Yitro the first proselyte

We have arrived at the most important event of the books of Moses: the revelation of the 10 Commandments of the Lord. It is surprising that a portion of Torah describing the most important event in Jewis history, the very foundation of our faith and identity, is named after the high priest of the pagan people that will remain one of Israel’s greatest enemies: Midian. This Jewish people, often accused of communitarianism and disdain for the other nations, names the most significant part of their holy writings by the name of a stranger. In addition to being Moses’ father-in-law, Yitro’s respect is also mainly due to the fact that he was the first proselyte in history.

Yitro managed Moses’ fortune and took care of his wife and children, in other words, his own daughter and grandchildren. Yitro helps Moses, without overwhelming him, imposing neither his person nor his will, he really helps Moses to fulfill his call. He also made the testimony of his faith after seeing the power of the Eternal during the spectacular liberation of the Jewish people from Egypt. He declares that the Lord of Israel is above all the other gods and in a kind of prefiguration of the Last Supper, the Levites break bread with him, a sign of his integration into the Chosen People. As a result of this covenant, he continues his specific ministry towards Moses and, through divine inspiration, recommends his son-in-law to appoint 70 wise men from the people to divide his huge task among them in order to be free to deal only with the more complex issues. This council allowed Moses to achieve a deeper ministry on earth. If Moses had to continue to manage everything alone, he would never have had time to bow down before the Eternal to intercede for the people. He thus received more time to devote himself to prayer and constant contact with the Lord who in the case of Moses happened face to face. The excessive amount of work that Moses would have been forced to do would sooner or later have obliged him to make decisions in a dry and mechanical way and would have made his interpretation of the law close to the letter and out of the Spirit. We can say that Yitro spared Moses from falling into a form of Parisianism.

Zeev Shlomo 17.01.2014