Hello everyone, and good (erev) Shabbos!
This week’s Parsha is named after Yisro, “kohain Midyan, chosein Moshe – priest of Midyan, father-in-law of Moses”, as he is described in the beginning of the parsha.
Scattered throughout the Tanach, but mainly in the Chumash, we’ll find references to Yisro, by one of his 7 names, and little bits on his deeds…
But we can actually collect much knowledge about the life of this man, from even one of his names. Today we’ll focus on “Yisro/יתרו/Jethro”– and why he is deserving of having the parsha, in which we recount one of the most profound and elevated events in Jewish history– Matan Torah, named after him!!!
First, let’s ask ourselves: WHAT’S IN A NAME?
Our given-names reflect our soul-missions, and essence— what we must accomplish in this life, that our souls direct us to achieve, and the connection that we strive to make with our inner self.
Chazal teaches that when parents name a child, they experience prophecy on a small level. How so?
The ruach hakodesh they name their child with, assists them in giving their child a name, that in a way predicts who the child will become, and what they’ll experience, as they go through life.
If one wishes, they can change their name later in life, which may be done to signify some milestone they reached, or deed they performed, as we’ll see soon with Yisro (sorry if that was a spoiler!).
Names also have the power to stir our souls. This is why calling the name of a fainted person may waken them. It is also why we can make a soul connection between us, and a deceased loved one, when we do something in their name (or memory).
Each one of Yisro’s names represent the different roles he played– the different aspects of his personality, and statuses of leadership among his people.
Later in the parsha, Yisro gives his son-in-law, Moshe Rabbeinu, some advice– to create an efficient judicial system for the Bnei Yisroel, comprised of wise, honest, and accomplished men, to smooth out the disputes brought by the Bnei Yisroel, and to lighten Moshe’s load as the head judge.
Rashi tells us, that for offering this assistance and advice, he was given in turn the name “Yeter/Jether”, implying ‘in addition’ (yotair, in Hebrew, meaning “more”), since another section was added to the Torah, containing some of this wisdom. (And also since he suggested to Moshe to add more men to his court?)
For another great act he performed, a vav was added to his name “Yeter”, changing it to “Yisro” as we know it.
The Baal Haturim expounds upon “Yisro” for us:
Hidden within the name “Yisro/יתרו/Jethro” is this man’s life journey….
Yisro held an exalted position. He was the high priest of Midyan, and other commentators say that there was no form or service of avoda-zara he was not familiar with. But he was a good person…
In this week’s parsha, Yisro arrives at the camp, escorting his daughter and grandsons, Moshe’s wife and children, to be reunited. (Moshe had sent them to his father-in-law’s home, while he was in Egypt, working with Hashem to free the Bnei Yisroel, and lead them on Yetzias Mitzrayim.) While he did this kindness for the family, he was also pursuing a spiritual benefit for himself..
Yisro was on a mission. He came to hear divrei Elokim, words of G-d. He was seeking the truth. Hashem’s truth, Torah’s truth. He sought true and pure spiritualty.
Suprisingly, the gematria (numerical equivalent) of יתרו is “priest of idol worship”, which indicates Yisro’s past as a king of idol-worship.
Even more shockingly, the gematria of יתרו also equals that of “Torah”!
This alludes to Yisro’s mission– his search for Torah! This also comes to teach us that Yisro converted to Judaism. He sincerely accepted the yoke of Torah, and Hashem’s sovereignty onto himself!
(When he converted, the vav was added to his name Yeter. His conversion was the great act I was hinting at, before beginning the Baal Haturim’s comment.)
So now we see the power of a name… its prophecy, its meaning, its significance…
Yisro’s newly acquired name (Yisro), expresses his lofty achievement, his “180” in terms of religion and life.
THIS is why Yisro merited this Parsha, in which we receive the Torah, being named after him! He left an entire life behind, to pursue Hashem’s one and only Torah!
Find the meaning in your name, and dive down deep into your soul, to discover your mission. Dwell on your name, and see how it traces into your essence.
Let us all make the connection, between our names and our souls, and hopefully we’ll all gain the strength we need, the one that is unique to us, that will assist us in our lives. From our given names, we have an idea of where we are headed.
And like Yisro, we can make our mark in the world– and make a name for ourselves!
The Messenger Bird