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[Dvar Torah] Yitro

This week's parasha is Yitro and it raises the question: how can it be that the parasha in which the children of Israel receive the Torah is named after Yitro - a person? What special quality did he possess that he was rewarded in this way?

King David tells us that many people ask: how can one achieve excellence? - "Who will show us goodness?" (Psalms, chapter 4,7). King David answers “You brought joy into my heart from the time that their I saw grain and their wine increased” (Psalms, chapter 4,8). Real happiness comes from seeing other people happy. 

King David wasn’t the first one to derive joy from other people’s success. The first one was Yitro. The Talmud in Sanhedrin says it is a disgrace for Moses and the six hundred thousand adult men of the children of Israel whom he led out of Egypt that not one of them said "Blessed (is Hashem)" until Yitro came and said: “Blessed be the Lord.”

Yitro opened his mouth and utters: “Blessed be G-d,” Yitro says, “who delivered you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh, and who delivered the people from under the hand of the Egyptians” (Exodus 18,10). 

We can ask - Did Moses and the Israelites not bless G-d until Yitro came? The Book of Genesis is full of blessings: Noah, Melchizedek and even Eliezer bless G-d, but all of them bless Him because they were included in the situation, they were part of it. 

Yitro was the first one to bless Hashem - G-d - for other people’s fortune. He blessed G-d for the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt - an event that he was not part of, had no interest in, nor receive any benefit from. He wasn't a slave in Egypt, he didn’t suffer. He didn't see the Egyptians running after the Israelites but he felt their pain as it if were his own and we was happy for the Israelites as if it was his own happiness. 

Because of that the parasha named after him. This is also a great way for us to learn the message of the Torah - to be one people with one heart - the ability to be happy for other people's happiness will help us to be one people with one heart.

Mr. Aranov, Jewish Studies Teacher