Parshas Yisro: Being Alone

 

This week’s Parsha is called Yisro. This is the name of Moshe Rabbenu’s father in law, who, at the beginning of the Parsha, advises Moshe regarding the governing of the Israelites. Up to this point, Moshe Rabbenu had acted as judge over all the people of Israel. There were many of them, and they were prone to disputes, meaning that Moshe had to stand and give ruling after ruling, piece of advice after piece of advice, until he was fatigued due to the strain he was under. As such, his father in law told him to appoint a hierachy of judges and magistrates, who could deal with the everyday issues faced by the Israelites. If none of them could solve a conundrum, it would then be passed onto Moshe Rabbenu.

After this system is set up, the Israelites encamp opposite Mount Sinai, before eventually finding themselves directly beneath it, as, in one of the most important and memorable moments in our history, G-d proclaims the Asares HaDibros, or 10 commandments. The Israelites are so awestruck that they beg Moshe Rabbenu to receive the Torah and teach it to them, in an amazing display of faith.

Yisro’s suggestion to Moshe was a valuable one. Moshe had trouble delegating responsibility; he felt that it was his responsibility to deal with the Jewish peoples’ dilemmas single handedly, even when this was placing an immense strain on him. This was where Yisro stepped in to tell him that it was not his duty, and, in fact, Yisro’s message echoes one of the most integral philosophies of the Torah, oft repeated and central to modern Jewush lifestyles. It can even be traced back to the creation of Chava in Gan Eyden.

Essentially, when Moshe Rabbenu’s father in law told him to appoint judges, he was saying; don’t ‘go it alone’. Don’t attempt to deal with all the Israelites’ problems by yourself; seek assistance and surround yourself with people who will help carry your burden. And what was G-d’s reason for creating Chava? Because it is unnatural for man to be alone. The two senses of ‘alone’ both suggest the same outcome. In Adom’s- and in every man’s case- it implies that marriage is the natural state for a man; that man should not live alone, and tackle life without his wife’s companionship. And in Moshe Rabbenu’s case, which is that of every person, male or female, in a position of power, ‘alone’ meant accepting sole responsibility. It meant tackling a massive workload by oneself, and, above all, relying solely on one’s own judgement.

In both cases, it means the same thing. The state of being alone is unnatural and discouraged. Because when man is alone, he attempts to become like G-d. This isn’t always intentional. But only G-d is made to alone; only G-d can possess the attribute of “oneness”. When man acts alone, he runs the risk of trying to act like G-d- essentially, idolatry. G-d is One; He is immensely powerful and can perform miracles beyond comprehension. But we can’t . Ordinary people can’t. We need to turn to those around us to fulfil our full potential, as Yisro teaches Moshe Rabbenu in this week’s Parsha. And it’s when we do this, that we can serve G-d in the truest way possible.

This week’s dvar Torah is dedicated in memory of Ruchama Malka Breindel bas Sheina Shifra, a truly exceptional young girl who taught us that the world’s Yidden can never be alone, so long as we are united through our tefillos. May her neshomo have the highest Aaliyah.

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