Friday, February 10, 2012

Yisro 5632 Second Ma'amar

Chazal teach us that before Yisro converted to Judaism he was called יֶתֶר/Yeser.  After he converted, an extra letter ו/vav, was added to his name.  He became יִתְרוֹ/Yisro.[1]  What is the significance of this extra letter?

The Chiddushei HaRim explains.  The prophet Micha (7:18) said, “מִי אֵ-ל כָּמוֹךָ נֹשֵׂא עָוֹן וְעֹבֵר עַל פֶּשַׁע לִשְׁאֵרִית נַחֲלָתוֹ .../Who is a God like You, Who forgives iniquity and passes over the transgression of the remnant of His portion? …”  Micha is referring to the nation of Israel.  He calls us “the remnant of His portion.”  Why does the prophet refer only to a remnant instead of to the entire nation?  Chazal say that Micha is referring to those who make themselves like a remnant.[2]  Cultivating the quality of humility is a surefire way to merit God’s forgiveness.

The name יֶתֶר/Yeser also means remnant.  According to the Chiddushei HaRim, the name Yeser indicates that  Yisro had the attribute of humility.  Before Yisro converted, though, his humility did not result in God passing over his transgressions.  The prophet Micha was referring to the Jewish people when he proclaimed his timeless message of God’s forgiveness.  However, after he converted, Yisro became a part of the remnant of God’s portion.  After Yisro converted, he enjoyed God’s forgiveness together with the other humble members of the nation of Israel.  To show that he was included, a vav, which signifies connection, was added to his name.

[1] Shmos R. 27:8
[2] Rosh HaShanah 17a

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