Yitro: Chapter 1

"When Jethro...heard"


Rabbi Chizkiyah begins a discussion to do with raising up the hands. It is important to raise them only in prayer and blessing, as the ten fingers correspond to the ten potentates who receive blessings, and to the ten sayings. The lesson turns to the King and priest above, and the King and priest below, and we learn that there is a King and a priest of the Other Side as well. The number ten is additionally significant, as God struck the Pharaoh with ten plagues.

About Jethro, we now learn that he gave advice to Moses on the administration of justice following the laws of God, and Moses listened to him. Though the people had seen the miracles done by Moses, they gave up their idol worship and believed in Moses' God only after Jethro, who was a powerful priest of Midian, acknowledged the greatness of Hashem.

We read of the three advisors to the Pharaoh: Jethro, Job and Bilaam. Bilaam was a sorcerer, but Job had fear, and we are told of the great power of fear to draw down the spirit from above, whether it be Holy or from the Other Side. While Job converted to worship of the Holy One due to the fear generated by his witnessing of the miracles, Jethro did not convert until after the drowning in the Red Sea. However, Bilaam neither repented nor converted; we are told that even in the Other Side there is a small streak of light that comes from the Holy Side, and Bilaam knew how to use this. In the same way, Moses saw a fine streak of darkness from the Other Side. So we learn that all things connect to one another, the pure and the impure.