By, Noam Blumenthal
This week’s parsha starts with Moshe telling Yisro in detail all of what happened in Egypt, and Yisro’s response:
“And Yisro rejoiced over all the kindness that Hashem had given Israel when delivering them from the Mitzrim. Yisro said, ‘Blessed HaShem, who delivered you from Mitzrayim and from Paroh, and who delivered the people from under the hand of the Mitzrim. Now I know that HaShem is greater than all gods, yes, by the result of their schemes against [the people].’”
The question is why is Yisro comparing HaShem to other gods if he knows there are no other gods!?
The Gemara in Sanhedrin brings down a machlokes about Yisro’s reaction to hearing about the miracles that HaShem performed in Yitzias Mitzrayim. Shmuel holds that Yisro reacted with goosebumps. Rav holds that Yisro reacted by giving himself a circumcision.
Rashi quotes this Gemara and brings down Shmuel’s position that Yisro reacted by rejoicing and getting goosebumps. Rashi quotes that Gemara that this shows that Yisro felt pained by the destruction of Mitzrayim. If while Yisro was rejoicing, he also felt pained, it is clear that according to Shmuel, Yisro was in conflict.
In the Gemara, Rav adds that one cannot belittle a convert in his (the convert’s) presence, because he will surely take offense. Rav gives insight into what Yisro’s conflict was. While on the one hand he was able to recognize the greatness of HaShem, he compared HaShem’s greatness to other gods, revealing his identification with Egypt. This is explained by Shmuel when he tells us that Yisro had goosebumps. Yisro, being a convert, was moved by what HaShem did for the Jews, but there was a part of him that identified with Mitzrayim and on some level, sympathized with the Mitzrim. When one is within the 10 generations of a descendant of a convert or a convert himself, one has an identification with where he came from. We learn that even a tzadik like Yisro had an identification with Egypt, kal vachomer any convert who may not be on such a high level. This helps us to understand the feelings of a convert and be able to be sensitive and kind to converts, as the mitzvah instructs us to do.