Raboyseyee & Ladies,
The heylige Ois and eishes chayil are back from Florida, where they attended the beautiful and very spirited Shore/Wolfson wedding and begin by wishing another mazel tov to our newish friends Tracy and Sam Shore upon the wedding last week and sheva brochis all week -the speeches were great- in honor of the marriage of their amazing son Gabriel who married Ariella Wolfson, she, the beautiful daughter of Lisi and Daniel Wolfson.
May Ariella and Gabe be zoche to build a beautiful life together. Mazel tov to both extended families.
The First Management Consultant
According to Wikipedia, the first ever management consulting firm was founded by Frederick Winslow Taylor, who in 1893 opened shop in Philadelphia. He was followed by Arthur D. Little Inc., founded in 1886. Ober, is that emes? Not! Kimat all business opportunities can be traced back to the heylige Toirah and the consulting business is zicher one of those. We will meet the first ever management consultant in this week’s parsha.
Welcome to Parshas Yisroy where the Yiddin -in a mountaintop, or with a mountain over their heads, mamish – depending on which pshat talks to you- will be marrying the RBSO. Like many a marriage (efsher most), the relationship has been rocky. It can be argued that at least at times -many- a permanent separation and divorce was in order, efsher even preferred. Miraculously, we have remained committed and married to the RBSO for 3334 years. How? Why and how has it endured?
The bottom line is azoy: like in most marriages hanging by a thread, it’s all about the kinderlach (the children) and let’s get real: bad marriages remain intact davka for the sake of the children. As to our relationship with the RBSO, it’s likely not much different. We are His children -so to speak- and He -despite very egregious behavior by us -on a regular basis and from the get-go mamish- refuses to give up on us. Geloibt der Abisheter (thank the good Lord). Shoin.
Ober, before we get to the wedding preparations, the sound and light show, and the wedding itself during which the Yiddin were gifted the Aseres Hadibrois (Ten Commandments), as the parsha opens, we get to meet and get a shtikel acquainted with Moishe’s father-in-law, Yisroy, he the former high priest of Midian, a former idol worshipper, and a goy mamish. Interestingly, a full 27 pisukim (of 72, in the parsha, .375% mamish) are dedicated to the interactions between Moishe and his shver (father-in-law), Yisroy, who -as an aside- went by, and was known by seven names. One medrish will tell us that he had even more. Who needs that many names, ver veyst? And for that reason, we begin with this very old -older than most dinosaurs- joke. Why did Yisroy have seven names? Because he had seven daughters to marry off and borrowed money for each wedding under a different name. Shoin! Was Yisroy collecting benefits under different aliases? PPP funds? Then again, Moishe himself – so says the heylige Gemora and the medrish- a man who was mamish on the run after incurring the wrath of Paroy who wanted to kill him, was no slouch in the name department. Moishe had other names?
Shoin, let’s harken back and recall that he was given the name Moishe by Paroy’s daughter Bisya after she drew him from the water. Ober, let us also recall that Moishe was already three months old when found and named by her. Did he have a name before Paroy’s daughter found him? Says the heylige Gemora (Soitah 12a), azoy:
ותרא אותו כי טוב הוא תניא ר”מ אומר טוב שמו ר’ יהודה אומר טוביה שמו רבי נחמיה אומר הגון לנביאות אחרים אומרים נולד כשהוא מהול וחכמים אומרים בשעה שנולד משה נתמלא הבית כולו אור
“And she saw that he was good” (Shmois 2:2): R’ Meir says his [Moishe’s] name was Tov. R’ Yehuda says his name was Tuvia. R’ Nechemia says that he was to become a prophet. Others say that he was born circumcised. The Sages say that when he was born, the whole house filled with light. The bottom line? According to R’ Meir and R’ Yehudah, it seems that his mother Yoicheved named Moishe at birth either Tov or Tuvia. Ober, let’s look at this shtikel Gemora Megillah 13a which lists a number of other names for Moishe: Yered, Gedor, Chever, Socho, Yekutiel, Zanoach (רד, גדור, חבר, שוכו, יקותיאל, זנוח)
That’s a total of six others plus the ones above. And says the medrish (Yalkut Shimoni 166) that each of them was given to him by another person or group: his father called him Chever, his mother called him Yekusiel, Miriam called him Yered, etc. A shtikel confused he might have been. Why the extra names, ver veyst? Were other names attributed to Moishe by the medrish or Gemora literal, homiletical, or but allegorical? Ver veyst; ober says the Chizkuni that we are all suffering from a lack of reading comprehension: Yoicheved (his own mother) called him Moishe and Bisya, consulted with her and kept the name. Wait: Says the medrish (Vayikra Rabbah 1:3) that Moishe had ten names. Moishe was one of seven biblical personalities who were called by various names. Moreover, let us not forget that Moishe -in orthodox and yeshiva circles- is also known as Moishe Rabbenu, and Eved HaShem. Bottom line question: Did Yisroy relate to and like Moishe davka because he too had multiple names and identities? Maybe, and let’s go veyter.
Parshas Yisroy is one of several parshas (shoutout to Noiach and Bolok) named after a goy. And why not? Was he not deserving? Did he not make a significant contribution, albeit not necessarily in cash, to Moishe and the Yiddin? He did! The heylige Toirah will tell us that Yisroy -efsher the first management consultant- questioned and admonished Moishe’s leadership skills and went on to suggest a more efficient way of settling disputes among the Yiddin. Moishe accepted the suggestions and implemented them with alacrity.
Though we were taught the heylige Toirah contains not one extra sentence, word, or even letter, it’s a shtikel perplexing to square that concept when we read the first number of pisukim in the parsha where three times in the first five pisukim and four times in the first aliya we come across the following salutation for Yisroy. Let’s read them innaveynig.
וַיִּשְׁמַ֞ע יִתְר֨וֹ כֹהֵ֤ן מִדְיָן֙ חֹתֵ֣ן מֹשֶׁ֔ה אֵת֩ כׇּל־אֲשֶׁ֨ר עָשָׂ֤ה אֱלֹהִים֙ לְמֹשֶׁ֔ה וּלְיִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל עַמּ֑וֹ כִּֽי־הוֹצִ֧יא יְהֹוָ֛ה אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מִמִּצְרָֽיִם׃ –
- Jethro priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard all that God had done for Moses and for Israel His people, how the LORD had brought Israel out from Egypt.
וַיִּקַּ֗ח יִתְרוֹ֙ חֹתֵ֣ן מֹשֶׁ֔ה אֶת־צִפֹּרָ֖ה אֵ֣שֶׁת מֹשֶׁ֑ה אַחַ֖ר שִׁלּוּחֶֽיהָ׃
- So Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, took Zipporah, Moses’ wife, after she had been sent home,
יָּבֹ֞א יִתְר֨וֹ חֹתֵ֥ן מֹשֶׁ֛ה וּבָנָ֥יו וְאִשְׁתּ֖וֹ אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֑ה אֶל־הַמִּדְבָּ֗ר אֲשֶׁר־ה֛וּא חֹנֶ֥ה שָׁ֖ם הַ֥ר הָאֱלֹהִֽים׃
5- Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought Moses’ sons and wife to him in the wilderness, where he was encamped at the mountain of God.
וַיִּקַּ֞ח יִתְר֨וֹ חֹתֵ֥ן מֹשֶׁ֛ה עֹלָ֥ה וּזְבָחִ֖ים לֵֽאלֹהִ֑ים וַיָּבֹ֨א אַהֲרֹ֜ן וְכֹ֣ל ׀ זִקְנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֗ל לֶאֱכׇל־לֶ֛חֶם עִם־חֹתֵ֥ן מֹשֶׁ֖ה לִפְנֵ֥י הָאֱלֹהִֽים׃ And
12- Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices for God; and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to partake of the meal before God with Moses’ father-in-law.
And the questions are azoy: Once properly introduced as Moishe’s father-in-law in posik one, why does the heylige Toirah -over and again- refer to him with the moniker “Moishe’s father-in law?” This relationship is repeated seven times in Sefer Shmois and once in the Book of Bamidbar; not a usual occurrence in the heylige Toirah where every letter is significant. What’s pshat? And just who was this Yisroy fellow? Says the heylige Zoihar azoy: Yisroy was one of the three wise men of Paroy of whom it says, “there was no worship or prince, minister or star ruling its domain for which he did not know the appropriate ritual and service.” He was a priest of priests and a shaman of shamans. Nice yichus! And yet, this Midianite Priest, the consummate outsider is also always described in Toirah as the father-in-law of Moishe? Why the heylige Toirah insists on reminding us that Moishe married a Midianite woman, a shiksa mamish and that our greatest teacher was intermarried, ver veyst? On the other hand, the constant reminder that Yisroy was Moishe’s FIL tells us just how close they were. What was it about that Yisroy? And why was Moishe taka so close to Yisroy? And why is it that this elevated parsha, the one describing Revelation and our marriage to the RBSO, bears the name of the heathen goy? Did Moishe, in his greatest moment of glory, take a back seat so that Yisroy could be in the limelight? What was it about Yisroy’s advice that so moved Moishe? Did Moishe feel a unique closeness to his shver?
The heylige Toirah tells us and describes in some detail Yisroy’s conversation with Moishe wherein he criticized Moishe’s management style and advised him to set up a judicial system. Said Yisroy: “novol tibol gam ata gam ha’am ha’zeh (you will surely wear yourself out both you and these people who are with you). You need help! Moishe was micromanaging, he sought perfection. Ober, as the French author Voltaire wrote, “The perfect is the enemy of the good.” Perfection is rarely achievable and if by some miracle it is achieved, it cannot be sustained. Yisroy suggested judicial systems. The purpose was to alleviate the burden upon Moishe and thus better serve the needs of the people. Moishe would teach the word of the RBSO, but would no longer adjudicate small matters. Only the most difficult matters would be brought to his attention, the remainder being attended to by a judicial system populated by God-fearing, upstanding, wise men. Where such men were to be found, ver veyst?
The bottom line: Moishe listened to his father-in-law and implemented his suggestions by doing “all that he had said.” As an aside, specifically what matters Moishe was adjudicating -small or large- we are not told. There were no shuls, the Yiddin were not yet land owners, had no real estate, did not yet own nursing homes, or other businesses; what was there to fight about? Let us recall that the events in the parsha take place either just before or just after Matan Toirah and long before the Yiddin were taught the great majority of the 613 commandments. What were they fighting about, ver veyst? Ober not to fret; if Moishe told Yisroy he was busy settling issues, we need to believe that when so many Yiddin were gathered together in one area with little to do, that fights broke out. Were they fighting over lounge chairs? On the other hand, let’s recall that at the very end of last week’s parsha, the Yiddin were coldly attacked by Amolake, an attack the RBSO mamish absolutely abhorred; we are to recall it yearly. Let us also recall that the Yiddin were suddenly in possession of spoils of war; they had new riches to fight over and shoin, now it all makes sense. When there are spoils of war or any other assets, there are disputes. As an aside, several notable sages take the position that Yisroy’s arrival -though mentioned in our parsha before Matan Toirah- actually took place after; after laws were already taught and seemingly broken, hence requiring adjudication. That debate and its implications for another day.
As you can only imagine, our sages were all over this and asked many questions including these: Why was Moishe so quick to heed Yisroy’s advice? And, why was Yisroy the source of the advice? Why didn’t the RBSO directly instruct Moishe to set up a judiciary system? Or, why didn’t Moishe think of this?
Says the Tzeror Hamor, azoy: Moishe listened to Yisroy’s advice because “he saw that his advice was good.” So good that Moishe “did all that he said (posik 24) without adding or detracting, because his [Yisroy’s] words were divinely inspired (ruach hakoidesh). This highlights Moishe’s humility; he accepted the truth from the one who stated it and implemented it (Yisroy’s plan] without changes. And it also showcases the wisdom of Yisroy, who perceived that which Moishe had not.”
Ober, why did Yisroy merit having Moishe accept his advice to establish a judicial system at his behest? Why didn’t the RBSO open Moishe’s eyes to the ineffectiveness of his management style? Says the Tzeror Hamor so gishmak, azoy: It goes back to Moishe’s marriage to the shiksa Tzipoirah. The RBSO davka wanted for this advice to come from Yisroy so that the Yiddin would be aware of the great wisdom that Yisroy possessed and understand how appropriate it was for Moishe to have married Yisroy’s daughter. What’s pshat? Seemingly the RBSO was concerned for Moishe’s reputation—lest the Yiddin wonder how Moishe could have married a (shiksa) Midianite woman.
Says the Ralbag, “It is appropriate for a person to take heed of good advice and forsake his own approach when it is not as good. For indeed, Moishe, our teacher of blessed memory, notwithstanding his perfection and wisdom, put aside his own approach in the face of Yisroy’s advice—since it was better!” In addition, Moishe sensed that Yisroy’s advice was divinely inspired, thereby indicating that even goyim may -at times- serve as conduits for divinely inspired instruction.
Ober, asks the heylige Or Hachaim, azoy: why was Yisroy the source of the advice and not Moishe? And his answer? The RBSO davka wanted to show the Yiddin of that generation and every subsequent generation—that there are among non-Jews giants of understanding and insight. Go out and learn from the insight of Yisroy in his advice. The bottom line: the RBSO did not choose the Yiddin because their insight and cognition was greater than those of the nations of the world. Rather, we were chosen as a chesed [pure kindness] on high and from the RBSO’s love of the patriarchs.
On the other hand, the Abarbanel says farkert: he does not think that Yisroy’s advice was divinely inspired or especially insightful. He notes that Yisroy’s judiciary plan was certainly a good one, but insists that the advice given was obvious. So obvious that even “the most ignorant would realize that it was a foolish idea for one person [Moishe] to stand from morning until evening to adjudicate” matters that were brought before him. And since Moishe was “master of the prophets and the greatest of the wise men,” Moishe and all the elders of must have considered this idea on their own. Says the Abarbanel that Moishe actually had intended to implement a similar judicial system himself soon after the giving of the Law a few days later. (This interpretation is based on the opinion that Yisroy arrived before the giving of the Toirah.) Nevertheless, for the sake of treating Yisroy with honor and respect, Moishe did not reveal to Yisroy that he (Moishe) had already thought of the idea to establish a judicial system.
The bottom line: At times, it’s efsher a good idea to withhold some information for the sake of the honor of another individual. Moishe honored Yisroy by agreeing to implement his plan rather revealing that he had thought of the very same plan himself. Moishe’s withholding of the information also speaks to his humility by selflessly allowing another to receive credit for a plan he was intending to implement. Gishmak!
Another flavor on why Moishe did not realize he needed help, why he wasn’t concerned that by judging the people alone in all matters, both he and they would become worn out, why he didn’t conceive this most simple plan to appoint judges to assist him in arbitrating the people’s disputes, and why it was Yisroy, the leader of Midian, who visited only briefly, to come to this realization and ensure that it be enacted, comes from the Lubavitcher Rebbe who said azoy: “A guest for a while sees for a mile,” while a local person may occasionally overlook even the obvious. But Heaven forbid, to say that Moishe — whom G‑d Himself chose as the shepherd of Israel from the moment of his birth and who had already actually served as the Jews’ faithful shepherd for a given time — did not have this awareness until Yisroy came and spurred him to act concerning this matter.
As to why Moishe felt so close to Yisroy, honored and respect him, we can kler azoy: Even before Moishe left Midian to return to Egypt to start his mission, he requested permission from Yisroy. “Moishe left and returned to his father-in-law, Yisroy ‘I would like to leave and return to my people in Egypt’… ‘Go in peace’, said Yisroy” (4:18). Was the entire redemption dependent on Yisroy’s good wishes? OMG! We can kler that Moishe had tremendous feelings of gratitude and efsher even indebtedness toward his shver Yisroy. Let’s recall that Moishe, after killing a Mitzri (who was attacking a Jew), and being ratted out by Doson and Avram, was on the run. He fled to Midian, stopping at the well; mistama he recalled how Yaakov’s life began to take shape after meeting Rochel at the well. Seeing an injustice perpetrated against a group of young women who turned out to be Yisroy’s daughters, he rose to their defense and, and drew water for them. Thinking only of their good fortune and not wanting to risk revenge, the women left him there and went home. Yisroy, their father, would not accept such ingratitude. “’Where is he now?’ he asked his daughter. ‘Why did you abandon the stranger? Call him, and let him have something to eat.’” (3:20). Yisroy, at least in Moishe’s mind, had saved his life. Furthermore, Yisroy gave Moishe his daughter as a wife. And Yisroy gave Moishe a job! “Moishe tended the sheep of his father Yisroy, sheik of Midian” (3:1). Shoin, if the shver gives you his daughter and a job, you owe him some gratitude.
The bottom line: A man who would welcome a stranger into his home -especially one on the run- and care for him, is one who merits respect and association with revelation. It is the reward for “greater is the welcoming of guests than receiving the Divine presence.” And the final bottom line? If pshat is that Moishe wholeheartedly accepted advice from an outsider, we too, by extension, should be willing to seriously consider persuasive arguments for improvement regardless of the source of that advice. At times, outsiders give good and unprejudiced advice. At times, outside consultants can be helpful.
A gittin Shabbis-
The Heylige Oisvorfer Ruv