The Family Advice

Torah spends a great deal of time instructing us to be kind and welcoming to strangers. The laws of dealing with a stranger are precise and well-documented, supported by textual evidence, and grounded in our collective mentality. We are also commanded to honor our parents but the rest of the family connections described in the Torah are not always bright and cheery as they are not, indeed, in the real life.

One of the most notable exceptions appears in our current portion, where Moshe meets his father-in-law, Yitro, the Midianite priest and the man commanding great respect from Moshe’s side. Such is this respect that Moshe readily accepts one of the great pieces of the managerial advice that is found in the Torah – Yitro’s council on delegating the tasks.

Commenting on the concise and clear way Yitro offers his feedback, Chizkuni writes that “you will definitely become worn out” means that Moshe will be not only tired physically but become confused and muddled mentally which is not a good thing for a judge.

More often than not our family members can give us much better advice than any of the books we read or websites we browse. The key is just to learn to listen to them.

About the Author
Nelly Shulman is a journalist and writer currently based in Berlin. She is an author of four popular historical novels in the Russian language. She is working on the fifth novel in this series and on her first English-language novel, a historical thriller set during the Siege of Leningrad. She a Hawthornden Fellow and an alumna of the Nachum Goldmann Fellowship.
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