Moshe and Bnei Yisrael were camped in the desert and living a life full of miracles. They ate the amazing food from Heaven, and enjoyed the protection of the miraculous Clouds of Glory which surrounded them.
A year earlier, Moshe was sent on a mission to Egypt to convince Paraoh to free the Jews. He had left his wife, Tzipporah, and his two sons, Gershom and Eliezer, safely behind in their hometown of Midyan. There, they lived with Tzipporah’s father, Yisro, who was once the most respected bishop of the entire land of Midyan.
Now that the Jews were no longer slaves in Egypt, it was time for Moshe to be reunited with his beloved family and he was in for a pleasant surprise. His father-in-law had heard about the great Exodus from Egypt, the splitting of the sea, and the spectacular defeat of the powerful Amalek army, and he was so very happy.
“The time has come!” Yisro announced to Tzipporah and the kids with much excitement. “Pack your bags!”
What? “Where? When?” asked the daughters.
Yisro filled them in on all the details and off they went, leaving the comfort of their home in Midyan, ready and anxious to join up with Moshe and Bnei Yisrael in the hot desert.
The name of each Parsha is not just one of the first words of the Parsha. Rather, it is also the theme of the Parsha, similar to the title of a book.
The highlight of this Parsha, as we are about to see, is the most important event in history – the giving of the Torah. So why is it named after a bishop, Yisro?!
Actually, this is the perfect name for this Parsha! Yisro converted to Judaism. Similarly, at the giving of the Torah, there was a mass “conversion.” Bnei Yisrael were then transformed into a special, holy nation, responsible for keeping all the Mitzvos in the Torah!
BTW: Another famous person who converted to Judaism was Rus, the great-grandmother of King David. Her name is hidden in the name of this week’s Parsha. Can you find it?
Although Yisro rejoiced for the Jews because they were no longer slaves in Egypt, he also felt sad that the Egyptians were punished.
What caused his sadness? Did Yisro have a special connection to the Egyptians?
Indeed so! Looking back to the end of Parshas Chayei Sarah, we see that Midyan was the name of the son of Hagar, who was an Egyptian, the daughter of the king of Egypt. No wonder Yisro, who was also from Midyan, was sad for the Egyptians.