Let yourself to be vulnerable: Parashat Yitro
Torah has this great quality of being something you can read over and over again, yet every year you find how your reading changes as your own life-story develops….
This week I was reading Parashat Yitro and all of a sudden it came to my awareness that Moshe’s family is being brought to him (Exodus 18:2-5). And for the first time I understood that he hadn’t seen his Kids and his beloved wife for a long time. Maybe the fact that I am a father now, and that I love spending time with my wife and 2 children makes me see Moses for the first time from a different perspective.
But this loneliness is not limited to the long time he spent far from his family; it also remarks the fact that when he was sent by God to redeem our people he was alone. It is true that he met his siblings again but in that interaction he was a leader and had a mission…
Nobody was focused on Moshe’s feelings or struggles, nor on his heroism, even the Passover Haggadah actually doesn’t mention him.
But then Yitro appears. And suddenly someone cares about Moses, the man. Yitro his father in law is able to see his vulnerability.
He brings together Moses and his family, he eats with Moses, he celebrates his success and visits him at “work”….
- When Moses’ father in law saw what he was doing to the people, he said, “What is this thing that you are doing to the people? Why do you sit by yourself, while all the people stand before you from morning till evening?”
- Moses’ father in law said to him, “The thing you are doing is not good.
- You will surely wear yourself out both you and these people who are with you for the matter is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.
- Now listen to me. I will advise you, and may the Lord be with you……
Yitro sees in front of him “the big leader” but he is also able to see the little human who is dealing with a huge thing, carrying too much weight. You can not do it alone he says, you need to find balance between your “work” and your life, you need to find partners….
And Moshe listens to him and teaches us that our lives should not be impacted by only a single person who cares about us, but rather we should build and maintain a whole net of support and care.
This idea conducts us to the second part of the parasha, the 10 commandments (Exodus 20:2), which are a beautiful example of the same issue.
When Yitro appeared he recognized Moshe’s humanity and provided him with a framework of partnership with others that would allow him to have a more balanced life. And now follows God, delivering the 10 commandments recognizing the basic need in universal values and a social order.
As Yitro puts his hand on Moshe’s shoulder, expressing compassion and sensitivity, God embraces humanity with his Law. The most clear example of this act of love is Exodus 20:8-11:
- Remember the Sabbath day to sanctify it.
- Six days may you work and perform all your labor,
- but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord, your God; you shall perform no labor, neither you, your son, your daughter, your manservant, your maidservant, your beast, nor your stranger who is in your cities.
- For [in] six days the Lord made the heaven and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and sanctified it.