Yitro – Getting on the Right Boat

Yitro was an idol worshipper par excellence but nevertheless became Moses’ father-in-law and one of the most famous converts to Judaism. Far from being mentally deficient, idol worshippers often were highly evolved human beings who had simply chosen the wrong boat for life’s journey. A ba’al teshuva, is held in high esteem, having passed an important life-test. Our Parsha is about Moshe Rabbeinu’s father in law, Yitro. You would think that Moshe would have married into a better family than that of a priest of an idol worshipping cult. Nevertheless, we even name a Parsha of the holy Torah after this seemingly unsavoury individual. The reason is found in the teaching: where a Ba’al Teshuva stands, even a Tzaddik cannot stand.’ Meaning, Yitro became a ba’al teshuva – completely repealing his idol worship and adopting Judaism. Don’t’ make the mistake of believing that the idol worshippers were fools. They were often highly sophisticated individuals with staunch beliefs in their idols’ efficacy. So when an idol worshipper becomes a Jewish ba’al teshuva one has gained a very valuable asset for the Jewish people, as indeed Yitro was. The Parsha is named after him because of that highly principled transition he made in life, whose insight could then be used even to advise his son-in-law on important administrative matters that transformed the judicial system of the time. Always treat a Ba’al teshuva, and especially a Ger or Giyoret, with the highest respect. Their status is even higher than that of a Tzaddik.