|Why Name Parshat Matan Torah after a GER?
Published: Friday, January 18, 2019 07:53:40 AM
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Yitro, Moshe's father-in-law, is the name of the Parsha in which we read the account of the most important event in Jewish and World history, the Giving of the Torah. It is remarkable that this Parsha has as its title, the name of someone who was not even born a Jew. Yitro was a pagan idol worshipper, but only later in life abandoned his paganism and recognized the One True G-d.
Why was Yitro the GER chosen to have the Parsha of MATAN TORAH named after him? It is because Yitro is the greatest illustration of what the Torah is meant to accomplish. The Torah's goal is to transform idolaters into believers and pagans into the worshippers of the One True G-d.
Judaism is not a restrictive club for born Jews only. Any non-Jew who sincerely desires to embrace Torah true Judaism is welcome. In fact, the most repeated Mitzva in the Torah is to love the GER. The Sefer HaChinuch in Mitzva 63 quotes the Talmud in Baba Mitzia that 24 out of 613 Mitzvot discuss loving and not mistreating a GER.
When the Jewish People stood at Mount Sinai and were prepared to accept the Torah, G-d defined our mission by telling us, "If you will listen to My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own, special treasure from among all nations. For all the Earth is Mine, and you shall be to Me a Kingdom of Kohanim and a Holy Nation" (Shemot 19).
Yehudah Halevi wonders about the phrase MAMLECHET KOHANIM (A Kingdom of Kohanim). Surely the Jewish People will not all be Kohanim. The 12 Tribes were divided into Kohanim, Levi’im and Israelites. Most Jews are simply Israelites. So why does G-d say that the Jewish People in its entirety will become a "Kingdom of Kohanim"?
Yehudah Halevi answers that just as the Kohanim were to be the teachers and leaders for the rest of the Jewish People, so too we Jews have to become the leaders and teachers of the rest of the world. That is the meaning of "… You shall be My own special treasure from among all nations…" (Shemot 19).
We are to be the Kohanim, who will insure that all nations eventually will acknowledge the One True G-d. That's why G-d says "…for all the earth is Mine"(Shmot 19).
We Jews perform our G-d given task in 2 ways – Judaism for Jews and those who want to sincerely convert to Judaism, and the Torah's 7 Noahide Laws for the gentiles. Our motto to non-Jews is "Keep the 7 and go to Heaven!”
Rambam in Sefer HaMitzvot states that teaching the 7 Mitzvot of Bnei Noach to non-Jews is part of the Mitzva to love HASHEM.
This Divine Plan is used by the Talmud to explain why Jews throughout history have been exiled around the globe. The Talmud offers the rationale that the punishment of our exile may have a totally different purpose. "G-d did not exile Israel among the nations but only so converts might join them, as is written, 'And I, (G-d), will plant her for Me in the land'… (Hoshea 2:25). "Surely a man plants a SEAH (a biblical measure) in order to harvest many KOR" (an even greater measure). (Pesachim 87b).
Our mission as Jews is to spread the knowledge of the One True G-d, as the prophet Yeshayahu says, "We are to be a light unto the nations". But before we can be a light unto the nations, we must first be a light to each other.