Shabbat Shalom: Help From the Sidelines
By: Jenna Raimist
Young Adult Division (YAD) Director
This week’s Torah portion is Parashat Yitro, in which God speaks the Ten Commandments to the Israelites at Sinai. When I discovered that it was this specific text for which I was responsible, I immediately thought, “Oh man… this one is a doozy.” I was clearly feeling the pressure of a highly regarded, important Parshah. Then, with the guidance of a friend and colleague, I decided to back it up a bit:
Before we even get to the pomp and circumstance of the Ten Commandments, we have Jethro at the forefront of the text. With Moses’ return from the wilderness and his newfound connection to God and his laws, he finds himself endlessly settling disputes among his people. Moses encounters Jethro, a Midianite priest, who was Father of Zipporah, soon-to-be father-in-law of Moses. It was Jethro who suggested to Moses that he implement a judicial system so that he wouldn’t have to address the nation’s needs single-handedly. God approved of this idea, and a judicial system was established.
Eventually, Jethro abandoned his pagan lifestyle and joined the Israelites, saying that after the miraculous Exodus from Egypt, he was convinced that the God that the Jews worshiped was the true God, and Jethro came to the desert to convert. Perhaps Jethro’s perspective of looking from the outside in allowed him to see solutions to Moses’ problems more clearly.
Doesn’t it always work that way? It’s seemingly so much easier to advise someone else than to find solutions for your own woes. I sincerely hope that Jethro can be a constant reminder for all of us to seek counsel from trusted colleagues, friends, and family when we need a different perspective. After all, perspective grants us the wisdom to observe life from a different point of view.
Much thanks to Michelle Schwartz, JEWISHcolorado’s Director of Israeli Teen Emissaries & Education, my Jethro of the week. Wishing you all a joyous, peaceful weekend.
Shabbat Shalom, Colorado.
Please email Jenna Raimist at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or comments.