for further details.

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Moshe Burt
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Parshat Yithro 5780: The Merit of Yithro

by Moshe Burt

Our Parshat Yithro opens:

“Yithro, the minister of Midian, the father-in-law of Moshe, heard all that Hashem did to Moshe and to [Am] Yisrael, His people — that Hashem took [Am] Yisrael out of Mitzrayim.” (Sefer Shemos, Perek 18, posuk 1 as rendered to English in “The Sapirstein Edition, The Torah with Rashi Commentary)

We learn that when Yithro had heard all that Hashem had done for B’nei Yisrael, he left Midian with Tzippora and Moshe’s two sons and went to join with the Jews. Sefer Shemos, Perek 18, posuk 9 states “Vayichad Yithro” which Rashi renders as: Yithro “rejoiced” at seeing B’nei Yisrael free of Mitzri bondage, at seeing K’riyat Yom Suf and at B’nei Yisrael’s victory over Amalek.

In previous vorts on Parshat Yithro, we examined how, when and the possible reasons which brought Yithro to want to join with the B’nei Yisrael.

Along with Yithro’s sincere contrition and sincerity of desire to come close to Hashem and to cast his lot with Am Yisrael, as well as his suggestions to Moshe which became the basis for the formation of B’nei Yisrael’s Justice System, his merit of a Parshat in his name and a place amongst Am Yisrael can be traced back as far as Pharaoh’s palace.

Yishai Chasidah’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Jewish Personalities (pages 306-309) cites examples of how Yithro was positioned and merited to express insights to Moshe Rabbeinu which were crucial to the evolution of Torah’s judiciary system:

Three were in the same counsel [in saying, “Come let us deal wisely with them” to Pharaoh Sh’mos Perek 1, posuk 10]…. Yithro, who fled merited to have his descendants sit in the Office of Hewn Stones [the seat of the great Sanhedrin].

“Come let us deal wisely with them” to Pharaoh Sh’mos Perek 1, posuk 10. Reuel, the Midianite answered the king, “Do not raise your hand against them, for their G’d has chosen them since the days of old. Which of the ancient kings who harmed them ever escaped harm? Your father raised Yosef up, and [Yosef] saved the inhabitants of the land of Egypt from famine. Now, if it is good in your eyes, desist from destroying them.” (Yalkut Shimoni, Sh’mos 168)

Chasidah cites the incident of little Moshe’s reaching for the king’s crown while being raised in Pharaoh’s palace:

The Mitzri sorcerers said [other midrashim indicate that it was Bila’am who said:] “We fear that this one who takes your crown and places it upon his own head who is destined to take away your kingdom.” Yithro, who sat among them said, “Test him. Set before him a plate containing gold and glowing coal. If he reaches for the gold, he has understanding, and you will kill him. If he reaches for the coal, he has no understanding and does not deserve the death penalty.” It was brought before Moshe, who reached for the gold, but [the moloch] Gavriel came and pushed his hand [to the coal]. (Sh’mos Rabbah 1:26)

Chasidah then cites Midrash HaGodol on BaMidbar (Perek 10, posuk 30) which gives insight into Yithro’s righteousness, kindness and integrity. After a drought year, Yithro stated;

This has been a year of drought, and I borrowed money which I used to support the poor. If I don’t go and pay my debts, I will be desecrating the Name of Heaven.

Chasidah also cites Yerushalmi Brachot (Perek 2, posuk 8 ) which writes of Yithro and his merit and place among B’nei Yisrael;

When B’nei Yisrael do Hashem’s Will, HaKodesh Borchu searches throughout the world, and if he finds a righteous person among the nations, he brings him and attaches him to B’nei Yisrael. One of the examples given was Yithro.

Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, in his sefer “Unlocking the Torah Text” (Sefer Shemos, Parshat Yithro, pages 132-133)

…Torah’s…. text chooses Yithro, the one individual present at Sinai whose relationship to Revelation most clearly mirrors our own across the ages — an “outsider” who did not personally witness the miracles of Yetziyot Mitzrayim, the parting of the Reed Sea, the defeat of Amalek; a “late comer” whose information concerning Hashem’s revelation is (at least according to most authorities) heard rather than seen.

The text then brackets the narrative of the national Revelation with Yithro’s individual, internal struggle as he decides whether to accept or reject the laws of Sinai, to affiliate with the B’nei Yisrael as they begin their journey, or to return to the known comforts of home [meaning Midian].

Through this focus on Yithro, the Torah foreshdows the personal struggle of each Jew in every generation.

Distant from Sinai, we, too, must decide whether or not to heed Matan Torah’s eternal call; we must determine to what extent we will truly be part of our people’s ongoing journey from Revelation to the end of days.

This struggle, in our times extends not only to those of us in Eretz Yisrael, but to ALL Jews throughout the nations, and particularly to the millions of our brethren in the United States.

May we, the B’nei Yisrael be zocha that our brethren — the refugee families from Gush Katif be permanently settled and be made totally whole — be totally restituted for all that was stolen from them and that the twice expelled families of Amona be restored to their rebuilt homes, at government expense; both due to alt-leftist-agendized, supreme court legalized Yassamnik gunpoint. May our dear brother Jonathan Pollard be liberated and truly free, as Naama Issachar is now free and home — — which can only occur when he is home in Israel and carrying for his ill wife Esther Yocheved bat Rayzl Bracha, and that the MIAs be liberated alive and returned to us in ways befitting Al Kiddush Hashem — as with the return in April, 2019, via Russia, of the remains of Zachariah Baumel, as should the remains of the two chayalim from the Gaza War of five years ago. May we have the courage and strength to stand up and physically prevent the possibility of Chas V’Challila any future eviction of Jews from their homes and prevent Chas V’Challila the handing of Jewish land over to anyone, let alone to enemies sworn to Israel’s and Judaism’s destruction and eradication. May we fulfill Hashem’s blueprint of B’nai Yisrael as a Unique people — an Am Segula, not to be reckoned with as with “the nations” and may we be zocha to see the Moshiach, the Ge’ula Shlaima, as Dov Shurin sings; “Ki Karov Yom Hashem Al’Kol HaGoyim”, the Ultimate Redemption, bimhayrah b’yamainu — speedily, in our time”, — Achshav, Chik Chuk, Miyad, Etmol!!!

Good Shabbos!
Moshe Burt, an Oleh, is a commentator on news and events in Israel and Founder and Director of The Sefer Torah Recycling Network. He lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh.