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The portion Yitro begins with the story of a very negative person, who happened to have been the father-in-law of Moses. His name was Yitro, or Jethro, and he decides to leave his home to go be with Moses. The Torah and the kabbalists are very specific on the two pieces of news that Jethro heard which made him decide to go into the desert to Moses. The first was the miracle of the Splitting of the Sea. But that miracle is not the one that awakened him to go and be with Moses; it was hearing about the Battle of Amalek, which we know as the battle against the forces of the ego, the desire to receive for the self alone, the forces of doubt, which was actually what awakened him to desire to leave his home and spend his time with Moses.
The Zohar makes clear the Light that is available to us on Shabbat Yitro is the Light of the complete removal of darkness from this world. It says the Light of complete freedom - even freedom from the Angel of Death - was revealed on this Shabbat. So the Zohar says that these two things, the coming of Jethro and the revelation of the Light of Immortality, the Light of the complete removal of darkness from this world, had to be together. Which leads us to what occurred between the coming of Jethro and the revelation of what's called the Ten Utterances, which represent the Light of Immortality, the Light of the complete removal of darkness from this world.
Jethro, who had lived a life connected to the forces of darkness, comes to Moses, the great leader who has done amazing things, and says, “I see that the way you're leading is completely wrong. I have an idea to completely change everything and how you do it.” Now, if most of us were in a position of leadership, I think if we're honest with ourselves, would certainly not change everything around because somebody who is both brand new and also comes from a very negative place tells us to. However, not only does Moses listen to Jethro, he also literally changes his entire style and work of leadership based on the idea that Jethro gives him.
Why was Moses so open, and more importantly, what is it that we need to learn in order to really achieve the purpose for which our soul came into this world? Before we come to understand that, I want to share a section in the Zohar, in Kedoshim. It says, “A person should study, should learn, from every single person. You should study even from somebody who doesn't know.” What kind of thing is that? Here the Zohar is telling us that we should study from somebody even if we know they have no idea what they're talking about. Why? Because if we are open to study and hear, even from those who don't know, we will be awakened to receive.
What does that mean? The difference between an individual who has at least the potential of achieving what their soul came into this world to achieve and an individual who might be spiritual, who might have some wisdom, but will not have the possibility of achieving the purpose for which their soul came into this world, is one basic consciousness. And this really needs to be the basis of our lives, of our connection. If we want to be able to achieve the purpose for which our soul came into this world, the understanding should be that the distance between where we are right now, even if we’ve studied for many years and changed over the years, compared to where we need to be - as far as state of understanding, consciousness, wisdom, change, and growth - is great.
So, if that's true, and that's the way we live every day of our life, then we’re constantly open to hearing from absolutely everybody - those who know and those who don't know - because we are desperate to change, and have a tremendous desire to elevate from where we are to where we need to be, which is not the way most of us think. Even those of us who are spiritual and who are changing decide we’ll receive from this person, or that person, because we think maybe he knows a little bit more than us, while we won’t receive from somebody who we don't assign to be on our level or above us.
As long as we are only receiving from the people that we assign to be able to teach us, we will never receive the messages that we need to receive. We will never receive the wisdom that we're meant to receive. We'll never be able to change in the way that we're meant to change. We have to have a desperate need to change; if we have a desperate need to change, then the messages and wisdom will come to us.
Where will it come to us from? Often from the people who don't know. Often from the people who we don't think the wisdom should be coming from. Moses was desperate to change, no matter how much he had achieved, how elevated he was, or how much wisdom he had. He knew that from where he was to where he needed to be was a great distance. And because he was desperate to change and was open, even though he heard it coming from Jethro, he knew that it wasn't really coming from Jethro. Moses knew that because he had a desire to change, it just happened to be that the message came through Jethro. Not because Jethro was such an elevated soul and was so wise and knew Moses so well, but simply because Moses knew that if he was desperate to change, the messages would come to him from everywhere, even, as the Zohar tells us, from people who don't know.
If we’re desperate to change, if we’re truly aware of the distance between where we are and where we need to be, we’re open. And that openness doesn't simply mean that we will change… it means we will get the messages that we need to in order to change.