Friday, January 17, 2014

Shabbat Thought: Parasha Yitro

Each week in the Synagogue, a different portion of scripture is studied.  The Torah (Old Testament) is broken into portions which are read over the course of a year.  At the end of the year, it starts over again so the Bible is read annually.  This week's parsha is from Exodus 18:1-20:23.  The story I'm focusing on today is from verses 13-23.
13 Next day, Moses sat as magistrate among the people, while the people stood about Moses from morning until evening. 14 But when Moses' father-in-law saw how much he had to do for the people, he said, "What is this thing that you are doing to the people? Why do you act alone, while all the people stand about you from morning until evening?" 15 Moses replied to his father-in-law, "It is because the people come to me to inquire of God.16 When they have a dispute, it comes before me, and I decide between one person and another, and I make known the laws and teachings of God."

17 But Moses' father-in-law said to him, "The thing you are doing is not right; 18 you will surely wear yourself out, and these people as well. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. 19 Now listen to me. I will give you counsel, and God be with you! You represent the people before God: you bring the disputes before God, 20 and enjoin upon them the laws and the teachings, and make known to them the way they are to go and the practices they are to follow. 21 You shall also seek out from among all the people capable men who fear God, trustworthy men who spurn ill-gotten gain. Set these over them as chiefs of thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens, and 22 let them judge the people at all times. Have them bring every major dispute to you, but let them decide every minor dispute themselves. Make it easier for yourself by letting them share the burden with you.23 If you do this — and God so commands you — you will be able to bear up; and all these people too will go home unwearied."

This story always touches me.  Moses - called by God Himself, the herald of the departure from Egypt - gets discouraged and overwhelmed.  Wait.  I get discouraged and overwhelmed. One of the greatest prophets ever lived has a story that shows he's human!!!

This.  This, I can relate to.

All the people were standing around just watching Moses settle disputes.  Moses was getting worn out.  Jethro, his father-in-law, advised him to delegate the job to worthy people, and share the burden.  Moses listens.  The good advice worked.  Moses was less stressed.

Moses had grown up in Pharaoh's household.  He knew how to be a leader.  The Pharaoh was the center of everything, with the final word on everything.  I think.  It makes sense.  The forty years that Moses was in Egypt probably created habits of leadership that made sense to Moses.  He runs it all and everyone stands around.  Jethro, on the other hand, as a shepherd, was probably part of a more clan-based type of leadership.  The heads of families made small decisions, and there were leaders of a certain number of families, and these leaders reported to the top.  This was how Jethro suggested Moses should run the country.  Moses was not the only one capable of running some things.  He was in charge of the big picture, but not every tiny detail.  

How can we apply this to our lives?  Well.  I'm a mom.  It's my primary job.  As the CEO of my household, I should probably apply this to running the home.  It's perfectly okay for me to delegate some of the chores to my kids.  I shouldn't take care of the daily things they can take care of.  It is important for them to clean up after themselves, hang up their coats, mop up the milk they spill.  If each of my three kids does this, then I have three times less work to do!  

When we trust God, we can trust others.  When we can ease our burdens, our stress levels can go down.  Then, our focus doesn't have to be on the small things, we can have time and energy to focus on the the things Gods wants us to concentrate.

"If you do this — and God so commands you — you will be able to bear up; and all these people too will go home unwearied."

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