February 5-11, 2023 Exodus 18:1-29:23
A Part of the Torah-portion of this week:
Moses’ father-in-law, Yitro, hears of the great miracles which G‑d performed for the people of Israel, and comes from Midian to the Israelite camp, bringing with him Moses’ wife and two sons. Yitro advises Moses to appoint a hierarchy of magistrates and judges to assist him in the task of governing and administering justice to the people.
עַתָּ֣ה יָדַ֔עְתִּי כִּֽי־גָד֥וֹל יְהֹוָ֖ה מִכׇּל־הָאֱלֹהִ֑ים כִּ֣י בַדָּבָ֔ר אֲשֶׁ֥ר זָד֖וּ עֲלֵיהֶֽם׃
“Now I know that HaShem is greater than all the deities (Elokim)—and I am familiar with them all—for He has done what no other deity can do: in the very matter that the Egyptians plotted against Israel they have been foiled!”
Familiar with all deities
It is striking that many Noahides have often been searching for truth all their lives and have often tried different religions or directions within a religion or have researched scientific studies only to always come to the conclusion that “something is wrong.” They resemble Yitro
Yitro had researched the workings of creation from top to bottom and possessed expert knowledge of all the spiritual and scientific lore of his age. By declaring that all this knowledge led ultimately to the acceptance of the G-d’s wisdom, Yitro paved the way for the Giving of the Torah.
Lies Vanish, the Truth is Eternal
Yitro know al the deties – you can also say he know Elokim.
Yitro had experienced that all human (secular) knowledge is ultimately finite. There will always be new insights, new discoveries that make old opinions and ideas disappear. Just as ancient religions of the Egyptians, of the Babylonians, the Greeks, are now no more, religions of today will slowly die out and disappear.
It would not have been strange if the people in exile in Egypt had let go of their faith and trust in HaShem….where did redemption remain when their slavery was so harsh and pitiless.
But the people had continued to hope and to expect and Yitro had become a witness that the people were preserved, that HaShem does what He promises and that He is merciful.
Yithro had discovered that the Elokim who can be strict is this because He is merciful. And that His mercy is greater than His severity because His mercy encompasses it.
Noahides of today see this same miracle. The people have been in exile for centuries. Not in Egypt, but in the world. And as HaShem led the nation out of Egypt, He leads them out of the world, back to their own land.
Whereby the world also sees and discovers that although old religions are disappearing, HaShem has always remained the same. That the nation still serves Him in the same way as it did centuries ago. That all this has eternal value, because the lie disappears and the truth remains.
Where Chesed is, there is no Room for Fear
Opinions differ as to whether or not Yitro converted to Judaism. Personally, I like to leave that question unanswered. Because whether the answer is yes or no, the job of Noahides is to introduce the world to HaShem, G-d who is merciful and that His mercy is beyond the laws of nature or beyond strict law.
Because that is important before people accept the 7 Noahides laws. Because while some of the laws will be very logical, there will certainly be mitsvot among them that need practice. We can only practice in confidence if we know that we are allowed to make mistakes. That if we fall, that we get up, say sorry, and try again. Only when we learn the grace of HaShem are we able to do His will without fear.
By Angelique Sijbolts
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