Shaarei Mizrah

Rabbi’s Corner

Perashat Yitro, is named after Moshe’s father-in-law for his contribution of a prescription for effective leadership.  There were two different guests that came to visit the Israelites in the desert. One was Yitro whose counsel was a major benefit to Israel. Yitro, upon observing his son-in-law’s workload, recommends appointing competent men to assist Moshe in the leadership of Bene Yisrael.  Moshe acts as the link between Hashem and Bene Yisrael, but appoints qualified judges to oversee the day to day operations.

The other guest was Amalek, who launched an unprovoked attack against Israel. Amalek became the archenemy of Israel and the eternal prototype of evil in the world. Ironically, several centuries after the Exodus from Egypt, when the Israelites lived in the land of Israel and King Saul was commanded to wage a war against Amalek, Yitro’s descendants lived in the territory of Amalek. King Saul, recognizing the Israel’s debt of gratitude to Yitro for his counsel and help, warned Yitro’s descendants to evacuate the area and assure their survival. How different then, was the behavior of the different guests, and how each one related to Bene Israel.  The lesson of Hakarat Hatov – gratitude is a lesson that Bene Israel made it part of their essence and existence.

The framework set by Yitro paved the way for Hashem to supply the legal code, the Decalogue, and subsequently the Torah. The authority was given to the sages and Rabbis of each generation to interpret it creating Rabbinic Law, and apply it to every situation.  Through the wisdom of Yitro, Hashem creates a partnership between himself and Bene Yisrael to establish a system of laws and a lifestyle which can survive eternally.

Indeed, today after approximately 3,400 years since the Decalogue and the Torah were given at Mt. Sinai, Judaism not only has survived, but also has flourished, developed, and given birth to other monotheistic religions. It is, of course, the covenant that Gd made with Bene Israel, and from our part, it is the judicial system put in place first by Yitro and then by the Sages and the Oral Law, that can be credited for the survival of Judaism and Bene Israel. 

How important, then, it is for us to cherish, study, keep and perpetuate the covenant, the Decalogue and the Torah so it will survive for, at least, another 3,400 years.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Dr. Elie Abadie
Senior Rabbi  
Jewish Council of the Emirates