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  • Writer's pictureRabbi David Paskin

Honor Through Searching

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From Rabbi David

This week's Torah portion may be the most well known as it contains the Ten Commandments. The name of the portion is Yitro. Yitro was a pagan priest and the father-in-law of Moses — an idolater and the zayde of Moses’ children. How can we understand both the astonishing juxtapositions within this character and why he gets to be the namesake of this week's portion.

Rabbi Simcha Zissel Broida teaches that, “our tradition respects the seeker, the person who searches for the truth and never tires of that search, no matter how many blind alleys he encounters and no matter how much frustration he experiences. Yitro is described as an individual who worshiped every idol in the world in search of the truth. As he became disappointed with each faith that he explored and with each religion he practiced, he rejected that path and renewed his search. He retains the title high priest of Midian because it represents the heights he could achieve in the religious hierarchy within which he sought truth."

What speaks to me about this teaching is that Yitro earns his honor not by having all the answers but by constantly seeking them out. He lives in the questions and grows by deepening and broadening the questions he asks as he travels through life. In an age of Google and artificial intelligence, knowing how to ask good questions is a core competency that every child should learn.

We love questions at Gan Sinai, especially the open-ended ones. When your child brings home a painting, instead of asking them what colors they chose, ask them to tell you about their art work - let them decide what is important to share with you. When your child asks you a question, maybe don't give such a simple answer but instead, give them an answer that invites them to ask another question.

This is how we grow and earn honor - by searching, just like Yitro.

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