|Parashat Yitro: How Do You Hear from God?|
by Susan Feldman, Adat Yeshua, Overland Park, Kansas
Parashat Yitro, Exodus 18:1-20:26
Moses just does this huge feat on behalf of the Master of the Universe—getting the Israelites out of Egypt with all that encompasses—and then on his way back to Sinai he is faced with the reality of his humanity by running, first of all, into his father-in-law Yitro, and then also his wife and sons.
Yitro had heard all the things that God had done for Moses and for Israel his people, and how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt. How proud he must have been! And how he, even with his own stature as the priest of Midian, must have looked up to this son-in-law. Neither of them was young any more. Their reunion was special. Yitro even offered sacrifices before the God of Moses. And Aaron and all the elders of Israel came and ate with them. Moses also showed great honor and respect for his father-in-law. And this was after he had conquered the greatest kingdom of that day. What a humble man!
Moses was able to conquer because of who he listened to. In Egypt it was HaShem's voice that guided him. Now, out of Egypt, and reaching Sinai, it is Yitro's voice that Moses listens to as well. He allows his father-in-law to speak into his life, and help him to be of greater service to all of Israel.
Now listen to me. I will give you counsel, and God be with you! . . . You should look for able men among all the people, men who fear God, are trustworthy, and hate dishonest gain; set such men over them as officers over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. Let them sit as judges for the people at all times; let them bring every important case to you, but decide every minor case themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. If you do this, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people will go to their home in peace.” So Moses listened to his father-in-law and did all that he had said. (Ex. 18:19-24)
Yitro’s counsel helped Moses to get to know his own people, and learn who were able men, and who feared God, who were truthful, and who hated dishonesty. It allowed him to feel the strength of the leadership in his midst. He didn’t have to carry the burden alone. All because he listened to his father-in-law.
It makes me wonder, who do I chose to listen to? When God sends voices of wisdom into my life, am I listening? Are you listening?
Our portion goes on, and God reveals himself by his voice to his people. They are overwhelmed and they tell Moses, “You speak to us yourself and we will listen;
but let not God speak to us or we will die” (Ex. 20:19).
In today's culture, I am often told by people that “God told me to do . . .” Often, it is just an independent action of their own choice. When I read this portion I am left with more than the Ten Words—I am left with a lesson on listening.
Who do you listen to? How do you listen? How do you hear from God?