Someone said to me this week that in Torah there’s not much new. (I don’t think he really meant what he said, but that’s what he said).
So it got me thinking, “let’s take a look at the first passuk in this week’s parasha and see if we can find something new!” It is said (Shemos 18:1)וַיִּשְׁמַע יִתְרוֹ כֹהֵן מִדְיָן חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה אֵת כָּל אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה אֱלֹהִים לְמֹשֶׁה וּלְיִשְׂרָאֵל עַמּוֹ כִּי הוֹצִיא יְ-ה-ו-ָה אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל מִמִּצְרָיִם, Yisro the minister of Midian, the father-in-law of Moshe, heard everything that G-d did to Moshe and to Israel, His people – that HaShem had taken Israel out of Egypt. Immediately the word וַיִּשְׁמַע stands out. Why does the Torah focus on Yisro’s hearing whatever he heard?
In order to answer this question, we have to delve a little deeper into what Yisro actually heard. Some opinions maintain that Yisro heard about the Splitting of the Sea and the battle with Amalek. Yet, others posit that he heard about the Giving of the Torah. There is a major debate whether Yisro came prior to the Giving of the Torah or afterwards. I wonder, then, according to the opinion that Yisro came after the Giving of the Torah. Can we speculate that he arrived after the Jewish People crafted and worshipped the Golden Calf? If that was true, then we have a beautiful understanding into why the Torah states that Yisro heard about the Giving of the Torah. The Sfas Emes cites the Zohar that states that even though the Jewish People negated their acceptance of the Torah when they said נַעֲשֶׂה, “we will do,” they should still be careful of their utterance of וְנִשְׁמָע, and we will (obey) hear. Thus, Yisro was coming after the Jewish People had received the Torah AND after they had sinned with the Golden Calf. Nonetheless, he was able to grasp on to the נִשְׁמָע, the acceptance of hearing. This teaches us that despite committing grievous sins, one still has hope that he can once again exert himself to hear the word of HaShem. When we begin to truly hear the word of HaShem, we can be assured that HaShem will hear our pleas and our prayers to return to Him, with complete faith.
Have a Well Attuned Shabbos!