"What advice did Yisro give Moshe Rabbeinu
?" Mrs. Schwartz asked at the beginning of parshah
Many of the sixth graders raised their hands. Mrs. Schwartz pointed at Ruth. "Yisro advised Moshe to appoint judges who would help him judge the people," Ruth answered.
"Mrs. Schwartz," Brochah asked," Yisro's advice makes sense. Appointing judges seems like the logical thing for any leader to do, especially since there were over 600,000 people to lead. Why didn't Moshe Rabbeinu come up with the idea himself?"
"That's an excellent question, Brochah," replied Mrs. Schwartz. "If you think about it, the question becomes even greater. One of the reasons HaShem chose Moshe as a leader was because He saw how Moshe cared for each and every one of the sheep in his flock. But here, it seems that Moshe was not aware of the people's needs. Instead, it appears to have been Yisro, an outsider, who understood and suggested a plan to make life easier for everyone.
"There is another incident later in this parshah that can help us answer this question," Mrs. Schwartz continued. "What was the Jewish people's reaction when they heard the first two of the Aseres Hadibros from HaShem?"
"They were frightened," replied Sarah. "They asked Moshe to speak to them instead of HaShem."
"Oh, I see," Shoshanah called out. "Here we have exactly the same question. Since Moshe was such a dedicated leader, shouldn't he have known that the people would not be able to listen to HaShem's voice directly?"
"Good thinking, Shoshanah," Mrs. Schwartz praised. "Now I'll explain. Moshe Rabbeinu was a dedicated leader and he knew his people very well. He was so devoted to his people that he wanted them to hear and understand HaShem in the same way that he himself did. He was able to lift them up to this level, and they could hear HaShem's voice directly.
"But the people wanted something different. 'Moshe,' they told him, 'you are doing so much for us by raising us to your level. Still, we want to understand HaShem's words on our own level.' We see that HaShem agreed. 'They have spoken correctly,' HaShem said. So for the remaining eight Dibros, it was Moshe and not HaShem who spoke to the people.
"Now we can understand why Moshe wanted to judge the people himself. He wanted to lift them up and give them the chance to understand HaShem's wisdom like he did. But Yisro saw that it wouldn't work; the people couldn't always be uplifted to Moshe's level.
"He told Moshe: 'You bring them the word of HaShem. Teach them the Torah and the mitzvos and tell them how to lead their lives. But appoint others to help you judge.
" 'When you are teaching people Torah,' Yisro told him, 'you can raise them to your level. But when they have an argument and need to be judged, they are not on your level. Then they cannot be uplifted to hear the word of HaShem the way you can. Appoint others to be the judges.'
"We see that HaShem agreed to Yisro's advice, and Moshe appointed judges. Having a group of wise leaders like these judges to guide the people was important - and not only at the time Yisro gave his advice. It would become even more important in the future when the Jewish people would enter Eretz Yisrael and Moshe Rabbeinu would no longer be there to lead them."
"Mrs. Schwartz," Tzipporah raised her hand, "are you saying that Moshe Rabbeinu wasn't thinking about the future?"
"No. Just remember, this was before the sin of the Miraglim," explained Mrs. Schwartz. "There was no reason for Moshe to think that he would not lead the Jewish people into Eretz Yisrael. As we know, the original plan was that the geulah was supposed to come after Moshe brought the Jews into the land. At that point, the Jewish people would learn Torah from Mashiach who, like Moshe Rabbeinu, would uplift them and enable them to hear the words of HaShem directly."
(Adapted from Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XVI, p. 203)