A Change Is In Order
By Rabbi Shlomo Jarcaig
Of the many great tzaddikim (righteous people) the Torah introduces to us,
very few are given the honor of having the an entire parsha named for them.
Not only was Yisro (Jethro) given the honor of the name of the parsha, but
also he was given the parsha that contains the miraculous event of the
Giving of the Torah at the Revelation at Sinai, the most important event in
the history of the world. What was Yisro's great deed that merited him such
a great honor? What lesson is the Torah teaching us by attaching his name to
"Yisro, the minister of Midian, the father-in-law of Moshe, heard everything
that G-d did to Moshe and to Israel, His people - that G-d had taken Israel
out of Egypt." (Shemos/Exodus 18:1) Rashi, quoting the Talmud (Tractate
Zevachim 116b), explains that Yisro was inspired specifically by the
miracles of the Splitting of the Sea and War with Amalek. While both of
these events were common knowledge to the world community, Yisro gleaned
from these miracles the truth of G-d's mastery over the universe. Thus, he
traveled to the desert, abandoning his position as priest of Midian, to join
the Jewish nation; nobody else made that move.
Rabbi Yechezkel Levenstein (1884-1974; "Reb Chatzkel", as he was known, was
the mashgiach/spiritual mentor of two of the most illustrious Yeshivos in
the world, Mir (Poland) and Ponovezh (B'nai Brak, Israel)) expounds upon
this point that in our own lives we often hear statements we intellectually
understand to be true but are emotionally unwilling to make the lifestyle
changes these truths would mandate. We hear an inspiring address encouraging
us to visit the sick, give charity or perform another mitzvah (Divine
command) with which we can identify, but we cannot bring ourselves to change
as we know we should. To our chagrin, we cannot bring out the Yisro in each
This would be a significance of Yisro's parsha containing the Revelation at
Sinai. Before the Jewish people accepted the Torah, they said "na'aseh
v'nishmah" - we will perform the mitzvos and will expend effort to try to
understand them. They did indeed demonstrate an eagerness to change
themselves in order to fulfill G-d's will, a prerequisite to their receiving
the Torah as a nation. But the parsha is still named for Yisro. The children
of Israel had been the witnesses to and beneficiaries of G-d's miracles, so
their preparedness to change is not as remarkable. Yisro had the same
willingness after merely hearing of these events.
Have a Good Shabbos!
Copyright © 2003 by Rabbi Pinchas Avruch and Project Genesis, Inc.
Kol HaKollel is a publication of the Milwaukee Kollel Center for Jewish
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