Sparks of Torah – Parshas Yisro

True Greatness

By Rabbi Dovid Nussbaum

When Yisro comes to greet Moshe he exclaims that “NOW he knows that Hashem is greater than all the ’other’ powers in the world”. What was his proof of this greatness? Because the same way that the Egyptians killed many babies by tossing them in the Nile, so too did they meet their demise when the waters came crashing down on their heads and drowned them. Why was this ultimate proof that Hashem is incomparable to all the other powers in the universe?

The Talmud states that we are treated by Hashem in the same fashion that we deal measure for a measure. Certainly, such a ‘system’ can only exist under the precise monitoring of a higher being. Therefore, since Yisro noted the reality of this approach when the Egyptian army was destroyed in the same manner that they had treated the Jewish people it impacted him tremendously. He realized that since the world is conducted in such an orderly and methodical mode there must be an incredibly wise and judicious power that is in charge of the global interaction that occurs.

In that vein perhaps we can understand Rashi’s comment that Yisro actually was affected not only by the splitting of the sea, but additionally, the war that was waged against Amalek. Why did that particular episode have such a dramatic impact on Yisro that caused him to believe so wholeheartedly in Hashem?

When the Jewish nation left Egypt and the entire world was aware of the miraculous nature of their exodus, everyone was awe-inspired and tremendously admired the stature of our people. A nation that had been enslaved for so many generations was able to just walk out and escape the clutches of the most powerful army in the known world. The impression was such that there was now an extremely opportune time for the people of the world to recognize the omnipotence of Hashem. Perhaps a global banner would spread throughout the world and all would proclaim their allegiance to Hashem and His doctrines.

Amalek could not tolerate such an assertion that would preclude any dissension and subsequent pursuance of the pleasures of this world. After all, this approach to life ran counter to their ‘Eisavian’ doctrine which promotes the physical and minimizes the spiritual benefits of living. Therefore, it was necessary to extinguish this fiery passion which had captured the attention of all and douse it. Therefore, at their own risk, Amalek attacked the Jewish nation and portrayed to the world that this nation was not invincible as they thought. They diminished the glory of Heaven that had so radiated and shone forth when the nation left Egypt. Now shadows of aspersion had been cast upon the nation and no longer would they so brilliantly represent Hashem’s ideals. The world would look askance upon us and doubt our supremacy and that of Hashem.

It was impossible for Amalek to co-exist with us or with our Creator. The only avenue of advancement would be to destroy them once and for all. Therefore, that was the motto adopted and stated after their attack. Only when they would be totally annihilated would Hashem’s throne and Name regain their original status of prominence and majesty. Yisro witnessed this struggle between Amalek and the Jewish people and understood the lines of demarcation between that which is ultimately good and those forces of evil which seek to obliterate Hashem and His nation. Since the forces of corruption attempted to eliminate that which is so obviously truthful, that confirmed Yisro’s headstrong conviction to join us and abdicate his position as the head of idol worship in Midian.



If the mountain, Mt. Sinai became so elevated at the time of receiving the Torah that the nation was not allowed to approach it, how much more so must we respect the individual who has imbibed and absorbed the Torah.