Yitro – Flexibility: Can You Touch Your Asymptote?

Yitro, Moses’ father-in-law, abdicates his position as the leading practitioner of the dark arts of idolatry and converts to Judaism.  But can he be really sure of his motivations? Are we ever 100% sure of our motivations? Yet life is about coming closer and closer to our truth. Notes: Moses’ father-in-law, Yitro, was no simple idol worshipping fool. He was the leading adept at all varieties of pagan worship and a deeply philosophical thinker. His honest intentions and profound introspection ultimately propelled him to adopt the entirety of Torah. The question arises: how we can ever be sure of our motivations.  Could Yitro discount the possibility that he was converting to Judaism because of a wish to be ‘on the winning side’, having heard of the miraculous successes of the Bnei Yisrael? This is a question we all need to address. How can we be sure of our motivations? When we assist someone, is there not a thread of selfishness involved – the pleasure of being acknowledged? When we give a donation, is there not an element of seeking appreciation? When we extend love to a spouse or child is there no wish for reciprocity? • Yet the famous spiritual manual, the Tanya, teaches that positive actions, even should the motives not be 100%, is highly regarded. We may never be sure of the absoluteness of our motives, but life is a journey, and doing the right things improves our character and refines our intentions. Life’s quest is to reach out and touch the asymptote, even though we know mathematically that asymptotes can never be reached.  Growth is about the honest quest, constant refinement, and seeking truth. Even after Yitro chose the truth of Torah, he continued to grow. Same in our lives. We refine our motivations trying to approach the asymptote of 100% altruism.