This week’s parsha starts off with the words “,וישמע יתרו” “And Yisro heard.” Many mepharshim ask what exactly it was that יתרו heard. Rashi says he heard about the splitting of the sea and the war against עמלק. Yet these two events were public knowledge; the Midrash explains that when the ים סוף split, every single body of water also split, so everybody knew about this miracle that Hashem did for בני ישראל. Why does the פסוק specifically mention that יתרו heard about this? Everyone heard!
The Torah singles out יתרו so that we can learn an important lesson. To be a שומע, someone who can hear, does not merely mean passing the hearing test at your doctor’s appointment. Really hearing means internalizing the new piece of information you’ve just received. At the splitting of the Yam Suf, Hashem sent a message out to every single person that He was the Creator, the King. Yet יתרו alone truly heard this message! The Zohar says he was humbled and became a ‘ירא ה. He dropped everything and took Moshe’s wife, Tziporah, and two sons, Gershom and Eliezer, to meet משה and בני ישראל in the desert.
Many times in life we sit and listen to someone, claiming to “hear” all they’ve said, when really it goes “in one ear and out the other.” The Midrash Tanchuma says, “There are those that hear and lose, and those that hear and profit.” Hearing and listening properly is the key to one’s success in this world. Hashem is constantly sending us messages. It is our responsibility to process these messages and take them in. When we go through an experience, only if we understand and learn from it have we truly “heard” the message that was just sent our way.
May we all learn from יתרו how to be a true שומע and get the most out of every experience we go through in life!
Student studying in Tiferet