gap year in israel

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In this week’s Torah portion, we read of the epic giving of the Ten Commandments. We must ask the question; why is it that the Torah portion in which the Torah itself is given to the Jewish nation, is named after Yitro, Moses’ father-in-law?

Yitro was an advisor to the wicked Pharaoh. According to the Jewish sages, there was not a single idol that Yitro did not worship. Nevertheless, we see how in this week’s reading, he meets up with the Jews after they cross the Sea and are victorious in the battle with Amalek. Immediately after hearing of these wondrous events, Yitro praises the G-d of the Jews saying, “Now I know that the Lord is greater than all the deities!”

The Zohar says that even after all that the Jews had done to show their commitment to G-d, it was this moment, when Yitro the idolator praised G-d, that was the turning point to permit the giving of the Torah. Why was this occurrence so special to G-d?

The answer is that there is nothing that brings G-d greater delight than when someone who was extremely far from the upright path returns to Him. G-d does not want the demise of all immoral people. Rather, He longs for their return. This return hastens the time when every aspect of creation will unite and celebrate in peace and in unison, how all are interconnected and indispensable parts of one organic whole. May it be speedily!

– Rabbi Liad Braude

Parshat yitro