0 Posted by - February 4, 2016 - Parsha, Shemot


Parashat Yitro

We are never defeated unless we give up on G-d. We cannot allow ourselves to get used to the current situation: Israel news does not go a day without an attack. I attended a Bar Mitzvah in the Aish Hatorah building in Jerusalem this last week. I parked in the Har Tzion parking lot, and I walked about twelve minutes to the building. The whole way, I held my SABRE 25 Burst pepper-spray in hand, proudly advertised as “Making Grown Men Cry Since 1975!®”, just in case. I said to myself, “Wow! I feel more secure just holding on to this thing”. But then, I realized how foolish I sounded. If only we could hold on to G-d like that! For, what is our most potent ‘pepper-spray’ in these hard times, that can supply us with limitless bursts against the evil decrees? The ability to say, especially after learning Torah or attending a Torah class, Amen Yehe Sheme Rabba Mebarach, with all of our energy. Not only is the one who says those holy words a person that merits Olam Haba, (Berachot 57a) but by saying these words, the Heavens rip up the evil decrees against him (Shabbat 119b). Giving up on this power – is giving up on G-d. What is this infinite power?

ויחד יתרו על כל הטובה אשר עשה ×”’ לישראל אשר הצילו מיד מצרים And Yitro “rejoiced” over all the good that G-d did for the Jewish Nation, that He saved the Nation from the hand of the Egyptians. עתה ידעתי ×›×™ גדול ×”’ מכל האלוהים ×›×™ בדבר אשר זדו עליהם.Now, I know that G-d is the greatest of all the gods, for that which was plotted against them. The Rabbis differ with various opinions as to what the word ויחד means. One opinion is that Yitro rejoiced, חדוה. And, another opinion is that he made the Name of G-d unique and one, אחד. (Tanchuma)

Why did Yitro join the Nation, and what did he actually say? For G-d is greater than all gods, for G-d pays back measure for measure. The Egyptians were killed with water for their having drowned Jewish babies. Why is “measure for measure” such a significant thing, making G-d greater than all other gods?

One of the main reasons why people of the world do not follow the Jewish religion is because they have an age old question about G-d called צדיק ורע לו. Why do bad things happen to good people, and why do good things happen to bad people. If every time a person did a good deed he would get rewarded, and every time a person did something bad he would be punished, every sane person would follow the Torah, to a tee. The Egyptian slavery posed a big question about G-d’s running the world, as if G-d does not ‘keep score’. Or, even worse, as if there were two gods. A god of mercy and a god of strict judgment. This whole phenomenon of G-d letting good things happen to bad people and vice versa makes things very confusing, giving us the impression that perhaps, ×—”ו, there really are two gods. Once Yitro saw what happened to the Egyptians, the ‘measure for measure’, it showed him that the same G-d who was with them at the sea was with them in slavery. This is what is meant when it says that Yitro made the Name of G-d one.

Our Rabbis teach that when we say the words אמן יהא שמיה רבא מברך, we are praying that the Name of G-d be complete and whole. From the time of the war of Amalek, the Name YHVH of G-d is incomplete,×›×™ יד על כס ×™-×”. His throne is not complete. What is Amalek? Amalek is the nation, or the force in the world, that resulted from the Jewish people doubting or questioning if G-d is among them, היש ×”’ בקרבנו אם אין . Amalek is the same numerical value as doubt, עמלק = ספק. And this doubt, if G-d is among us or not, was answered by Yitro, who informed us from inside sources, that all of what Pharaoh plotted was punished, measure for measure. And that, yes, G-d is among us. And, it is all the same G-d.

When we say Kriat Sh’ma, we say YHVH is our G-d and YHVH is One. G-d has two Attributes, Mercy and Judgement. YHVH represents Mercy, for it means that He was, is and will always be, even in dark times.  And אלוקינו stands for His attribute of Judgement. Reality, or G-d, can sometimes come across as Judgement. And, sometimes, come across as Mercy. It can appear as if there are two gods in the Universe, or, heaven forbid, as if G-d is inconsistent. But G-d is One; it is just that we can’t understand Him. In Patach Eliyahu, which Sefardim say before Minha to open up the heart, we declare with Eliyahu Hanavi, G-d is a being whose only definition is that it is beyond man’s power to conceive what He is. And of course, we cannot understand His oneness, we can just believe in it and pray for it.

חדוה is a type of happiness for a Jew where there is a perspective of a collective    understanding of His oneness and acceptance of G-d. The word חדוה, is also used as we bless a Bride and Groom with חדוה at the Sheva Berachot, that despite their differences, they find a collective perspective of oneness where the strengths and weaknesses of each partner complement each other. Happiness for a Jew and lack of it, is many times dependent on this unified concept- seeing and accepting a whole and one picture of G-d, His Judgment, and His Mercy. This is the חדוה , the rejoicing of Yitro, that the world has a unity to it, it has a G-d who is One. This concept is so powerful that when we prayיהא שמיה רבא מברך , that the Name of G-d, YH, be whole, when we pray for His Mercy to shine, when we proclaim His Oneness, despite the hard times, we can rip up any decree.

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