Pearls of Rashi – Parshas Yisro II

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The name of this week’s Parshah is Yisro. The reason for this is because Yisro, Moshe Rabbeinu’s father in law, features prominently in our Torah portion. He traveled from his home in Midian in order to visit his son-in-law and the Jewish nation.

Yisro objected to the way things were done in the wilderness. The Torah tells us that[1] “it happened on the next day that Moshe sat down to judge the nation. The people stood before Moshe from the morning until the evening.” Yisro objected to the fact that Moshe alone judged the people.

He suggested that there be a hierarchy of judges from among the most significant people of the nation; only the most difficult cases should be brought before Moshe. In this manner, the people would not have to wait for judgment “from the morning until the evening.” Not only did Moshe agree to his father-in-law’s suggestion, but G-d Almighty himself was in agreement. This is the procedure that is followed throughout history.

The Torah is not a history book. The Torah only tells us about an event if it teaches us a lesson in the service of Hashem. Why does

the Torah specify that Yisro offered his suggestion on “the next day?” Furthermore, the Torah does not even tell us when “the next day” was. Which day did it follow?

Rashi cites the words from the verse “it happened on the next day” and explains as follows. “This was the day after Yom Kippur … Now, what is meant by “on the next day”? On the day after Moshe descended from the mountain.”

From this, we can learn an essential lesson in our Divine service. No matter how great we are, no matter how lofty a level we have reached, there is always room for us to improve. Yom Kippur had just passed and G-d forgave on the Jews. Our leader had just come down from Mount Sinai. Yet we were able to soar to even greater heights! Yisro brought about a (seemingly) new aspect of the Torah. Even after Yom Kippur, it was possible to attain an even greater level.

This brings to mind the story with the Rebbe Rashab. He was asked what our service of Hashem must be after Yom Kippur. This follows ten days of Teshuvah, anointing Hashem as our King, and attaining forgiveness. The Rebbe answered that, “now we must first do Teshuvah.”

Wherever we are, whatever level we have reached, we must constantly strive to go even higher.

Wishing one and all a good Shabbos!

Rabbi Shmuel Mendelsohn

Adapted from Farbrengen of Tu Bishvat, 5742


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[1]. Our Parshah, Shemos 18:13.

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