Friday, June 8, 2012

Shem and Jethro: The Two Sinai Noahides

Parashas Beha’aloscha

Jethro: Continuing Shem at Sinai

Rabbi David P. Katz

In this week’s Torah Portion of Beha’aloscha we encounter a very interesting junction in the Torah that naturally sheds light on the exact nature of Jethro and his “conversion” status. As we suddenly happen upon Moses and his request of Jethro to remain with the Jewish People, the Torah relates a series of poor behavior by the Jewish People, such that the Torah in the Hebrew has placed two upside down letter “Nun’s” (ננ) to make a break in the flow. The Torah then takes this opportunity for Moses to address the Ark of the Covenant to journey and defeat Israel’s enemies. One interesting fact to note in this exchange is that between the upside down Nun’s, the text consists of 85 letters. This happens to be the minimum amount of components to comprise a proper book and subsequently the commentators call this digression “the hidden book within the Torah.” It is then explained that the Torah went on a digression so that the poor behavior would have a break as to not impose a grudgeful image upon the Jewish People and to inspire repentance. When one continues to look into matters in this auspicious text, there is yet another mystery; one that also holds weight and suggests the passing of judgment on the Jewish People: “what is the reality with Jethro?” The point of contention has repercussions in understanding whether or not Jethro was right to leave and come back twice, or if the Jewish People were right or wrong in their dealings with Jethro.

After the traveling in the encampments had settled down, we find Moses engaging Jethro his Father-in-law saying, “We are journeying to the place of which Hashem has said, ‘I shall give it to you.’ Go with us and we shall treat you well, for Hashem has spoken of good for Israel.” Upon which Jethro responded, “I shall not go; but rather to my land and to my family shall I go.” Moses returns and says, “Please do not forsake us, inasmuch as you know our encampments in the wilderness, and you have been as eyes for us. And it shall be that if you come with us, then with that goodness with which Hashem will benefit us, we will do good with you.”

Before delving into the matters of Jethro [in a linear fashion explaining each step of the way that Moses, the Jewish People, and Jethro all interacted and what they really meant], let it first be known why [if Jethro has been in conversion to Noahide] there would be a precedent for Jethro to leave Mt. Sinai at the Giving of the Torah only to return and leave again at our current position in Beha’aloscha.

A Noahide is a proper Noahide by two essential components: He is a Noahide, presumably going back to Noah either by genealogy or in concept and by accepting the Torah and Her Seven Laws as was dictated to Moses by God on Mt. Sinai. Assuming that these conditions are reached, one is an authentic Noahide. The essential father of these conditions, albeit in a unique way is Shem: the son of Noah, with the only difference in that he accepted the Torah from his father Noah instead of Moses. It should be noted however that Noah was reincarnated into Moses! Thus Shem was the first Noahide and from him there would be a tradition of Noahide that would eventually root in Sinai. [Shem was present in Sinai for 1300 years for this reason – to guarantee and promote the Noahide and Torah until firmly established on Earth forever which happened with the advent of King Solomon. It was King Solomon that relieved Shem of duty, freeing him to go on to his next ultimate mission: Redemption.] Once at Sinai, the Torah was given, and the path of the Noahide was now being routed at Sinai. This path would be authentic according to what Noah and Shem had established in the beginning. If Abraham was a “pre-Israelite” and Moses was then the first “Sinai-Jew”, then Shem and Noah would be the “primordial Noahides” [based on absolute righteousness] and at Sinai there would need to be an authentic Noahide, that would become through the Torah’s mandate of having this achieved by going through the Torah, Moses and Sinai. Jethro was the elected one to merit this rite, and we see from the Scriptures that Jethro’s peculiar behavior was not peculiar at all – he was becoming a Noahide as Noahides would become and be rooted through Sinai and Moses for all of time, thereby extending Noah and Shem for eternity! With this in mind, Jethro did not abandon the Jewish People and show ambivalent behavior towards being Jewish; rather he was being a perfect and authentic example of how a Noahide honors Hashem while walking the Ultimate Path of the Righteous Gentile. The Torah would go on to call this level of existence a “Ger Tzedek” – a righteous convert[/s(ion)] implying that Jethro was in constant conversion [from Love of God as opposed to Fear of God, which would be the manner to convert to Judaism according to the Talmud.] to the point that he was called a convert. From this even though we can technically term Jethro perhaps a convert to Judaism, but the consistency in the Verses and proper understanding of the Torah is to realize that these terms and Jethro’s behavior was the highest order of compliment of being a Noahide! [The first Noahide of Sinai thereby honoring the missions of Shem and Noah!]

When we delve into the comments made by the commentator Rashi on these Verses, the dialogue between Moses, Jethro, and the Jews does not fully add up, unless we address the Truth of Jethro as a Noahide! From that point on, Moses doesn’t ship out Jethro from haste or ill-will; rather he is addressing him as a Noahide! Jethro isn’t abandoning the Jewish People [and Hashem for that matter]; rather he is making it possible to be a Noahide! For if Jethro would have stayed and repaired schism, he would receive his Torah, Moses would receive for the Jews, and this would spawn to Individual Nations that would soon split, divorce, and never find Unity, leaving the World fractured eternally. Thus if Jethro leaves and accepts the Torah from Moses, then we find that from schism comes the ultimate repair of schism, one that the scar of the original schism would become a sweetened spot and association of Love and Hashem’s Goodness! And finally, the Jewish complaints simply do not make sense if Jethro is a Jew, yet when we see Jethro as the Noahide, all of a sudden the Jews are left wondering, “Why would Jethro want to be a Noahide as opposed to being a Jew? Does he really Love God as much as he claims? He probably just Fears God like any other Jew!”

The simple answer to the Jewish complaint is that Jethro is not Jewish! Everything adds up for Jethro to be a Noahide, one that is in conversion of his soul to be one of a Lover of God, much like Shem his Father who was called “Shem My Lover!” [Of God] Thereby Moses then addresses Jethro – “are you sure you do not want to be a Jew? You are of superb caliber as it was you who knew of our encampments and again it was you who he even invented the Sanhedrin!” And yet again, Jethro expresses that he is a Noahide and by doing so he shows the capabilities of this Noahide Nation that he was essentially the father of from Sinai, as he inherited the Mission of Shem and Noah! In closing, we find that Jethro was not acting strange or in deviance at all, rather he was fulfilling his destiny as a servant of God! After all, only two Men had ever used the term, “Baruch Hashem” / “Blessed is Hashem!” Noah and Jethro! The Gematria [numerical Value] of Baruch Hashem is the same as Joseph still lives (254). This was Jacob’s cry upon finding out that Joseph in fact did not die. The same can be applied to Noah and Jethro: That which Noah started – Still Lives! As with Sinai, Jethro Lives! And the Noahides Still Live! The fulfillment of this will be with Moshiach Ben David, whose main task as the King Messiah is to give an additional thirty commandments to the Noahides, and as it is said of David: David Lives Forever! The Noahides in their expansion that will resonate equality and the sweetness from schism that has found Unity and Love will also be able to proudly say: Alive Forever with new found intention that will merit yet another Baruch Hashem!

Baruch Hashem for Jethro, for through him, Sinai was complete, from Shem, to Moses, and to the future of the World and its existence. There is a lot to learn from Jethro, such that even the nature of Truth must be fully understood to be fair in how one sees reality. The Torah had a string of ill advised behavior from the Jews in the Torah Portion, and if one reacts too quickly, he may pass judgment upon Jethro, in a sensitive area in the Torah that is trying to express only good points in People and the Nation of Israel. Not only should one in the passage be careful with Jethro, for his misinterpretation may only add fuel to the fire. Yet if one sees the merit of Jethro in the location of the upside down Nun’s, perhaps not only is there a repair in the Torah’s string of bad events, and judgment can then be a source of merit, but perhaps this is a Divine message of the repair of schism. Jethro is the hero of this repair, and even though Jethro accepted Noahide and Torah from Moses on Sinai, let us not forget the bigger picture and the original repair of schism that Jethro and Sinai are really pointing to: Shem and Abraham! Sinai is the perpetuation of Malki Tzedek and Abraham, upon which Moses and Jethro took on that relationship in an eternal Torah form. Yet we can always look at the blueprint: Shem pushed Abraham into Judaism to the same tune that Jethro was compelled into being a Noahide. And even amidst two [new] radically different Nations that Shem had now developed, there has never been Brotherhood like Shem and Abraham…that is not until Moses and Jethro found each other [and with the testimony that that was in fact the Truth], a meeting that is destined for the Future, when the schism will be eternally healed, honoring Shem and the forefathers onwards, enclothed amongst the Jewish People and the Noahides that together, will embrace each other, and the Redemption, which will be ushered in by none other than the Righteous priest, “Shem the son of Noah.”

Shabbat Shalom: May we continue with Sinai, and thereby continue into the Bias Moshiach! {as the Chofetz Chaim stated about the Geulah...and bring Merit of the Kohen Tzedek - Shem along with the other Craftsmen: MBD ,MBY ,and Eliyahu!


Leah said...


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