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SLOW DOWN!

by Rabbi David Kapenstein    
Torah from Dixie Staff Writer    

"And Yitro the minister of Midian, the father-in-law of Moses heard everything that G-d did to Moses and the Jewish people, that Hashem took them out of the land of Egypt" (Exodus 18:1).

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"And Yitro the minister of Midian, the father-in-law of Moses heard everything that G-d did to Moses and the Jewish people, that Hashem took them out of the land of Egypt" (Exodus 18:1).

Upon hearing of all the wondrous miracles that Hashem performed for the Jewish people with the crossing of the Red Sea and the war with Amalek, Yitro felt compelled to join the Jewish people. Our sages point out that many people were aware of the miracles of the splitting of the Red Sea. In fact, according to the Midrash, all of the waters of the world split when the Red Sea split. Even if a person was drinking a glass of water, says the Midrash, the water split into two parts. Can you imagine such an event?! Undoubtedly, CNN would have broken in for a special report. There would have been analyses by all of the leading journalists. What then was so significant about Yitro's hearing the news of these spectacular events?

Many times in our fast-paced and busy lives we neglect to see the importance of significant events to which we are exposed. It is not that we are unaware. It is just that there are so many other things to do: calls to be returned, memos to write, and so on that we fail to stand back and appreciate Hashem's intervention in the world and in our lives. Yitro recognized just how amazingly the Jewish people were protected and cared for by Hashem. However, recognition in and of itself was insufficient. Yitro felt compelled to join his son-in-law and the people who merited Hashem's personal intervention. The uniqueness, as pointed out by the fundamental commentator Rashi, is not that Yitro heard of these events, but that he immediately came.

Our sages tell us that Yitro and his son-in-law Moses shared this character trait. Many people heard about the famous burning bush, but they all had carpools to run and appointments to make. However, Moses said: "I will turn and see why this bush is not consumed. Hashem then responded: If you will turn to Me, I will turn to you." Many people could have been privileged to speak to Hashem face to face as Moses did, but they were too busy to show interest. Let us take some time in the course of each week to stand back and appreciate how Hashem cares for each of us, our people, and our land.

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Rabbi David Kapenstein is the Director of Development at the Torah Day School of Atlanta.

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