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January 25, 2016 / conservadox

Dvar Torah- Yitro

At the beginning of this week’s Torah portion, Moses’s father-in-law Jethro urges Moses to start delegating his judging authority to other Jews.  Arama poses the question: isn’t this just common sense?  And if so, why didn’t Moses figure this out on his own?

Arama explains that because God had not yet revealed God’s laws, “Moses’ personal judgment was essential in arriving at decisions… It would have been impossible for Moses to find a multitude of judges whose objectivity etc could be assumed.”  Moreover, “To win acceptance, Moses needed to explain the reasons for his decisions.”

In other words, Moses didn’t appoint judges at first because the multitude of ex-slaves weren’t really competent yet to judge each other, since they didn’t have any real guidelines.  But on the negative side, the absence of guidelines also meant Moses himself was even more worn out by resolving disputes than he would have been later, since he didn’t have the Torah to justify quick decisions.

So given these concerns, why did Moses even accept Jethro’s advice?  Arama quotes Exodus 18:19, which states “I will advise you, and may the Lord be with you. [You] represent the people before God, and you shall bring the matters to God.”  He then interprets this statement to mean that Moses “accepted the suggestion to ask God for the requisite legislation.” Thus, the actual appointment of judges must have taken place after the revelation of the Torah, because at that point the Jews had some guidelines to help them resolve disputes.



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