Go Out and Learn
The Pasuk says,”וַיִּשְׁמַ֞ע יִתְר֨וֹ כֹהֵ֤ן מִדְיָן֙ חֹתֵ֣ן משֶׁ֔ה אֵת֩ כָּל־אֲשֶׁ֨ר עָשָׂ֤ה אֱלֹהִים֙ לְמשֶׁ֔ה וּלְיִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל עַמּ֑וֹ כִּֽי־הוֹצִ֧יא יְהוָֹ֛ה אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵ֖ל מִמִּצְרָֽיִם – Yisro, the minister of Midian, the father-in-law of Moshe, heard everything that Hahsem did to Moshe and to Yisroel, His people that HaShem had taken Israel out of Egypt”.
Why, in fact, did Yisro leave everything he had in order to join Klal Yisroel? The literal translation of the word וַיִּשְׁמַ֞ע (and he heard). Rashi quotes the Gemara (See Tractate Zevachim 116A) that states that Yisro heard about the defeat of Amalek in battle and about the splitting of the Sea, and therefore he came.
To better understand Yisro’s greatness, let us look at what happened.
The entire world had also heard the miraculous occurrences that Hashem did for Bnei Yisroel, and yet not one of them came forward to attach themselves to Hashem’s chosen people. Yisro was the only one to leave his comforts and go out into the wilderness to attach himself to Hashem’s people. What prompted him to do this? Living in Midian seeing the wayward ways of his surrounding environment and how everyone still continued to sin in spite of being witness to the greatness of Hashem, caused Yisro to react and take action and do as we read in the Hagadah on Pesach which says “Tzei Ulimad – go out and learn.” If a person wants to truly learn Torah, he must first get out of worldly frivolities. Reb Asher of Stolin (1760-1828, the son of Rebbe Aharon HaGadol of Karlin) said that this lesson is hinted to in this passage of the Haggadah, by putting “go out” first and only then saying “and learn.”
Yisro realized that if he truly wanted to live a life dedicated to the Torah, he would have to get out from where he was, drowning in worldly pleasures, go out to the desert and meet up with Hahsem’s people who are supernatural rather than worldly.
Today, we live in a society where things that are recognized as normal are often not acceptable for the Jewish people. We must be wholly dedicated in our efforts to fulfill Hashem’s will. As Chazal teach us (Avos 5:23): “Be bold as a leopard, light as an eagle, swift as a deer, and strong as a lion, to carry out the will of your Father in heaven.” We must not let our yeitzer hara (evil inclination) hold us back from reaching our fullest spiritual potential. It is incumbent on us to extract ourselves from our surroundings, to learn Torah and perform Mitzvos.
If Yisro, a chief preist of idols, can do teshuvah and return to Hashem by physically leaving his surroundings, then we must certainly struggle to do the same by focusing our lives and channeling all that we do for the sake of Hashem. This is then how we leave our surroundings – by actually being in this world but completely determined and focused on our heavenly Service.
May we all merit to continually strive to improve in our Avodas Hashem, and come closer to our purpose which is to come closer Hahsem.