Sedra of the week: Yitro

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Sedra of the week: Yitro

  Rebbetzin Siobhan Dansky, a participant in the Chief Rabbi’s Ma’ayan programme, looks ahead to this week's portion of the Torah

In this week’s parsha, we meet Moshe’s father-in-law, Yitro. He sees how hard Moshe is working and suggests he employ deputies to share the workload.

“They shall judge the people at all times, and it shall be that they shall bring every major matter to you, and everything minor they shall judge…” (Shemot 18:22).

Moshe follows Yitro’s advice, with one slight change: “…the difficult things they would bring to Moshe and the minor things they would judge…” (Shemot 18:26).

In matters of leadership, it is easy to confuse recognition with importance. Sometimes the two coincide, but it can be that the most crucial jobs are the small, behind-the-scenes issues that may never be publicly acknowledged.

No one decorates and celebrates the foundations of a house and yet, without them, there would be no house to adorn or even in which to live. Yitro’s advice was that Moshe should take on the high-profile tasks that would put his name in lights.

But Moshe is known as the humblest of all men; he knew his responsibility and job was to deal with the difficult issues, even if they would not earn him public recognition.

Rabbi Sacks points out that Yitro uses the phrase lo tov (not good) in describing how Moshe was shouldering the burden of leadership alone. The only other time the phrase lo tov is used is in Bereshit 2:18: “It is not good for man to be alone”.

In leadership and in life, companionship is crucial. Moshe had a direct line to God, making him believe
he was uniquely qualified to judge the people.

However, Yitro taught him it’s not perfection but rather collaboration that results in great leadership.

  •   Rebbetzin Siobhan Dansky is a participant in the Chief Rabbi’s Ma’ayan programme

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