Parshat ha Shavuah Verses – Jethro

This Parshah is one of the multiple wonders.

Yitro, a priest of Midian, effectively institutes the tradition of brachot for miracles. “Yitro is not the first person to bless God, but he is the first to offer a bracha in response to a miracle performed for a group (rather than an individual).” Dr. David Ackerman


Parshat Yitro gives us the basis for the whole human morality. Gd commands the human beings to behave in certain ways both toward the Higher Being and toward each other – don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t covet, respect your parents, don’t think that other powers are greater than Gd! However, there is no command governing the behavior of a human toward oneself – Gd never tells us to be happy.

I am not even sure the word exists in the Torah. Gd does tell us to work, and be joyful, and enjoy the fruit of our labor “You shall eat, and be satisfied, and bless.” (Deuteronomy 8:10)                                                                                  As parents, we can all agree that the commandments given to us at the foot of Mount Sinai are the ones we want our children to adhere to guaranteeing their becoming good and moral human beings. But, don’t we all want them to be happy above everything else? We, really, never want to see our children crying of pain – physical or emotional. So, why does Gd, being our ultimate father never speak about happiness? 

I realize that, quite possibly, the very idea of happiness never existed before sometime in 18th-19th centuries with the advent of individual aspirations being recognized publicly (in Europe, of course). The idea was in the air before, to be sure, but the new “modern” currents shaped it to never go away anymore. So, how do you define happiness in life? Achievements? Money? Progeny? What is it that your heart is longing for? The question remains. 

Don’t you dare pain me!
Don’t you make it harder for my girls!
I will cry to Gd – help a widow my father-in- heaven!                                                                                                          Deal with Him now yourself 
The truth is that we fail. As people, we miserably fail to keep the mitzvot of Gd. We struggle. Some more, some less. Each of us has our own battles to fight. Yet, we fail. Even the best of us. May we, at least, see the right path to happiness.

“Truth does not become more true if the whole world were to accept it; nor does it become less true if the whole world were to reject it” – Maimonides



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