Friday, February 17, 2006

A Dvar Torah

Hopefully this will be something I keep up but I hope to post a dvar Torah based on the weeks parshah which has deeper implications. All these thoughts are my own. This is my own interpretation which is based on my own logic.
The next day, Moses sat to judge the people. They stood around Moses from morning to evening. When Moses' father-in-law saw all that [Moses] was doing for the people, he said, 'What are you doing to the people? Why are you sitting by yourself and letting all the people stand around you from morning until evening?' 'The people come to me to seek God,' replied Moses to his father-in-law. Whenever they have a problem, they come to me. I judge between man and his neighbor, and I teach God's decrees and laws. Moses' father-in-law said to him, 'What you are doing is not good. You are going to wear yourself out, along with this nation that is with you. Your responsibility is too great. You cannot do it all alone. 'Now listen to me. I will give you advice, and God will be with you. You must be God's representative for the people, and bring [their] concerns to God. Clarify the decrees and laws for [the people]. Show them the path they must take, and the things they must do. 'But you must [also] seek out from among all the people capable, God-fearing men - men of truth, who hate injustice. You must then appoint them over [the people] as leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds, leaders of fifties, and leaders of tens. 'Let them administer justice for the people on a regular basis. Of course, they will have to bring every major case to you, but they can judge the minor cases by themselves. They will then share the burden, making things easier for you. If you agree to this, and God concurs, you will be able to survive. This entire nation will then also be able to attain its goal of peace.' Moses took his father-in-law's advice, and did all that he said He chose capable men from all Israel, and he appointed them as administrators over the people, leaders of thousands, leaders of hundreds, leaders of fifties, and leaders of tens. They administered justice on a regular basis, bringing the difficult cases to Moses, and judging the simple cases by themselves.
What we have here is the start of judicial delegation. However this doesn't seem to be either a clever idea or one which had not been used. It seems impossible that Moshe could judge all the cases of a population which was at least 1 million people. So what was Yitro's great idea and why is it so important that is mentioned in the Torah. My explanation will answer all these questions and more. First of all Moses's judging was happening very soon after the giving of the Torah (according to the Ramban). He was teaching them the Torah by judging the cases which required some interpretation of the written Torah and wasn't something already decided or mentioned explicitly. Yitro's major innovative idea was that it wasn't just Moshe who could interpret the Torah but it was for the people who didn't have constant revelation from God also.
This is the why it is so key for this to be mentioned before the Divine Revelation at Sinai. That the Torah is "an inheritance for the Congregation of Jacob." Also the judging was happening recently after the incident of the Golden Calf. Moshe was trying to bring the people to God through him. Yitro was telling him that the Torah was given to the masses and that Judaism must be able to survive Moshe. This was the reason for the Temple and its high priest being somebody besides Moshe. The Temple was created mainly as a place for the average man to become closer to God and not mainly as a shrine to Moshe or the Torah. In a similar way we see that the sin for which Moshe didn't enter Israel was the hitting of the rock. All the explanations about why it was so wrong seem to assume that what isn't wrong for us was wrong for Moshe. However I think the major problem was that the well ran out immediately after Miriam's death. Moshe speaking to the rock would be an opportunity to show that it wasn't Moshe's power which led the Jew's but God. Instead he hit the rock which indicated that Moshe used his power to get water from the rock and they couldn't suceed without him. Therefore it was necessary for him to die before they entered the land so that they could see that they could conquer the land through God's grace alone without any of the people who took them out of Egypt. This was necessary for the people to survive in absence of Moshe or later the Temple.


At 10:01 PM, Blogger Tobie said...

Wow...I like it very much.
Shokoiach, as they say.

At 11:09 PM, Blogger Mike said...

Thanks the problem is following it up since the basic theme was one I thought up last year at parshat hukas.


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