The Derech Eretz Show
Before making Aliyah to Israel, Tzvi Fishman was a Hollywood screenwriter. He has co-authored 4 books with Rabbi David Samson, based on the teachings of Rabbi Kook, Eretz Yisrael, Art of T'shuva, War and Peace, and Torat Eretz Yisrael.
Doesn’t it seem strange that this week’s Torah portion where the Jewish People receive the Torah is named after the gentile Yitro?
Rabbi Leon Levi explains that this great honor given to Yitro is because of the great lesson we learn from him – the lesson of “Masirut Nefesh,” of self-sacrifice for a higher cause, as it says, “Vayavo Yitro” – “And Yitro, the father-in-law of Moshe, went into the wilderness.”
Yitro was the king of Midian. He was the chief idol worshipper in the world. Yet, he abandoned everything when he heard about the miracles that Hashem performed for Am Yisrael in freeing them from bondage in Egypt and splitting the sea in their behalf. He gave everything up, all of his fame, riches, honor and prestige, to journey into the wilderness in order to meet up with Moshe and learn more about serving the One and Only true G-d. He left everything behind in order to get closer to Hashem, because he understood that this is the goal of life.
Yitro’s great “Masirut Nefesh” parallels the great “Masirut Nefesh” of Am Yisrael about whom it is also said, “Yayavo Bnei Yisrael” – “And the Children of Israel went into the midst of the sea.” With the raging sea before them and the thundering chariots of Pharoah behind them, the Jews bravely went into the sea, willing to give up everything for Hashem.
This “Masirut Nefesh” is also seen in the evil nation of Amalek, of whom it is also said, “Vayavo Amalek and fought with Yisrael.” Even though they had heard how Hashem had destroyed Egypt and knew that they had no chance to defeat His chosen nation, without thinking about themselves, they attacked. “Vayavo Amalek!” It was this “Masirut Nefesh” that led them to their success in dealing a great blow to Israel.
“Masirut Nefesh” is one of the great keys to serving G-d – the willingness to put getting closer to Hashem over everything else. The willingness to abandon the fleshpots of Monsey, Toronto, Melbourne, and Vienna, Virginia to make the journey through the wilderness to the Holy Land, just like the Jews of Egypt, to get closer to Hashem and live a newer, much higher level of Judaism, a Judaism with all of one’s heart, with all of one’s soul, and with all of one’s might. The willingness to jump forward into the sea of the unknown and trust that Hashem will guide your path. The willingness to give up everything, in the spirit of self-sacrifice, in order to gain everything – the exquisite and exalted closeness to Hashem that can only be achieved in the Land of Israel.
Why continue, my dear Diaspora readers, to live virtual Jewish lives, vicariously living out your dreams by following the heroes of Eretz Yisrael over the Internet, when you could be here, yourselves, living out the real life Israeli life in the Land of Hashem?
“Vayavo! Vayavo! Vayavo!”