Bihaaloscha – Crutches

Yisro, Moshe Rabbenu’s father-in-law, intended to leave the Jewish people to go back to Midian, but in this week’s Parsha, Bihaaloscha, Moshe asks him to stay: “Moshe said to Chovav son of Reuel, the Midianite, the father-in-law of Moshe, ‘We are journeying to the place of which Hashem has said I shall give it to you. Go with us and we shall treat you well, for Hashem has spoken of good for Israel.’ He (Yisro whose name is also Chovav) said to him, ‘I shall not go; only to my land and my family shall I go.’ He (Moshe) said ‘Please do not forsake us, inasmuch as you know our encampment in the desert, and you have been eyes for us. And it shall be that if you come with us, then with the goodness with which Hashem will benefit us, we will do good to you’” Bamidbar, 10:29-32. Ultimately, Yisro parted ways from his son-in-law and the Jewish People.

Moshe gave a reason why Yisro should stay: “you have been eyes for us” (verse 31). The Rabbeinu Bachye elaborates that Moshe intended for Yisro to be a tour guide for the Jewish Nation. But the Rabbeinu Bachye then asks: what would have been the need for Yisro if the Clouds of Glory, signaling direct Divine intervention, were guiding the Jews through the desert? The Rabbeinu Bachye answers that Moshe requested this in order to strengthen the hearts of those amongst them who had little faith, whose hearts would be more comforted and strengthened by a human leader. (Click here for Hebrew text)

The Jews that Moshe was referencing must have been a very small percentage of the population; who could have that little faith after not only witnessing but being a part of all the miracles, glory, and awesome power of the Exodus from Egypt, Splitting of the Sea, and receiving the Torah at Har Sinai? Not only that, but they had also been traveling for some time while receiving food from heaven, fresh water flowing out of a rock, and the Clouds of Glory already guiding them! Yet there seems not to have been any claims by G-D or Moshe against those who did not feel comfortable enough to totally trust the Clouds of Glory, and Moshe just wanted to strengthen their faith in Hashem and their feeling of security by enlisting Yisro, who, knowing the desert like the back of his hand, would fill that void by leading the way through the Wilderness into the Holy Land.

Yet how would having a human, corporeal, tour guide strengthen those who had little faith? On the contrary, one would think that this would lead them to rely even less on Hashem, and more on the person?

However, Moshe in his profound wisdom and with his solid grip on human nature understood that some people require a crutch in order to strengthen their security and trust in Hashem. Just as a person with a broken leg uses a crutches to help him walk, enabling him to get back on his feet. But on the other hand, just as the individual can become too reliant on the crutches, harming his rehabilitation, so too, as in anything in life, there are ideal situations and there is the crutch. One can become reliant on the crutch and never grow out of it, but one can also use the crutch to help him or herself become better and strengthen his or her weaknesses.
It is up to you to choose to use a crutch, when needed, in the proper manner.

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