This week’s Torah portion is the only portion in the Book of Exodus named after a person—Yitro. It is a special portion, as it recounts the monumental moment of Matan Torah (the Giving of the Torah). Yitro is the Hebrew name for “Jethro,” Moses’ father-in-law.
Jethro observed how Moses alone was settling all of the disputes among the Israelites, and was concerned that this heavy burden would eventually wear him down. He not only had the wisdom to recognize that there was a problem, but he also did something very important: he offered a solution. He advised Moses to appoint capable, trustworthy judges to help settle all of the disputes, except for the most difficult cases, which would be brought to Moses. Moses listened carefully to Jethro’s advice and found that it was good.
By following Jethro’s advice and asking for help in adjudicating the Israelites’ disputes, the burden on Moses was made light. It is clear that Jethro was a wise man, and that he was respected by Moses.