Yisro: Always Be a Bachur

After 14 years together, our refrigerator finally passed away.  Which means, this year, every one of our kitchen appliances, which were also 14 years old, died and were replaced.  What made replacing the refrigerator special was, I actually had to research and buy a Kosher Refrigerator, with a real Kosher Seal of Approval.  Due to advances in technology, even using the refrigerator nowadays can cause issues on Shabbos.  With the old fridge, I simply had to disconnect the light that goes on when you open the door.  But, with all the sensors and whatnot, opening a fridge door causes a lot more issues.  So, our new fridge, besides being bigger, now has a special Shabbos mode to it, which I have to turn on before Shabbos or Yom Tov.  One setting lasts for 40 hours and one for 80 hours.  It’s amazing how something as simple as a fridge can cause so much trouble.


I found a talk given by the Moshgiach of Toras Simcha, Rav Zisha Salomon, on this week’s parsha.


When Moshe’s father-in-law, Yisro, comes to the camp of the Jewish people, he stays a bit, gives some advice, and heads back to his home in Midian.  The Midrash relates part of the conversation that took place between Moshe and Yisro.  Moshe wanted him to stay, and Yisro felt it was better for him to leave.  Yisro said to Moshe, “You are like the sun and Aharon is like the moon.  Me?  I’m but a mere candle.  What can I do here?  It would be better for me to go back to Midian, which is a darkened room, and at least there I can give off a little light and do something good."  Moshe didn’t seem to agree with this.


I think the following is his personal insight into the Midrash, rather something he saw somewhere.


What exactly is the argument between them?  Yisro figured, “Who am I?  I’m an old man; I’m starting late in the game; I’m a mere candle.  What can I add to the sun and the moon?  I’ll go back to the place of darkness and at least there I can do some good."  Moshe disagreed.  He said, “You have no idea what your potential is!  Yes, you’re a candle, but that’s right now!  If you stay and learn here in a place that is lit up in holiness, who knows what you can make of yourself!  It’s not too late!”


This, says Rav Salomon, is the pit that so many people fall into after yeshiva, whether they are in the working world or in the kollel.  He asked, “What’s the difference between a yeshiva bochur and an avreich?  The bochur is young and single and thinks every year, ‘I’m learning how to learn, I’m learning how to learn,' and therefore everything is exciting for him.  It’s new.  His goal right now is to ‘learn how to learn.' Then after a few years in kollel, what does the avreich think? ‘What have I really accomplished?  Nothing much…,' and he ends up giving up on himself.  And what of the working person?  He spends most of his day, heavily involved in the non-Jewish world, busy with non-Torah things.  He’s holding on to what little he can do in terms of davening and learning”.


Both people need to change their mentality.  They both need to look at the world through the eyes of a young bachur.  He needs to look at the world as if it’s an opportunity to ‘learn how to learn,' and opportunity of growth.  The avreich needs to know that accomplishment isn’t the main thing, but growing in learning and mitzvos is.  The working man needs to know that everything he does, even if it’s not inherently a “Torah thing," can be used for growth and done for the sake of Torah.


Dovid HaMelech knew that he was going to die on Shabbos.  So what did he do?  Every Shabbos he busied himself solely in Torah so the Angel of Death would have no power over him.  Finally, the Angel of Death, getting a bit fed up on being pushed off, caused a tree to shake violently, which caught Dovid HaMelech’s attention, and at that point when he was not involved in Torah, he took his neshama.


Rav Salomon asked, “What?  He learned the whole day? He didn’t eat any Shabbos meals? He didn’t use the washroom?  Of course he did!  But everything he did, he did as a mitzvah and with the intention of fulfilling the Torah.  His eating was Torah.  His using the washroom was Torah.  His looking at a shaking tree?  That wasn’t Torah.  It’s a very high level that we have no connection to, but it’s something we need to know and understand."


So, in the end, we need to constantly be like a young yeshiva bochur.  We need to always be growing and looking for opportunities to grow.  One should never allow himself to get spiritually stale.  And most importantly, never give up on ourselves thinking that it’s simply too late.


Have a great Shabbos!