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ON CRITICISM

by Benyamin Cohen    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

In this week's Torah portion, we learn about Yitro, Moses' father-in-law, coming to join the Jewish nation and subsequently converting to the religion. After hanging around the Jews' encampment, Yitro noticed what he determined to be a flaw in the Jewish people's judicial system.

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In this week's Torah portion, we learn about Yitro, Moses' father-in-law, coming to join the Jewish nation and subsequently converting to the religion. After hanging around the Jews' encampment, Yitro noticed what he determined to be a flaw in the Jewish people's judicial system. Up until now, Moses was serving as the sole judge, presiding over all the legal cases brought forth by the Children of Israel. Yitro decided to tell Moses that what he was doing was not a smart idea. Moses, your current system is full of problems. It is not fair to you or to the Jewish people if you are the only judge around. Yitro then suggested a solution to the problem. He told Moses to set up a lower court to deal with minor cases, and Moses would still be a judge, but only over the major issues. With Hashem's consent, this new judicial system was immediately implemented.

We can learn an invaluable lesson from Yitro's actions. It is very easy to find faults in someone, to critique their actions. But what does that accomplish? Without a proper solution, the criticism is worthless. However, Yitro devised a plan to solve the problem which he had just presented to Moses. We find a similar character trait by Joseph when he prophecizes to Pharaoh that there will be seven years of famine. After telling the king of the impending doom, Joseph provides an answer to the dilemma -- store up food in warehouses during the seven years of plenty. It's no big deal to alert people to their mistakes. But imagine how valuable our criticism would be if we just took the next step and tacked on a piece of helpful advice to our otherwise pointless rebuke.

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Benyamin Cohen, a native Atlantan, is currently a sophomore at Yeshiva University in New York.

You are invited to read more Parshat Yitro articles.

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