Throughout Jewish literature, we find a recurring theme: G-d communicates with us, but in hidden (though sometimes not so hidden) ways. Only once in history did G-d reveal himself bluntly and openly, and declare “I am the L-rd Your G-d” — it is our mission in life to take inspiration from the hidden messages, and not wait for that moment to recur.
Yisro became part of the Jewish people right before that Revelation. Why? Because he got the message. Our reading this week begins “And Yisro heard…” What did he hear? Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki explains: Yisro heard about the parting of the Sea of Reeds and the war with Amalek.
As I’ve discussed before, retelling something heard in a class by Rav Asher Z. Rubenstein of Jerusalem, everyone heard the same things. But “in one ear and out the other” isn’t truly hearing. Hearing means getting the message. Yisro was unique; Yisro heard.
We never truly understand G-d’s Ways. None of us can wrap our minds around all of the various things that will happen 10 days or 100 years from now, because of a particular thing that happened today — much less understand why each and every ramification is supposed to happen, and is part of G-d’s Plan. Yet everything comes with exactly that calculation; nothing is coincidence. And often, we can see something, a message, an inspiration. That’s not coincidence either.
He’s sending us messages. Are we reading, and listening?