Portion Yitro – Jethro the Judge – how Smart was he?
The portion of Mount Sinai (actually described in a few places) starts with Jethro the Convert to Judaism hearing about the miracles which the Almighty did for the people of Israel.
He brings to Moses the boys and the wife he left in Midian with Jethro (Yitro – the grandpa) for safety lest Pharoah punish Moses by hurting his family.
Was Jethro a smart guy? He had 7 daughters – and it seems they and their husbands joined the Israelites and helped them during the 40 years in the desert! Did that make him smart?
After getting to know Moses and Aron – Yitro starts GIVING ADVICE. Is that smart?
Why does the portion start "and Yitro heard …" – and the portion is NOT called after the first word – "Shama" (hearing) which is so important to us all?
The portion is called after the SECOND word "Yitro" (or YISRO in Ashkenazi Hebrew).
Jethro is called "the (high) priest of Midian" – and yet he gives advice to the Israelites on how to organize the 12 tribes – judicially – but also for daily functions – through the warfare needed to return Israel-Canaan to the Abrahamic peoples after 210 years of slavery!
How to pick (honest) leaders! How to bring an end to quarrels! How to bring organization to 12 tribes about to wander in the desert 40 years. AND IT WAS ACCEPTED AND IT WORKED.
Smart – and holy – and helpful. Why did he bring his family to Israelite life? Why did he help Moses and the tribes?
The Rabbis who knew his great grandchildren were to become Jewish Judges in Jerusalem said of him:
Jethro had a bit of prophecy – a great degree of holiness that he yearned for and struggled to achieve.
He was Moses' father on law – and the two achieved their greatest achievements for Israel with the help of each other.
May we be blessed to know such people, recognize such people, and may such people be among those sharing paradise in the world of the eternal Almighty.
And don't forget to study the portion and the 10 Commandments this Shabbat!
Love and Shabbos
Rabbi Andy Eichenholz