Perashat Yitro is named after Moshe’s father-in-law, for his contribution of a prescription for effective leadership. There were two different guests that came to visit the Israelites in the desert. One was Yitro, whose counsel was a major benefit to Israel. Yitro, upon observing his son-in-law’s workload, recommended appointing competent men to assist Moshe in the leadership of Bene Yisrael. Following his advice. Moshe appoints qualified judges to oversee the day to day operations of government.
The other guest was Amalek, who launched an unprovoked attack against Israel, taking advantage of the weak, and the weaknesses, of the people as they left Egypt. Amalek became the arch-enemy of Israel and the eternal prototype of evil in the world. Ironically, several centuries after the Exodus from Egypt, when the Israelites lived in the land of Israel and King Saul was commanded to wage a war against Amalek, Yitro’s descendants, the Kenites, lived in the territory of Amalek. King Saul, recognizing the nation of Israel’s debt of gratitude to Yitro for his counsel and help, warned Yitro’s descendants to evacuate the area and assure their survival. How different then, was the behavior of the different guests, and how each one related to Bene Israel!
Today, Israel as a country, has many different guest populations living side by side with the rest of its citizens. Israel also receives many guests, such as diplomats, as well as other concerned world-citizens. Many of these, of course, are honest and caring people whose advice and well-meaning suggestions are meant for the advancement of the State of Israel and its progress. Many of these guests reside in the country and work and contribute to the development of Israel. Yet, others come to attack Israel and the Jewish Nation, in the media, in world bodies and even in the streets and cities of Israel. Even those who are citizens of Israel itself, scheme and work day-to-day to terrorize Israel and its population, and want to see the demise of Israel as a Jewish State.
Many in the Israeli Arab population, who live, work and enjoy of the liberties and freedoms afforded by the State of Israel, nevertheless attack Israel, verbally, internationally and even spawn some terrorists from among their ranks. They are represented by 13 members of Knesset, some of who do not believe in the existence of Israel as a state, and seek the demise of Israel, even while participating in the democratic process and voting. They are the contemporary representatives of Amalek, who seek to destroy the Jewish Nation from within, and take advantage of the weaknesses of the State of Israel.
On the other hand, The Israeli Druze community is an example of a population that lives, participates and contributes to the advancement of the State of Israel. This weekend we will have the pleasure and honor of welcoming Nadeem Amr, Esq., a Druze, the Mayor of Julis, a city in Northern Israel. The Druze have a higher proportion of soldiers in the IDF than the Jewish population, and have had proportionally, a higher level of casualties. Historically, the Druze are known to be the descendants of Yitro and the Kenite population. They surely, follow the teachings that Yitro, their leader, instilled in them many centuries ago.
The framework set by Yitro paved the way for Hashem to supply the legal code of the Jewish people, the Decalogue, and subsequently the Torah. The authority was given to the sages and Rabbis of each generation to interpret it, creating Rabbinic Law, and apply it to every situation. Through the wisdom of Yitro, Hashem created a partnership between Himself and Bene Yisrael in order to establish a system of laws and a lifestyle which can survive eternally.
The lesson of Hakarat Hatov – gratitude – is a lesson that Bene Israel made part of their very essence and existence; one from which we can learn from and emulate.
Rabbi Elie Abadie, M.D.