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Animal Soul Energy

Yisro (Jethro), the father-inlaw of Moses, was a priest of idolatry who investigated every known form of idol-worship in his time. When he heard the miracles that G-d performed for the Jewish people in Egypt, he proclaimed, “Now I know that G-d is greater than all other gods.” He came to the conclusion that the Jewish G-d is the one true G-d, and left his idols behind to join the Jewish people in the desert. Moses, with the entire Jewish nation following behind him, went forth to greet his father-in-law. This week’s Torah portion starts off with this episode, and the Torah portion is named Yisro in Jethro’s honor.

Yet Yisro’s visit is overshadowed by a far more significant event in Jewish history—the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai. Why, then, is the portion named Yisro, after a relatively insignificant figure?

The Zohar writes that Yisro’s acknowledgement of G-d’s might, when he said “Now I know that G-d is greater than all other gods,” was the final step that precipitated G-d’s giving the Torah. When Yisro, the greatest of all non-Jewish priests and prophets, acknowledged G-d, this was the signal that the world was ready to receive the Torah.

We learn a phenomenal lesson from Yisro. The Hebrew word Yisro has the root of Yeser—excess. Our physical pleasures and bodily desires are for excesses, things that are not necessary for our service of G-d. Within each of us there is a “Yisro,” which tries to draw us after physical temptations.

When we decide to dedicate the inner “Yisro” only towards G-dly and spiritual ends, such as Yisro did, it becomes much easier to study Torah and fulfill Mitzvot. The divine soul is assisted by the energy of the animal soul, which has intense drive and vigor, if it can only be channeled to the proper ends. Every person has the ability to utilize the animal soul for good, since the Torah was given to the entire Jewish people, without any exceptions. Like Yisro, we are all capable of undergoing a radical transformation in our lives and acknowledging that G-d is indeed the only true power in the universe. In fact, G-d waited for Yisro to arrive before giving the Torah, to symbolize that all of us can transform the inner Yisro to good.

May G-d give all of us the strength to work with the animal soul and utilize its drives for holiness. Hand in hand, the G-dly soul and the animal soul will work together to fulfill our ultimate purpose in this world, to reveal G-dliness and prepare the world for the ultimate revelation of Moshiach.

(Based on an address of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Likutei Sichos vol. 4, p. 1271)



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