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What is the connection between marriage and the words ‘not good’?

By Rabbi Jonathan Tawil
January 30, 2018

In our Parasha, Yitro came to visit Moshe and saw that there were lines of people waiting to have their case judged by Moshe. Yitro openly questioned Moshe’s allowance of such a thing (Shemot 18:17): “לא טוב הדבר, this is not good!”

Yitro suggested that instead of everyone queuing to see Moshe, he should organise judges of tens, hundreds thousands etc in order to alleviate the work load. Only tough cases should be brought to Moshe.

What’s interesting to note is the language Yitro used. He specifically stated – this is ‘not good’.

The Baal Haturim points out that the first time the Torah mentions these words (not good) is when Hashem created Adam and stated (Berieshit 2:18), “לא טוב, it is not good – for man to be alone; I (Hashem) will make for him a helpmate.”

Is there a connection between the loneliness of man and the way Moshe was conducting his judgement?

What is so bad about man being alone? Why does the Torah seem to connect the two by stating they are not good?

There is a joke that the words ‘not good’ in Bereishit refer to a critical mother in law – once married, you hear these words resounding quite often!

But there is deeper more beautiful lesson to be seen here.

Hashem created a helpmate for Adam so that together they could work through the challenges of life and help each other maximize their potential. A man and woman have the ability to work together and to spur each other on to grow to great spiritual heights. One of the most powerful ways that this takes place is through the cooperation between them. Each person knows that the other can help out and assist.

A study was done involving 200 hundred people in which one man and one woman were put in a room together and given five minutes to memories one hundred unrelated words on a wide range of topics. Half of the subjects were married to one another and the other half were men and women who had just met for the first time then and there. The married people were able to get the task done significantly better than the random men and women.

Researchers concluded based on questionnaires the reason for this. The married people knew each other’s strong and weak points and thus were able to compensate for one another. The non-couples lost all of their time trying to memorize everything by themselves, an impossible task.

When Moshe was the sole judge of the Jewish nation, Yitro saw that it was not working. People were tied up in line all day and it was also taking a toll on Moshe. Yitro taught Moshe the secret of dividing chores. He said, “You can’t do this alone, you need to get other judges to help you out.”

When people come together, great things are accomplished.

Thus Hashem told Moshe, listen to Yitro for his advice was beneficial.

Yitro had seven names, yet the one consistently used for him was the one that signified one of his greatest accomplishments: teaching the lesson of people working together!

Yitro was so called for his name (Yeter) means to add. Due to his wise thinking an entire Chapter (in which Moshe was told to appoint judges) was added to the Torah.

Yitro is such an important Parasha that we find the revelation of Sinai and the Ten Commandments being given in our Parasha. The Parasha takes its name after Yitro to emphasise that the greatest of a true Torah home is one where the spouses work together to serve Hashem!

That is the connection between marriage and this weeks Parasha. Marriage is about loving each other to an extent that we unite. We share different chores but for the same goal of building a family. Yitro taught that Moshe could also share his out the chores amongst Am Yisrael and all would benefit.

Being alone is – not good – we should strive to find our soul mate, strive to learn the wisdom of (and unite with) Hashem and strive for unity within Klal Yisrael.

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