פרשת יתרו, יח,א:
וַיִּשְׁמַע יִתְרוֹ כֹהֵן מִדְיָן, חֹתֵן מֹשֶׁה, אֵת כָּל-אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה ה’ לְמֹשֶׁה, וּלְיִשְׂרָאֵל עַמּוֹ: כִּי-הוֹצִיא ה’ אֶת-יִשְׂרָאֵל, מִמִּצְרָיִם.
“Now Moshe’s father in law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, heard all that G-d had done for Moshe and for Yisrael His people, that Hashem had taken Israel out of Egypt”.
The Torah describes Jethro in that he is firstly Moshe Rabeinu’s father in law, and secondly, The priest of Midian.
We can understand the reference to Jethro being Moshe Rabeinu’s father in law. But why mention here that Jethro is the “priest of Midian”, an obvious idol worshipping nation? There is obviously a reason for mentioning both details at the very start of the Parsha describing Jethro’s arrival.
As a youngster, I remember a discussion I held with my father זצ”ל about the Israeli “anti-religious” parties. I said sadly; “how could they ever return to any degree of our tradition?” My father’s response was that he is in a way more concerned about the “disinterested” or oblivious people than about the “anti” groups. The “anti” people, he said, are interested in Yiddishkeit, it bothers them, and therefore they (or some of them) might sooner or later find their way back. Those who are disinterested in religion altogether are therefore less likely to rejoin our values…
The Torah describes the two important motives which drove Jethro to come. Firstly, because he was an honest priest. A person searching for truth. The second motive was his close relationship with his son in law, who by now was the leader of Am Yisrael.
When searching for truth (on any given subject) we should follow the Jethro guidelines: 1.Search it ourselves, And 2. See who else is there. The combination of our judgement and association with others whom we respect and admire is a healthy way of decision making.
Rabbi Chaim Michael Biberfeld