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
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:
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 became a Ger (convert).
- The entire episode involving the appointment of judges was added to
the Torah to honor Yitro.
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.