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Home » Exodus 18:24 – Why Did G-d Approve of Jethro’s Plan?

Exodus 18:24 – Why Did G-d Approve of Jethro’s Plan?

Tuesday 16 Shevat 5783 (07.02.23)

וַיִּשְׁמַ֥ע מֹשֶׁ֖ה לְק֣וֹל חֹתְנ֑וֹ וַיַּ֕עַשׂ כֹּ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר אָמָֽר׃

“When the Torah was given, Moses wanted the people to continue to hear G-d’s word directly even after the initial revelation on Mount Sinai. Here too, he felt it would be preferable for them to hear G-d’s teachings directly from him rather than from his pupils. Furthermore, Moses assumed at this stage that he was going to lead the people into the Land of Israel himself, and as soon as he did so the people would attain the same level of Divine consciousness that he already possessed. He therefore thought Jethro’s concerns about what would happen after his demise were unfounded—which is why he had not suggested setting up a judicial system before Jethro did. Nonetheless, Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did all that he had said. He consulted with G-d and G-d approved Jethro’s plan. This was the significance of his former name, Jether (“one who adds”): he caused G-d to add a section to the Torah.”

Why Did G-d Approve of Jethro’s Plan?

G-d approved of this plan, even though it would mean that the people would come under the judicial authority of men under Moses, because in this way even the simplest among the people would be able to relate to the Torah’s legal system and submit their lives to its authority. Had Moses remained the sole judge of the people, some of them would have been unduly intimidated by his overwhelming presence and spiritual stature, and would therefore have considered themselves unworthy or “beyond the reach” of the Torah’s jurisdiction.

Yet, in a sense, it is right for this simple, unpretentious people that the Torah was given. It is to the Torah’s credit, and a testament to its true transcendence, that it contains the laws that govern not only our most exalted moments, but also the seemingly trivial concerns that crop up in our daily affairs.

What Can we Learn from this?

If a role model for us is so great, so knowledgeable, so “perfect” that it seems impossible for us to follow in his footsteps even slightly, why should we try? How could we ever be like Moses, to whom G-d gave the Torah, Moses who understood the entire Torah, and then acted. Of course Moses would not be tempted to lie, to do something dishonest, to skip a prayer, to…..yes maybe in our initial enthusiasm we would try. But would we get up after our fall, or would we think, that level is never going to work for me?

However if your immediate neighbor shows good behavior, says a kind word, is honest, pays attention to that sick person…that, that motivates because if he can do that, so can I.

In addition, this example also teaches us that when we want to teach people something, we have to adapt to their level.

חֲנֹ֣ךְ לַ֭נַּעַר עַל־פִּ֣י דַרְכּ֑וֹ גַּ֥ם כִּי־יַ֝זְקִ֗ין לֹֽא־יָס֥וּר מִמֶּֽנָּה׃

Train a lad in the way he ought to go; He will not swerve from it even in old age.

Proverbs 22:6

Teaching a young person (in age or thought) in his “own way” implies that it is not a “mature” path, but a path suitable for this person. A path that is like a foundation to which a person can always return in his growth process. Everything we want to teach someone must lead to someone getting to know HaShem better. Getting to know them in such a way that a love for Hashem develops. In every growth process a person goes through, even when in doubt or should he fall, this knowledge and this love will help him up and continue to grow.

However, if we offer knowledge that is far beyond a person’s reach, it will not lead to knowing Hashem or loving Hashem.

Hashem agreed to that plan because it leads to knowledge in everyone at his own level and love for HaShem – each according to his abilities.

By Angelique Sijbolts

Sources: Kehot Chumash Yitro, Tanya Gateway to Unity and Faith

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