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A Dvar Torah for Parshat Yitro

Our Dvar Torah: Perceiving Yet Not Perceiving

A Dvar Torah for Parshat Yitro: Exodus 18:1 - 20:23
and Likutey Moharan Book I Lesson # 24.1-2a
By Rabbi Shlomo Nachman ben Ya'akov © February 5, 2021

In this week's parsha Moshes’ father-in-law Yitro or Jethro hears of the great miracles G-d performed for the people of Israel. Based on this realization he goes from being a leading Pagan priest from Midian to a righteous convert in the Israelite camp.

Yitro advises Moshe to appoint magistrates and judges to assist him in the task of governing and administering the well being of the people. From the establishment of this board comes the Rabbinate.

In Parsha Yitro G-d proclaims the Ten Commandments, directing the people of Israel to believe in G-d, not to worship idols nor take G-d’s name in vain, to keep the Shabbat, to honor their parents, not to murder, not to commit adultery, not to steal, and not to bear false witness nor covet another’s property. How do the people respond to this Divine Revelation? They cry out to Moses that the revelation is too intense for them to bear! They beg Moshe to receive the Torah from G-d and then to convey it to them.

The Israelites wanted to perceive the Truth, but when it came down to it, they faltered and asked Moshe to receive it and then explain it to them. Why? Because they deemed themselves to be unworthy. Through Moshe and his Torah they perceived, and yet they did not perceive.

We all want to the know the Truth! Do we not? But do we do what real “knowing” demands? Do we, at some level, feel unworthy of receiving it? Despite our human weaknesses, we perceive the Light of Truth more fully than the nations do!

How so? Is this just our egos talking? Ethnocentrism? No! Our more accurate knowing is by virtue of our holding onto HaShem and the Torah He revealed to Moshe Rabbeinu.

In Lesson #24 Rebbe Nachman of Breslov cites Bekhorot 8b where there is a debate about True Knowing. There we read:

“The emperor said to him: But how can you disagree with the sages of Athens? Aren’t they wise? Rabbi Yehoshua ben Ḥananya responded: We are wiser than they.

Arrangements were made for a debate, then,

“Rabbi Yehoshua said: Greetings to you, but did not directly address either group. They said to him: What are you doing here? Rabbi Yehoshua said to them: I am a Sage of the Jews, and I desire to learn wisdom from you. They said to him: If so, we will ask you questions and see if you are worthy of this privilege. Rabbi Yehoshua said to them: Very well. If you win, you may do to me anything you wish, and if I defeat you, then eat with me on my ship....”

And of course, he defeated them because his knowledge came from the Torah of Moshe Rabbeinu. He was humble in his approach and humble in his victory. If the nations have true knowledge let us learn and if our knowledge is superior let us share it with them humbly and with Love, if they are willing to receive it.

We read Likutey Moharan Book I, Lesson # 24.1-2a. In the three volume set from BreslovBooks.com this is on page 283.

Understand that we do not perceive the Divine Light as we desire – not in its fullness – due to our failures and spiritual unpreparedness. This is true AND this OK!

Each of us are precisely where HaShem has placed us, in harmony with our own efforts and desires! As we continue to study the Torah, as we continue doing hitbodedut – personal, private communion with the Holy One – we perceive the Light! Each according to our individual needs and level. Each of us are perceiving the Light of G-d in the appropriate measure! Never doubt this and never give up!

So let us move forward with JOY! JOY in the Love of G-d! Joy in the LOVE of Torah! Joy in the LOVE of our Mishpacha! Joy in the LOVE of emunah and bitachon!

“Be the blessing you were created to be,

And don't allow the Perfect to Defeat the Good!

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Be the Blessing you were created to be
Don't let the perfect defeat the good

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