Parashas Yisro – What Moshe Told Yisro

The Torah recounts: “Yisro, the minister of Midian, the father-in-law of Moshe, heard everything that God did for Moshe and for His Israel, His people …. And Moshe told his father-in-law everything that Hashem had done to Pharaoh and Egypt for Israel’s sake – all the travail that had befallen them on the way – and that Hashem had rescued them.” A question jumps out: “What did Moshe tell Yisro, beyond what Yisro had already heard?”
In Ohel Yaakov, parashas Yisro, the Maggid answers as follows. Initially, Yisro recognized only the wondrous kindness that Hashem displayed in redeeming the Jewish People from Egypt. The enslavement, he thought, was just a happenstance misfortune. Moshe explained to Yisro that the enslavement was also orchestrated by Hashem for the Jewish People’s benefit. The enslavement and redemption together formed a process designed to instill faith and fear of Hashem in the Jewish People’s hearts, and to raise them to the spiritual level they needed to reach in order to receive the Torah.
The Maggid brings out the same idea in his commentary on the Mah Nishtaneh passage of the Haggadah. He brings out the idea with an analogy. Suppose a person had a broken leg, and a doctor healed it. The person then surely would owe thanks to the doctor. But what if the doctor himself had broken the person’s leg, and then healed it? In this case, it would seem that the doctor is owed no thanks. Suppose, however, that the doctor saw that the person’s leg was developing a serious deformity, and needed to be broken and reset. Then the person would owe thanks to doctor not only for the ultimate healing of the leg, but also for the initial breaking of it. Both steps were part of the overall cure.
Similarly, Hashem saw that the Jewish People had developed an insidious spiritual flaw. In order to repair this flaw, He subjected us to slavery and then redeemed us. Both steps were part of the overall cure, and thus we have a duty to thank Hashem for both.
David Zucker, Site Administrator

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