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Happy to be left out

Written by Rabbi Daniel Leeman

The account of the giving of the Torah is in the portion of Yisro. This seems a little strange since Yisro was originally a priest of idolatry. Furthermore, he was not even personally present when the Torah was given!

Every Israeli household knows the story of how Uri Zohar was at the height of his career in the Israeli media when he returned to his Jewish roots.
But what is less well-known is that initially his wife did not follow in his ways. Deciding to pursue different paths in life they set a date to separate.
But the evening before they were supposed to divorce, Uri went downstairs to get a drink of water, and saw his wife reading… the works of the great Torah legend: the Rambam! She looked at him and said that she wanted to become religious after all.

He later asked her what it was that she saw in the Rambam. She replied that she didn’t even understand what she was reading but saw that she had to become a part of it!

“Yisro heard of all that G-d did for Moshe and Israel… And Yisro rejoiced” [1] The Children of Israel accepted and observed the Torah after they witnessed it being miraculously given. But Yisro did so because he “heard” about it [2] – he did not witness it personally, but rather merely because he believed in it.
Perhaps this is why he rejoiced – being solely based upon belief rather than knowledge, in some respects his serving of G-d could potentially reach much higher levels.
Indeed the word used here for rejoice is “vayichad” which alludes to the commandment of ‘yichud’ i.e. belief in G-d (Shema Yisroel… echad).

Therefore subsequently the letter ‘vav’ was added to his name (Yesser became Yisro). Vav means ‘and’ – i.e. he had an additional benefit.

We also didn’t physically experience the giving of the Torah. And we didn’t even hear about it first or second hand – it happened over 3000 years ago! But we have heard about it and we do believe that it happened. This gives us also a potential benefit… so long as we follow in Yisro’s steps and do something about it!

Have a beneficial Shabbos,


Additional sources
[1] Shemos 18:1, 9
[2] Zevachim 116a

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