Friday, February 09, 2007

Parshas Yisro II

There is a concept in Judaism called the "Shaas haKosher." Translated as "an opportune time", it refers to the time that it is optimal for an individual to move on an opportunity in his/her life. In this week's Parsha, Parshas Yisro, there are a couple of examples that help explain this concept.

In the beginning of the Parsha we learn about Yisro's conversion. Rashi tells us that he heard about both the splitting of the sea and the war with Amalek. Inferred from Rashi is that if he would've only heard about the splitting of the sea alone, it wouldn't have been enough. Why specifically did he feel that only after both of these events did he find it to be the "Shaas haKosher" to go ahead and convert? Rav Moshe Wolfson asks the question, saying that he should've been "wowed" enough after the splitting of the sea to convert right then. He answers that had Yisro sent in his conversion application after Krias Yam Suf, it would've been denied. And why would it have been denied? They would've said no because of the Gemara in Yevamos which states that in the times of Moshiach, Dovid, and Shlomo, converts will not/were not accepted. The reason being: things in the time of moshiach, Dovid, and Shlomo were extremely good for the Jews. Therefore, we must suspect that the reason that people want to convert is to be a part of the success and not out of pure intentions. Therefore, Yisro would've been denied as a convert, because who wouldn't have wanted to be part of a group of people who are worthy enough for G-d to split a sea for? Thus, he waited until after the war with Amalek; but why specifically after the war with Amalek? Because, as we all know, Amalek cools off the steaming bath, thus allowing all of the rest of our enemies to be able to jump in to attack us. Only after Yisro saw through the war of Amalek that the Jews could be attacked did he go ahead and want to convert; he proved his intentions were pure. Had Yisro not contemplated his decision and rushed into converstion, he would've been denied. And had he waited and longer, there's a good chance his passion for Yiddishkeit could've worn off. Case in point #1.

We see the second example in the Parsha when the Jews reach Har Sinai and Moshe ascends to get preliminary instructions from Hashem. The Jews arrive, and he immediately goes up. The Ohr haChaim haKadosh comments that Moshe should have waited to have been instructed by Hashem to ascend...it seems a bit chutzpadik that he would go up without being told so. The Ohr haChaim answers that really, Moshe had already received instructions to ascend, albeit it at a much earlier time. He says that at the incident with the Sneh/burning bush, G-d told Moshe that he and the Jews, eventually, were going to serve Hashem on this mountain. So, we fast forward to our parsha when Moshe and the Jews arrive. They come, and having already been instructed to ascend, Moshe goes up. No playing around; he had all of the prerequisites to ascend, the proper place, and prior permission. Case in point #2 of someone acted at the optimal time. Had Moshe waited, he would've left Hashem waiting.

Of course, it's easy to say that we need to act at the proper time...but actually being able to figure out when the proper time is...that's the hard part. It should be in our prayers that we should be able to recognize when the proper time to act on certain opportunities in life are, and we should follow through and act on them.

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