Ben-Tzion Spitz
Former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay

Strength of Trust, Strength of Mind (Yitro)

"Chain Brain" (AI image by author)
"Chain Brain" (AI image by author)

What loneliness is more lonely than distrust? -George Eliot

It has become a virtue in our day and age to doubt and to question. There is a certain cynicism and distrust that frequently permeates our lives and relationships that unfortunately is often not without reason.

Hence, one who is wary, even paranoid, may be safer than a trusting soul. The cynics are often seen as strong and wise. The naïve are perceived as weaklings and fools. It’s a common dualism of seeing the skeptics as more grounded and the believers as foolish.

There is a different, though frequent dualism in scripture that we often either ignore or take as merely a poetic device. This dualism appears in the introduction to the giving of the Ten Commandments. The dualism is a repetition of the term “to say”:

“And God SAID all of these things to SAY.” -Exodus 20:1

Rabbi Shlomo Ephraim of Prague, the Kli Yakar (1550-1619) explains that the introductory sentence with the two uses of the verb “to say” is to highlight that God transmitted the commandments in two different ways: ‘strongly’ and ‘softly’. What is most interesting is who the Kli Yakar considers as the different audiences for the ‘strong’ and for the ‘soft’ transmissions.

He elaborates that when God commanded ‘softly,’ He did so together with an explanation of the commandment. Apparently weaker minds would only successfully accept the commandment if the rationale was explained.

God commanded ‘strongly’ without elaboration. The ‘strong’ transmission was for the stronger minds that could accept the command without question. Their strength of mind, their strength of trust in God and His worthiness, enabled them to internalize the commandment without further need for rationale or explanations. Ones strength of trust converted into strength of mind.

May our levels of trust always have reason to grow and may we climb from doing the right thing with a rationale, to not needing one.

Shabbat Shalom



To Tel Aviv University on their cultivation of a new strain of tomatoes that needs less water.

About the Author
Ben-Tzion Spitz is the former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay. He is the author of six books of Biblical Fiction and hundreds of articles and stories dealing with biblical themes. He is the publisher of Torah.Works, a website dedicated to the exploration of classic Jewish texts, as well as TweetYomi, which publishes daily Torah tweets on Parsha, Mishna, Daf, Rambam, Halacha, Tanya and Emuna. Ben-Tzion is a graduate of Yeshiva University and received his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering from Columbia University.
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