Kli Yakar Exodus: Yitro
Strength of Trust, Strength of Mind
“What loneliness is more lonely than distrust?” -George Eliot
It has become a virtue in our day and age to doubt and to question. There is a certain cynicism and distrust that frequently permeates our lives and relationships that unfortunately is often not without reason.
Hence, one who is wary, even paranoid, may be safer than a trusting soul. The cynics are strong and wise. The naïve are weaklings and fools.
There is a frequent dualism in scripture that we often either ignore or take as merely a poetic device. This dualism appears at the introduction to the giving of the Ten Commandments. The dualism is a repetition of the term “to say”:
“And God SAID all of these things to SAY.” Exodus 20:1
The Kli Yakar explains that God transmitted the commandments in two different ways: ‘strongly’ and ‘softly’. What is most interesting is who the Kli Yakar considers as the different audiences.
God commanded ‘softly’ together with an explanation of the commandment. Apparently weaker minds would only successfully accept the commandment if the rationale was explained.
God commanded ‘strongly’ without elaboration. This for was for the stronger minds that could accept the commanded without question. Their strength of mind, their strength of trust in God and His worthiness, enabled them to internalize the commandment without further need for rationale or explanations.
May our levels of trust always have reason to grow and may we climb from doing the right thing with a rationale, to not needing one.
Shabbat Shalom and Happy Tu B’Shvat,
To my sister and partner, Ilana Epstein, on starting our new office. For my trust in her designs and her trust in my budgeting.