In this week's Parsha, Parashat Yitro, we learn about a pivotal moment in the history of the Israelites. After finally escaping slavery in Egypt, the Israelites arrive at Mount Sinai to receive the Ten Commandments, cementing the Israelites place as a nation.
We also hear about Yitro - Moses’ father-in-law - and how he had advised Moses to appoint judges to solve the issues of each of the 12 tribes. Moses takes this advice into account, appointing many additional judges and this decision leads to a decrease in Moses’ workload as a leader. This recommendation from Yitro was so crucial it eventually led to him earning the honor of having a Parsha named after him.
However, why is the Parsha named after Yitro, a pagan midianite priest, when seemingly so many more significant things happen throughout the weekly portion? Wouldn’t a name like the 10 Commandments or something related to the event of receiving the Torah be more relevant?
One commentary answers this by highlighting Yitro’s unique mission as a non-Israelite who recognised G-d’s power and greatness. We can also highlight the importance of the Israelites and their mission in the world at that time and continuing on today. Yitro’s story tells us about the importance of embracing truth, through a variety of perspectives.
We are often taught how to act or think by following a formula which tells us how we should live our lives. Rather than following these commands blindly, we should strive to be more like Yitro, looking for the truth in the world around us even if it may be against our own prior beliefs, thoughts and opinions.
By seeking truth in the world around us, even if it challenges our own prior notions, we can embark on a journey of self-improvement and growth. Yitro's resolute pursuit of truth, despite his background and personal beliefs, is a powerful example for us all.
May we all find the truth within ourselves and around us in order to reach the level of purity which earned Yitro the honor of having his name as the title of this week's Parsha.
Thank you, Shabbat Shalom
Tamir, Grade 11