MAN OF ACTION
In this week's Torah portion, we are reintroduced to Yitro, Moses' father-in-law. Yitro did something that was unthinkable - he was a Midianite priest who left his idolatrous lifestyle to join Moses and the Jewish people in the desert.
In this week's Torah portion, we are reintroduced to Yitro, Moses' father-in-law. Yitro did something that was unthinkable - he was a Midianite priest who left his idolatrous lifestyle to join Moses and the Jewish people in the desert. This becomes even more implausible when we consider the fact that Midian was an ally of Amalek, the nation that ruthlessly attacked the Jewish people at the end of last week's Torah portion.
Why, in fact, did Yitro leave everything he had to join the Jewish people? Rashi, the classic Torah commentator, explains the opening words of this week's portion, "Vayishma Yitro - and Yitro heard," to refer to Yitro's hearing the news of the miraculous splitting of the Red Sea and the victory in the war against Amalek.
One of the more unbelievable aspects about Yitro's decision is that despite all of the well-known miracles that Hashem performed for the Jewish people, Yitro was the only one from Midian who left his insurmountable pleasures to follow Hashem. Everyone around him continued to sin, and only Yitro could not tolerate their behavior any longer. He was able to overcome the influence of the society around him and chart his own course. Through his new relationship with Hashem, he acquired a degree of eternity.
Today, we live in a society where things that are accepted as normal in secular society are not always acceptable for the Jewish people. We must be dedicated in our efforts to fulfill Hashem's will. As the sages say in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of Our Fathers 5:23): "Be bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and strong as a lion, to carry out the will of your Father in heaven." We must not let the yeitzer hara (evil inclination) hold us back from reaching our fullest potential.
If Yitro, an ally of the ruthless Amalek, can do teshuvah (repentance) and return to Hashem, then we can certainly struggle to do the same. May we all merit to continually strive to improve in our service of Hashem and achieve eternity like Yitro.
David Schulman, a native Atlantan, is a senior at Yeshiva Atlanta.
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