Yael Chaya Miriam Gray

Why did Yisro have to be at matan Torah?

Q. Why was it essential for Moshe Rabbeinu’s father-in-law, Yisro, to show up before matan Torah and to experience it for himself? (See Zohar, disagreeing with many Sages who say Yosro showed up after).

A. It was essential for Yisro – whose name, significantly, means “extra” – to show up before matan Torah and to undergo it for himself because Yisro took part of the soul of Kayin, whose soul originated in the collapsed world of Olam HaTohu. Sha’ar HaGilgulim of the ARIZAL BY R. Chaim Vital Calabrese. We will see the reason for this by examining why Moshe was criticized for bringing the erev rav along as “extras” on the Exodus. Yosef HaTzadik had converted millions of Egyptians to the faith of his fathers many, many years before, and these people -who would come to be called the erev rav (“riffraff”) – lived in Israelite cities and followed Israelite practices. Yosef converted these people in return for grain during a word-wide famine, having seen prophetically that these souls originated in the 130 years Adam was separated from Chava after their sin and before the birth of their son, Seth, and they fell into the kelipot when the world of Tohu collapsed and were reincarnated as Egyptians. Many Israelite souls were included among these Egyptian people, including – most significantly – the soul of moshiach, which was lost in Sodom with Avraham Avinu’s ne’er-do-well nephew, Lot.
The erev rav were converts. That’s why Moshe, in his compassion and zeal for Hashem, prematurely brought these souls near to holiness, bringing these “extras” along with the Children of Israel, and causing no end of trouble along the way. G-d criticized Moshe for doing so, since not all of these converts were sincere and G-d foresaw the sin of the Golden calf, which was precipitated by the erev rav.
Bringing out these souls was a time-bound mitzvah and the time was not right for them to come out with holiness. That’s why Hashem refers to them – in Moshe’s presence – as “your people” – and not “My people” – when commanding him to descend from the mountain “Because your people have corrupted themselves.”
When Hashem wanted to give the Torah to Israel, He had to decide what to do about the erev rav. Since Moses brought them out as a fait accompis (forgive spelling, pls) and since G-d loved and favored Moses, G-d decided it would be good for the erev rav to receive the Torah, too, along with the Children of Israel. That’s why Yisro had to be there before the giving of matan Torah, to experience it for himself: for Yisro here symbolizes all the souls of Olam Ha Tohu. No longer would a distinction be made between born Jews and converts, Moses had included the erev rav in the Children of Israel, they had received the Torah, too, and that was that. From that moment on, there were only Israelites, as evidenced by the fact that “you shall not distress a convert” is one of the most frequently repeated commandments in the Torah.
In so doing, it was Hashem’s hope that the indelible impression made by the experience of receiving and following the Torah would enable these Tohu-dik souls to refine their coarse behavior and be redeemed. This process is ongoing and will, of course, take centuries, and will only be fully accomplished in the messianic age, because Hashem can afford to “take the long view.”
But can we?
About the Author
Jewish Mystic.
Related Topics
Related Posts