Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Yitro – Here I come!

He sent word to Moses: 'I, your father-in-law Jethro, am on my way to you...'

Jethro came to Moses after he “heard about all that God had done for Moses and His people Israel when He brought Israel out of Egypt.” Why didn't he come before, on his own accord? After all, Moses was his son-in-law, and the leader of the Jewish people; besides, Jethro was bringing with him his daughter Tzippora, who was Moses' wife?

The answer is that Jethro was the reincarnation of Cain, and his life had a purpose: correction of the destruction that Cain had committed. There are two theories of when Jethro arrived: before the giving of the Torah (as the sequence of events seems to indicate), or after (which could also work, since the Torah does not always follow the timeline in retelling the events). Both theories have a common point of view, that the essential correction of a person is through Torah. That is the meaning of the phrase in the psalms, “All God's teaching are pure” – that is, they purify the person – and the word “purify” implies strenuous hard work.

According to the first theory, he came to be purified by the Torah which was given shortly afterward, and according to the second, all events and miracles meant nothing to him, but once the Torah was given – he had no doubt that now he had to go. The Torah purified the Jews from the mistake that Adam had made in the first place, and gave them a second chance and a clean slate.

In fact, Abel has exacerbated the mistake of his father Adam by looking at Divine Presence. This happened when he brought his offering, and God “accepted it.” This acceptance meant that Abel was given a chance to experience the Divine Presence, which he misused. Cain, on the other hand, did not have this chance. This “looking” was what made Abel to be liable to be killed by Cain.

At the time of the giving of the Torah, everybody, including Moses, were connected in their soul root to Abel. Jethro was the only exception, for he was the reincarnation of Cain. The continuation of Cain's correction happened through the sons of Aharon, Nadav and Avihu. They tried to use the incense for this, but were also involved in “looking” and thus only partially succeeded – for they died in the attempt – until the final correction came through Pinchas.

Art: Jan Victors - Moses' Parting Of Jethro


  1. This is very enlightening, But I have a couple of questions, please.

    I have seen R' Dessler bring this explanation for Abel's mistake, is there an earlier source?

    Also, you mentioned that Jethro came to be purified by the Torah. If That fits well with the verse 18:1 "And Jethro heard", if we assume that he came after the Torah was given. Presumably, he "heard" of the giving of the Torah. However then, in 18:8, why doesn't Moses tell him about the giving of the Torah, only limiting the discussion to the Exodus?

    On the other hand, if he came before the Torah was given, why would 18:1 indicate that he heard something, when nothing moved him to come to us except the future giving of the Torah?

  2. Dmitry,

    you see this through RSS, just when it appears and without the illustration. Please don't forget to refresh and look now.

    The source is the Arizal, which tells us that Rav Dessler used the Kabbalistic explanation. However, your question is not touched upon by the Arizal, who assumes that his readers know very well the Talmud where this is discussed. It is mentioned here in Zevachim,, although it's not the main source, but you can start from it, and it will lead you further.

    By the way, if you join the LiveJournal, here, and here, then our discussion will be seen by more people.

    Best regards,

  3. By the way, I don't mention the sources to lighten the style up, but I do nothing more than more or less direct translation of the Arizal.