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Yitro Midrash Top
Yitro Midrash Bottom
x Give Me A "Vav"...

Who proof-read the Torah anyway, you may ask, once you notice that almost every "big name" in the Torah is spelled at least two different ways - sometimes there's a letter, sometimes the letter's missing. "Avram" becomes "Avrohom" and "Sarai" becomes "Sarah." Efron has a vav before the sale of the Machpelah cave, then loses it once the deal is signed! Didn't Moshe ever hear of "spell-check"? - or could there be a deeper meaning to the mystery of the menacing spelling mistakes?

The key to this quest for correct spelling lies in the story of Yitro's advice to Moshe. Judge for yourself: When Yitro heard all the commotion about Bnei Yisroel's exodus from Mitzrayim, he packed his bags and accompanied Tziporah and her sons to the camp of Yisroel. During a conversation with his son-in-law, Moshe, Yitro got the feeling that Moshe was havng a tough time playing leader, judge and jury to the three million members of Bnei Yisroel.

That's when Yitro gave the famous advice that changed the name of this week's Parsha forever. He advised Moshe Rabbeynu to cut himself some slack and share the beit din burden. Yitro laid out a plan to appoint judges - lots of judges. Seventy-eight thousand to be exact.

Well, this advice may not earn Yitro a page in a crooks book, but it certainly earned him a "vav" in his name. You see, Yitro's real name was "Yeter." Hashem gave him a vav at the end of his name to make it "Yitro". The extra vav is a sign that:

  1. Yitro became a Ger (convert).
  2. The entire episode involving the appointment of judges was added to the Torah to honor Yitro.
The rabbis teach us that there's a rule of thumb when it comes to the "Torah name-change game": Adding a letter to a name is the sign of a good deed. Taking away a letter from a name denotes an evil act. Efron, for example, lost his vav when he insisted upon being paid for the Machpelah cave, instead of giving it as a gift to Avrohom, the way he originally said he would. Avrohom, on the other hand, gained a "hay" to show that his spiritual level had soared to greater heights.

Yitro actually had a few more names:

"Chovav," to show that he loved the Torah.

"Chaver," like a friend, because he became a companion to Hashem.

"Re'uel," to show that he was loved by Hashem and was a friend to the people of Yisroel.

"Putiel," because he gave up his idolotry.

"Kaini," a name with a double meaning: He acquired the Torah, as in "kinyan" (acquired) ; and he was very zealous for Hashem, as in "Kanai" (zealot).

And that, my friends, teaches us that every letter counts when it comes to the Torah of Hashem.

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