Parshas Yisro – To Search for the Truth

A name stands for a person’s life accomplishments.  Moshe had ten names, each one representing an important aspect of his life.  Yisro had seven.  He was zoche that a parsha in the Torah was added on his account.  Certainly no small accomplishment.

 

Despite Yisro being a neighbor of Amolek-the archenemy of the Jews, he was able to resist his bad influence and join alongside Klal Yisroel.  As a reward, his great grandchildren were given the beautiful palm city of Yericho in which to settle.  Yet we are told that they followed the great leader into the deserts of Yehudah in order to study the Torah from the godol hador himself.  They showed an intense love for Torah.  This thirst for Torah could not be quenched.  Certainly this desire for the truth must have been ingrained into their very personality, an inheritance from their
great grandfather Yisro. Yisro was a most unique person.  He started out as the Kohen Midyon, a very successful and high-ranking priest who served idols as did most of his generation.  Yet he soon realized their falsehood.  He wasn’t satisfied to believe in them blindly.  He closely analyzed their worth and found them lacking.  He went on to examine every avodah zoroh in the world in search for the true G-D.  He examined each and every one of them to see if there was any truth in them.  He didn’t just believe in them because everyone did. He had to prove it to himself.  He would have to be convinced himself of their worth before convincing others. It’s not easy for a person to go against everybody’s belief.  It means losing your friends, becoming isolated.  In fact, his daughters were nearly drowned because of it.  If not for Moshe coming to the rescue just in the nick of time, they would have been done for.  Yisro gave up a good paying job, a position that gave him honor and fame.   Instead, he became an outcast, despised by all of society.  How would he manage to marry off his daughters?  How would he earn a livelihood?  He risked being imprisoned for blasphemy!  Yet, nothing in the world would stop him from seeking the truth. Under no circumstances would he consider worshipping a god that was false, even if his life depended on it. He was a person of the greatest integrity. He was certainly a man with great deductive powers.  He must have a brilliant analytical mind.   Nothing could fool him.  He could not be persuaded by other people’s opinions.  He would not accept any G-D unless it could be proven to him beyond the shadow of a doubt. At one time he had the high position of being one of King Pharaoh’s three advisors. The others were Bilom and Iyov.  Certainly Pharaoh must have thought him to be a brilliant person in order to take him as his personal advisor.  Yet he had the guts to tell Pharoah not to dare harm the yidden. For expressing his opinion loud and clear he had to flee for his life.  Even Iyov, the great champion of kindness, remained silent.  He knew that to protest or challenge Bilom’s wicked advice would be useless and only put his own life in danger.  He was later punished for his silence.  Yisro, however, was very outspoken.  He cared little about his personal safety.  He expressed his opinion no matter what the danger.  He said what he meant despite the loss of his position and the danger to his life.  He was a man sworn to uphold the truth, and no power in the world could sway him from it. Nevertheless, all of Moshe’s arguments, including the ten makkos in Mitzrayim which certainly left a great impression on him, didn’t get him to leave the comfort of his home.  It was only after hearing of the splitting of the Yam Suf and the war against Amolek that made such a powerful impression on him that he took his daughter Tzipporah (Moshe’s wife) and his grandsons Gershom and Eliezer (Moshe’s children) and came to join the Bnai Yisroel in the midbor.

 

These two events were of such great significance that they finally convinced him that this was the true religion, and that he had finally found the real G-D.  The fact that the Egyptians received the very same punishment that they themselves meted out to the yidden showed him that nothing was coincidental.  Everything was midoh k’neged midoh. There is a G-D to whom one is accountable!

 

If only we too would learn to stand up to what we believe is right.  Too often we allow our friends to persuade us to do things we know are wrong. Often we join and do what everybody else is doing, even though we know it’s wrong.  We don’t have the guts to tell them our real opinion.  We’re afraid we’ll be laughed at.  People will poke fun at us if we don’t join and do what everyone else does.  We don’t have any backbone to stand up for ourselves.  We’re afraid we’ll lose friends.  We’re afraid to be different. We’re afraid we’ll be laughed at.

 

Remember, just because everybody does something doesn’t make it right. Unfortunately, much of what we see happening in the goyishe world around us is wrong.  We don’t have to follow their styles.  We don’t have to go where they go.  We don’t have to do as they do.

 

We’re different, and we must remain different.  The medrash says that it was because the yidden remained steadfast in four things that they were eventually taken out of Mitzrayim:

1. They didn’t change their dress.

2. They didn’t change their language.

3. They didn’t change their names.

4. They didn’t speak loshon hora or rechilus.

Let’s realize that we are different, and therefore a Jew must act differently.  We are a holy nation, and therefore we must act holy.  What’s right for the rest of the world may not be right for us.  We’ve got to stand up for what we believe in just the way Yisro did. We can not allow ourselves to be swept along by the goyishe tide. We must always remember that we are the chosen nation and that we must act that way at all times!

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