Sunday, July 5, 2009

Abuse - Torah knowledge alone is not sufficient to safeguard society

Rashi(Bamidbar 10:31):And you [Yisro] will be our eyes - This is past tense according to the Targum. Others say it is future tense. Every matter that is concealed from our eyes you will illuminate our eyes.

Ohr HaChaim (Shemos 18:21): Why did Yisro deserved being the source of the information about forming the judicial system - especially when it implies - chas v'shalom - the ignorance of G-d's people prior to his suggestions? It seems that G-d wanted to teach the Jewish people a fundamental lesson for all generations. The lesson being that there are among the nations of the world men of great intelligence and understanding and these nations have awareness of important and valuable information. G-d's intent was to show through Yisro that the election of the Jews was not because their knowledge and insight was greater than other nations. They were not chosen because of their superior wisdom and knowledge. Their election was the result of G-d's supreme kindness and His love of the Patriarchs. This explanation is more appropriate according to the view that Yisro came prior to the Revelation at Sinai. Accordingly G‑d's message was that even though there are amongst the Nations greater wise men than amongst the Jews - the Jews were nevertheless chosen. We are those to praise Him for choosing us because of his Kindness. However, even according to the view that Yisro came after the Revelation at Sinai - a similar lesson can be learned by the fact that Yisro is mentioned in the sequence of events of the Torah prior to the giving of the Torah.

R. S. R. Hirsch (Shemos 18:24): Nothing is so instructive for us, as this information regarding the first legal institution of the Jewish State, coming immediately before the chapter of the law-giving. So little was Moshe in himself a legistlative genius, he had so little talent for organizing that he had to learn the very elements of state from his father-in-law. The man who tired himself out to utter exhaustion and to whom of himself did not occur to arrange this or some similar simple solution, equally beneficial to himself and his people, the man to who it was necessary to have a Jethro to suggest this obvious device,that man could never have given the People constitution and laws out of his own head, that man was only, and indeed just because of this the best and most faithful instrument of G-d.


  1. People should work on both their learning and their middos. Like it says in Pirkei Avos, if a person's knowledge exceeds his deeds, then his knowledge won't be sustained. Good middos are very important.

  2. While what you are saying is definitely true - I was making the point that secular knowledge is required for a society to function properly. That is the point which Yisro illustrates.

  3. Perfect post. Toras Hashem T'mimah.

    "Eyes to See", authored by the gadol and tsaddik, Rav Yom Tov Schwarz, ztl, has an illuminating chapter on parshas Yisro.


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