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Parshas Yisro -LISTEN TO YOUR IN-LAWS:

LISTEN TO YOUR IN-LAWS:

 

            At the beginning of this week’s Parsha, the pasuk [verse] says, “And  Yitro, the Priest of Midyan, the father-in-law of Moshe, heard all that  G-d did to Moshe and to Israel, His people — that Hashem took Israel  out of Egypt.” [Shmot 18:1]

 

A very interesting Halacha found in Hilchot Kibud Av Vaem  (Honoring Father and Mother) is derived from this weeks Parshat Yitro. The Halacha obligates one to honor one’s in-laws as one’s own parents.  This includes standing in their presence and visiting them regularly. It is forbidden to call one’s in-laws by their first names. Some authorities write that one should call them “Mother” and “Father” just as one refers to his own parents. Indeed, King David referred to Shaul (Saul), his father-in-law, as “Avi” (“My father”)( see Shmuel I 24:11). Others disagree, but according to all views, one should not call parents-in-law by their first names. When one’s in-laws eat at one’s own home, the father-in-law should be given a place of honor at the table. One should also instruct his wife to first serve her father, so that she fulfills the Mitzva of honoring her father, and he fulfills the Mitzva of honoring his father-in-law.  

 

The relationship with in-laws commonly comes up and the question of listening to the advice of an in-law has many times been posed to me. In these matters I refer to Parshat Yitro,

 

The beginning of the Parsha relates the relationship with Moshe and his father-in-law and can act as an example to teach us how we should relate to our in-laws. After a long period of separation, Yitro comes forward with his daughter and grandchildren to see their son-in-law, spouse and parent, respectively. After being told of their arrival, Moshe goes running out to greet whom? His father-in-law, Yitro.

 

It does not even mention if Moshe greeted his wife or sons; the Torah was not interested in discussing that issue at this time. The Torah then continues and writes (Exodus 18:8) “Moshe told his father-in-law all that HaShem had done for the B’nai Yisrael to Pharaoh and Egypt…”.

 

However, we have a major question about this. The first pasuk of the parsha says  “And  Yitro, the Priest of Midyan, the father-in-law of Moshe heard all that  G-d did to Moshe and to Israel, His people — that Hashem took Israel  out of Egypt” [Shmot 18:1] . Why was it necessary for Yitro to be told first hand from Moshe what had happened? Rashi answers this question with a simple statement. Restated, why is it important for Moshe to have this dialogue with Yitro?

 

Before answering this question, we need to look at another aspect of the communication between Yitro and Moshe. It says in the Torah (ibid 18:13-14) “And it was the next day, and Moshe sat to judge the people and the nation stood around Moshe from morning till evening.”

 

Yitro saw this scene and he asked “What is this thing that you are doing to the nation, why do you sit yourself, and all the nation comes and waits for you from morning until evening?”

 

Can you believe the audacity of Yitro to speak like this to Moshe, the man who himself- and only himself- conversed with the Lord!  What right does this individual have to tell the prophet of prophets how to do his job? I am sure that many of us have received unwanted and unsolicited “advice” from our in-laws and have not sat back and listened quietly.

 

Yet Moshe’s response was peaceful and polite. He even took the recommendations of Yitro to HaShem for endorsement! What respect and admiration! What tremendous Midot.

 

To go back to our original question, why did Moshe spend the time to recall what had happened to Bnei Yisrael, if Yitro had already known? It was to show Yitro that the busiest person in the world still had time to give Kavod (honor) to sit and talk to his father-in-law.

                                                                                                       

What an enormous lesson this is for us. Indeed, the Torah wants us to actually find a common relationship with in laws, spend time with them and welcome their input on how to raise our children and lead our lives. May we all merit having parents and in-laws that we can bond with, using the example given us by Moshe Rabbenu

 

 

 

 

 

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