ישי ברונר, שיקגו, תשס”ג
Yitro comes to the encampment of the Jewish people in the wilderness with a brilliant idea. He sees Moshe Rabeinu judging the entire nation from morning to evening. He challenges Moshe, “Surely you and the nation will be worn out…” Yitro proposes that Moshe establish a comprehensive legal system to accommodate the judicial needs of the people. Moshe acquiesces! Why did Moshe Rabeinu himself not devise such a seemingly obvious solution to this potential disaster?
What was the judicial process like in the court of Moshe? The two litigants would enter and each one would present his arguments. The spiritually saturated environment would automatically dispel falsehood and deception. The truth would emerge, as if, by itself. There was no need for “due process”! The spiritual stature and grandeur of Moshe towered above all litigation. If such an incredible phenomenon exists, who needs courts of law?!
The revelation at Har Sinai was an awe-inspiring event. The Jewish people are overwhelmed and request that Moshe speak with them and not G-d. Moshe Rabeinu rejected their plea until G-d told him that they are right- “… all that they have said is good”. Moshe felt that they had missed a one-time opportunity and had weakened him after all of his efforts on their behalf (based on Rashi, Devarim 5:24). They should have wanted to come closer to G-d with passion and love!?
Midrash Rabba Shir HaShirim 2:15 comments on the verse, “… and clustered my encampments about Him in love” that when the Jewish people saw the divisions of angels coming to Har Sinai they, too, desired to have a similar structure and order to their camp. They requested that they be given banners, to set themselves up in specific locations around the Mishkan and the Levites´ camp in the middle. Moshe´s vision of the nation seemingly did not require such organization?
A nation is an aggregate of individuals – each with their own personalities and idiosyncrasies. In order for the nation to survive and thrive it is essential that every person be able to find his or her niche and “space”. Klal Yisrael recognizes its limitation and greatness at the same moment. Therefore, they request that G-d give them this structure that will accommodate their differences and synergize them into a one united group that demonstrates the glory of Heaven.
Would that their heart be set to fear Me and to keep My commandments all the days in order that it will be good for them and their children after them. Once again, Klal Yisrael recognizes that it is overwhelming to maintain a whole nation at the spiritual heights of revelation. Perhaps individuals such as Moshe could sustain such a non-earthly existence! However, as a people dissimilar and diversified, they and their children necessitated a more accepting approach.
G-d agreed with them. The recognition and appreciation of the nation that each individual must be encouraged to develop their special talents and skills according to each one´s unique potential is ultimately the guarantee of the future of the Jewish people.
From the viewpoint of Moshe Rabeinu´s spiritual stature his court of justice was more than adequate. Yitro came and viewed this legal system from the vantage point of the “earthly” outsider – the common man. He understood that the long term stability and development of the nation required a hierarchal court system that would be sensitive to the different strata and complexions of the nation .
Every person who is either a parent, teacher, or leader must recognize the intrinsic nature, limitations, and potential greatness of each individual they are involved with. The mode of instruction, guidance, and leadership must be “person-sensitive”. One monochromatic or monolithic method is doomed to failure. The beauty and brilliance of Klal Yisrael is the symphony of its diversity.