Parshas Yisro

וַיִּשְׁמַע יִתְרוֹ כֹהֵן מִדְיָן חֹתֵן משֶׁה אֵת כָּל אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה אֱלֹהִים לְמשֶׁה וּלְיִשְׂרָאֵל עַמּוֹ כִּי הוֹצִיא יְדֹוָד אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל מִמִּצְרָיִם:

On the possuk, “And Yisro heard…” the Medrash (Medrash Rabah 26/2) comments, “HaKodesh Baruch Hue said to Moshe, ‘I am the One that spoke and (caused that) the world come into existence. I am the One that draws people close and I don’t distance people. I am the One that brought Yisro close to Me and I didn’t push him away. This person (Yisro) who is coming to you has virtuous intentions. Accept him and don’t push him away.'”

Zera Shimshon asks why did Hashem preface H.s persuasion with the fact that H. created the world and that H. created it with speech. What does the fact that Hashem created the world through speech have to do with Moshe Rabeinu accepting Yisro?

And secondly, what does the expression, “I am the One that brings people near and I don’t distance people” mean? Obviously if Hashem brings people near H. doesn’t distance them!

To answer these question he mentions a few important concepts.

Firstly, Tosafos (Yevomos 24b) peskans that even though that at a time when Clall Yisroel is prosperous we do not accept converts, if we know that they have pure intentions we do accept them.

The second one. The Gemorra (Yevamos 47A) says that before we accept a convert we explain to him some mitzvos that are difficult to keep and some that require very little effort to keep. However, Beis Din shouldn’t overwhelm him and shouldn’t be too strict with him.

The last concept that we need to know to answer the above questions is that the Mishna in Pirkei Avos (5/1) says that the reason that Hashem created the world with ten vocal statements was in order to reward the tzaddikim and to punish the wicked.

This idea is alluded to in the Torah’s description of Creation.

There is a seeming difficulty in the wording that the Torah uses to describe Hashem’s creating of the world. On each day of creation it says, “And Elokim said (Vayomer Elokim) let there be etc.”. In several places in Tanach, Rashi explains that “vayomer” shows mild speech (as opposed to “vayadabeir” that denotes harsh speech).

On the other hand “Elokim” is used when Hashem punishes us, as oppposed to Yud Kay Vav Kay, that is used when Hashem is merciful.

According to this we have to undersrtand, “How does word Vayomer (which shows mildness) fit with Elokim (the name we use with Hashem when H. judges the world)?” It should have said either Yayomer Yud Kay Vav Kay or Vayadabeir Elokim!

In light of the above Mishne in Perkei Avos, however, it is easy to understand. Hashem created the world to reward the tzaddikim (therefore it says, “Vayomer“) and also to punish wicked people (therefore Hashem is referred to as Elokim).

In light of the above Zera ax Shimshon explains the Medrash.

At the time of Exodus Hashem punished Paroah, Billum, and Iyov. However since Hashem created the world not only to punish the wicked but also to give reward to tzaddikim it was time to reward a tzaddik.

Therefore Hashem began to persuade Moshe and said, “I am the One that spoke and (caused that) the world came into existence”- in other words, since I Hashem created the world with the word vayomer” which shows mildness, it is time to be mild and merciful with Yisro.

Hashem continued, “I am the One that draws people close and I don’t distance people. I am the One that brought Yisro close to Me and I didn’t push him away.” In other words, you (Moshe) should tell him some easy mitzvos (I am the One that draws people close)- and I don’t push people away (even though that you have to also tell him difficult mitzvos, don’t overwhelm them and don’t be strict with him).

Moshe might still argue, however, that since we just left Mitzrayim and we are considered a very successful nation, we shouldn’t be able to accept converts. Therefore Hashem said, “This person (Yisro) who is coming to you has virtuous intentions.”, and according to Tosafos such a person is accepted to be a convert even when the times are good for Clall Yisroel.


 וַיִּשְׁמַע יִתְרוֹ כֹהֵן מִדְיָן חֹתֵן משֶׁה אֵת כָּל אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה אֱלֹהִים לְמשֶׁה וּלְיִשְׂרָאֵל עַמּוֹ כִּי הוֹצִיא יְדֹוָד אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל מִמִּצְרָיִם: (ח) וַיְסַפֵּר משֶׁה לְחֹתְנוֹ אֵת כָּל אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה יְדֹוָד לְפַרְעֹה וּלְמִצְרַיִם עַל אוֹדֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל אֵת כָּל הַתְּלָאָה אֲשֶׁר מְצָאָתַם בַּדֶּרֶךְ וַיַּצִּלֵם יְדֹוָד:

And Yisro the High Priest of Midian heard about all that Hashem did for Moshe and H.s people, Yisroel, and that H. brought Yisroel out of Mitzrayim (Shemos 18/1)… And Moshe told his father-in-law all that Hashem did to Paroah and to Mitzrayim for the sake of Yisroel, the hardships they encountered on the way, and how Hashem rescued them. (Shemos 18/8)

Zera Shimshon quotes the sefer Zera Beirach who asks why does the possuk single out that the miracle that Hashem took us out of Mitzrayim was what caused for Yisro’s coming after it says in the beginning of the possuk that Yisro heard EVERYTHING that Hashem did for us. (which also includes the splitting of Yam Suf, the war with Amalek, and the Manna)

Another question that he asks is that in possuk 8 the Torah tells us that after Yisro came to Moshe, “Moshe told Yisro everything that happened”. Rashi explains that this means that he told him the splitting of Yam Suf and the war with Amelek! If Yisro already heard this, why did Moshe tell him what he already knew?

A third question that he asks is that the possuk tells us that after Moshe told Yisro “everything that happened” Yisro responded and said “Blessed is Hashem etc.”. Why didn’t he bless Hashem when he initially heard the miracles?

He answers all three question with one idea. Yisro was the high priest in Midian and he was very well versed in sorcery and black magic which was the basis of their religion. Not only did he know sorcery but he believed that the Evil Power is the most powerful force in the universe. To such a degree, that it was even more powerful than Hashem!

All this changed though, when Bnei Yisroel left Mitzrayim. Mitzrayim was guarded by Evil Forces and didn’t allow anyone to leave. When Hashem took Bnei Yisroel out of Mitzrayim he saw that Hashem was really stronger than the Evil Powers! This is when he converted.

He believed though that the war with Amalek and the splitting of the Yam had nothing to do with Hashem being stronger that the Evil Force. Therefore even though that he saw them as miracles he singled out the miracle that Hashem took them out of Mitzrayim, because in his eyes this was the biggest miracle. (This is the answer to the first question.)

When Moshe realized that Yisro’s only mentioned this miracle, he concluded that Yisro believed that the war with Amalek and the splitting of the Yam weren’t events that Hashem overpowered the Evil Force. This however isn’t true. Moshe explained to Yisro that Hashem overpowered the Evil Forces both at the splitting of the Yam and during the war with Amalek. (This answers the second question Zera Shimshon asked.)

After Yisro came to realize, that it was Hashem’s superpower that caused ALL of these miracles, he answered “Blessed is Hashem etc.” (The answer to the third question)


וַיִּשְׁמַע יִתְרוֹ כֹהֵן מִדְיָן חֹתֵן משֶׁה אֵת כָּל אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה אֱלֹהִים לְמשֶׁה וּלְיִשְׂרָאֵל עַמּוֹ כִּי הוֹצִיא יְדֹוָד אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל מִמִּצְרָיִם:

And Moshe’s father in law, Yisro…, heard all that Hashem had done for Moshe and for Israel, H.s people that Hashem had taken Israel out of Mitzrayim. (Shemos 18/1)

Rashi explains that even though from the possuk it seems that Yisro came after he heard ALL the miracles that Hashem did for Bnei Yisroel, the truth is that there were two specific incidents that spurred Yisro to go to Moshe; the splitting of the Red Sea and the war with Amalek.

From the fact that Rashi writes that these two incidents spurred his coming, we understand that the splitting of the Red Sea by itself didn’t provide enough inspiration for Yisro to come to Moshe. It was only after he also heard of the war with Amalek did he decide to come.

Zera Shimshon asks why wasn’t the splitting of the sea enough inspiration? What was missing that he needed also the war with Amalek to push him to come?

He answers in light of the Gemorra in Sotah daf 11/A that explains that the reason that Paroh decreed to drown all Jewish male babies (instead some other type of murder) was because he knew that Hashem made an oath never to destroy the world by a flood. Paroh therefore reasoned that since Hashem punishes Midah KeNegged Midah (measure for measure), Hashem would not be able to take revenge for his murdering of all the Jewish newborn boys.

The Gemorra concludes, however, that Paroh’s reasoning was faulty. One reason is that Hashem’s oath was not to destroy the WHOLE world by a flood. However, H. never vowed not to destroy one nation by flooding.

An alternative reason is that Hashem didn’t destroy the Mitzrayim nation by bringing a flood on them. Rather at the time of the the splitting of the Yam Suf they chased Bnei Yisroel and ran into the water. In other words, Hashem didn’t destroy them, but rather they destroyed themselves.

Zera Shimshon explains that the point of disagreement between these two answers is the way Hashem, so to speak, related to H.s oath.

Although an oath is totally and unconditionally binding, Hashem, so to speak, holds that it is acceptable to find a loophole in an oath even though superficially it appears that H. is violating the oath.

In the case of punishing the Mitzriim for drowning the first born, Hashem found a loophole in the oath- the oath was only to destroy the WHOLE world and therefore proceeded to do destroy Mitzrayim.

According to the second explanation Hashem holds it is unacceptable to violate an oath through a loophole. Therefore H. was, so to speak, bound by H.s oath not to destroy even a single nation through water. Therefore we are forced to say that the Mitzriim ran into the Sea and destroyed themselves.

According to this Zera Shimshon explains why Yisro didn’t come to Moshe until after the war with Amalek.

Yisro wanted to become part of Bnei Yisroel only if Hashem would keep H.s promise NEVER to leave the decedents of our Forefathers. Yisro wanted to be sure that even if we don’t do Hashem’s mitzvos, Hashem will not forsake us.

Yisro saw that Hashem didn’t directly drown the Mitzriim at Yam Suf (even though that they deserved to be punished Midah Kenegged Midah for their drowning the new born Jewish boys). He was unsure, though the reason for this. He reasoned that it might be because Hashem felt bound by H.s oath even though that technically H. could get out of it (since it was only not to destroy the whole world by water).

If this was the case, Yisro reasoned, then Hashem would also keep the oath to protect and to be close to Avraham’s descendants in all situations, regardless of our conduct, and Yisro would have come immediately to join the ranks of Bnei Yisroel

However, Yisro was worried that there was another reason that Hashem didn’t destroy them directly. Therefore he stayed where he was and didn’t come to Moshe

At the war against Amelek Hashem saved us miracously even though we doubted Hashem’s ability to feed us in the Desert. After Yisro saw this, he was then convinced that Hashem will always be with us. Therefore only at that time he came to convert and to be part of our nation.

HaRav Shimshon Nachmaini, author of Zera Shimshon lived in Italy about 300 years ago in the time of the Or HaChaim HaKodesh.

The Chida writes that he was a great Mekubal and wrote many sefarim including sefarim about practical kabbolo but asked that all of his sefarim be buried after he passes away except for Zera Shimshon and Niflaos Shimshon on Avos.

He had one child who died in his lifetime (hence the name Zera Shimshon) and in the preface he promises for people who learn his sefarim after he dies ... And your eyes will see children and grandchildren like the offshoots of an olive tree around your tables, wise and understanding with houses filled with all manner of good things and wealth and honor

These d’vrai Torah are dedicated to Esther Yenta Bas Chana Chassia. In the merit of the learning Zera Shimshon’s divrai TorahHashem should answer her prayers and she should quickly find her proper match along with all the other members of Clal Yisroel who are also looking for their zivug hagun.

If you are interested in buying your own copy of the Hebrew version of Zera Shimshon

Call 05271-66-450 in Eretz Yisroel


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