In Exodus 18 of the Old Testament (Shemot 18 in the Torah) we gain an interesting lesson from Jethro, the father-in-law to the prophet Moses. After having escaped from Egypt to the land of Midian (after killing an Egyptian who had been abusing a Hebrew slave) Moses ends up working as a Shepard for Reuel the priest of Midian, more often refered to as Jethro, or Yitro in the Torah. Moses marries Zipporah his daughter, and they have two sons, first Gershom and later Eliezer. (See Chapter 2) Eventually Moses speaks with the Lord in the burning bush, meets up with his biological brother Aaron, and sets off to free the Hebrews from the Egyption bondage. Long story short – after a miraculous set of events the Israelites are liberated from bondage.
The Israelites begin their sougourn through the wilderness and at some point (See Chapter 18) Jethro hears of all that God had done for Moses and for the people of Israel and brings Zipporah and their two sons up from Midian to meet up with them in the wilderness. Moses retells the whole story and Jethro rejoices and realizes that the Lord (Jehova) is greater than all of the other gods.
The next day Jethro observed as people came all day to Moses with their various matters of concerns, Moses judging from morning all the way into the evening. Jethro questions him about it and tells Moses that his approach was probably not the best and that it was too much for him to try and solve all of the problems of the whole people. Both Moses and the people were going to get burnt out if he kept up this approach.
That’s the first part of the lesson from Jethro – don’t try and do everything yourself, because you can’t. There is another important part of the message which is especially emphisized in the video below. Instead of just complaining, or telling Moses that he wasn’t doing things right, he gave him some solid suggestions of how to solve the problem. He gives two really important suggestions. First, teach them how they ought to live, so they can make good decisions for themselves. Second, set up a system of rightoues judges who can share the burden of judging. Moses would still judge over the big issues, but the majority of the issues, the little ones, could be dealt with easily enough by the others.
The following video which is part of the G-d Cast Series presents Parshat Yitro, a lesson from the Torah learned from Yitro (Jethro). This is an amazing series, and I would direct anyone who is interested to their YouTube Page.
Image removed: Jethro and Moses by James Tissot ~1896-1900