Friday, January 25, 2008

The Far Side...

…is one of those cartoons that was seen by many (okay by me) as having the ability to key in on aspects of life that are often overlooked. In this weeks parsha we have a similar situation taking place between Moshe and his father-in-law Yisro (while Mr. Larson’s observations are usually of the more whimsical persuasion Yisro’s is more along the lines of practical advice). Yisro shows up and, it would seem, in one day points out something that to that point had not occurred to any other member of Bnei Yisroel.

Let’s step back for a moment. Rashi says that Moshe’s father-in-law had seven names: Reuel, Jether, Jethro [i.e., Yisro], Hobab, Heber, Keni, [and] Putiel (Mechilta). Rashi continues…’[He was called] Jether (יֶתֶר) because he [caused] a section to be added (יִתֵּר) to the Torah [namely]: “But you shall choose” (below verse 21)’. So he was given the name of Yisro due to his having added a section to the Torah, specifically the section beginning with… וְאַתָּה תֶחֱזֶה מִכָּל-הָעָם, where he lays out for Moshe what should be done in order to rectify the issue of judging all of Klal Yisroel on an ongoing basis.
I heard the following question and answer in relation to this last night during a shiur given by Rabbi Frand.

Why is the section that Yisro added to the Torah limited to that portion beginning with Pasuk כא? Did not his advice to Moshe really begin in Pasuk יד when after seeing what his son-in-law must go through on a daily basis he asks Moshe,

מָה-הַדָּבָר הַזֶּה אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה עֹשֶׂה לָעָם--מַדּוּעַ אַתָּה יוֹשֵׁב לְבַדֶּךָ, וְכָל-הָעָם נִצָּב עָלֶיךָ מִן-בֹּקֶר עַד-עָרֶב
'What is this thing that thou doest to the people? why sittest thou thyself alone, and all the people stand about thee from morning unto even?'

or if not there then surely in Pasuk יז when he tells him,

לֹא-טוֹב, הַדָּבָר, אֲשֶׁר אַתָּה, עֹשֶׂה – ‘The thing that thou doest is not good…’.

Why does Rashi ignore these sections and pinpoint another as the specific area in the Torah that was special enough to warrant a new name for Yisro?

The answer is as follows; because the other two Pesukim pointed out above deal with the recognition of a problem and the vocalization of said problem. These two acts are not worthy of recognition, to do that is no big deal. Most can notice a problem and as we are all more than well aware ANYBODY can talk about that problem once it has been pointed out…it doesn’t take a godol to complain.
It does take a Godol to go about putting together a solution and to see that it is implemented successfully. That is why the section of the Torah that was so special as to warrant a new name for Yisro was only that section beginning with Pasuk כא,

וְאַתָּה תֶחֱזֶה מִכָּל-הָעָם אַנְשֵׁי-חַיִל יִרְאֵי אֱלֹהִים, אַנְשֵׁי אֱמֶת--שֹׂנְאֵי בָצַע; וְשַׂמְתָּ עֲלֵהֶם, שָׂרֵי אֲלָפִים שָׂרֵי מֵאוֹת, שָׂרֵי חֲמִשִּׁים, וְשָׂרֵי עֲשָׂרֹת.
'Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating unjust gain; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens',

it is here that Yisro outlines for Moshe how to go about setting up a better system of judgment than the one that was being employed. It was here that Yisro showed that he was more than just a kvethcer, a complainer…he was a man of action, not just a problem finder but a problem solver...THAT deserves recognition.

And so does this:

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