In Control

Shevat 19, 5782
January 21, 2022
Candlelighting Time 4:48 PM

Yisro heard all that had happened to the nation and was enchanted by our miraculous success. What specifically attracted Yisro to join us and convert? Rashi cites the Midrash that upon hearing that the Sea split and that we had waged war against Amalek, that really caught his attention. That is quite interesting since one might have thought that since Hashem sent 10 devastating plagues and destroyed the mighty Egyptian empire and wiped out their armed forces in a few moments, that would have been much more enthralling. So why indeed did these two events capture his fancy?  

Chasam Sofer has a very insightful explanation of what occurred. He cites Nachmonides who comments in the previous parsha Beshalach, as Pharaoh approached the nation when they were positioned on the seashore, that Pharoah should entertain the thought of pursuing them into the sea was astonishing! Especially since he had just banished them from Egypt after the killing of the first born, it was illogical to assume that he would pursue them attempting to return them to Egypt to enslave them. Chasam Sofer concludes that this is a confirmation of Hashem’s ability to actually control our thoughts and bend our minds to harness them for His needs. And this also assaults our ability to think freely. In other words, in as much as we are endowed with free will, that resource is restricted by Hashem when necessary. Pharoah did not have the capacity to utilize his free will since he had abused his ‘rights’. He was given the opportunity to recognize Hashem and he squandered that capability when he consistently denied Hashem’s omnipotence. He witnessed tremendous upheavals of the natural order of events of this world, yet he refuted the obvious and rejected the truth. Therefore, he yielded his proprietary autonomy. Such unequivocal domination is what Nachmonides means that this was a extraordinary event that surpassed the ten plagues that took place in Egypt! 

This is what Yisro ‘heard’, that Hashem’s invincibility and authority is so supreme that even our very thoughts are not beyond His ‘reach’. That message convinced Yisro to abandon all the idol worship that he was aware of, which was quite extensive, and embrace Hashem as the true and only power of reckoning in this world. 

Furthermore, what could have possibly driven the nation of Amalek to attack our nation after witnessing such an inexplicable incident as Pharoah pursuing us even after the bombardment of his empire and observing the splitting of the sea before his very eyes, yet he continued onward. Again, we must conclude that Hashem ‘convinced’ Amalek to assault us despite the unmistakable danger inherent in riding with his troops into combat against a nation that merited Divine intervention. These two incontrovertible proofs of Hashem’s superb dominion of entire nations of such outstanding power and strength assured Yisro that his choice to join us was clearly and undoubtedly accurate.  


The Sages refer to our receiving the Torah as our ‘stand’ as Mt. Sinai. We are in constant search to reach a level of perfection in this world. At the time we received the Torah, we actually accessed perfection, we were essentially on the level of angels. Therefore, we were standing at Mt. Sinai, not further progressing since we have reached the zenith. S’FAS EMES

                                                      GOOD SHABBOS