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Friday, February 6

The Weekly Shtikle - Yisro

At the beginning of the parsha, we learn that Yisro was so inspired by the news of the great miracles of the Jews' exodus from Egypt that he felt compelled to join them in the desert. Rashi discusses which event it was that actually triggered this decision. There are some interesting perspectives on that topic itself but at any rate, it is clear Yisro was quite well-informed in current events. Strangely, however, when Moshe comes out to greet his father-in-law, he recounts for him (18:8) everything that had happened. Rashi writes that this was done to allure him and stimulate his desire to follow the ways of the Torah. Nevertheless, this appears somewhat superfluous as Yisro was seemingly already aware of all this information.

This might be explained merely as repetition, as suggested by some commentaries, as the repetition of a story always makes a deeper impression, especially when it comes from a first-hand witness. However, based on Malbim's approach, there was indeed much purpose in Moshe's repetition of the events. Rashi points out on the first pasuk of the parsha that Moshe is seemingly equated with all of Yisrael. The pasuk certainly puts strong emphasis on Moshe with regards to the miracles performed by HaShem. It is possible that Yisro's drive to join B'nei Yisrael, although genuine, was bolstered by a sense of pride in the accomplishments of his son-in-law. To avoid such a misconception, Moshe, in his infinite humility, had to retell the story with the focus on B'nei Yisrael, as the pasuk clearly indicates, "al odos Yisrael." This in turn justifies Rashi's statement on this pasuk. Had Yisro come to join B'nei Yisrael simply out of appreciation of Moshe's accomplishments as a leader, he would have lacked the proper reverence for the merit of B'nei Yisrael and thus, been less likely to follow in the path of their Torah. Moshe had to impress these ideas on his father-in-law in order for him to grasp the true significance of the nation he was about to join.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

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