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What do we do about what we hear?

רעידת האדמה בטורקיה
טורקיה, אתמול. צילום: רויטרס

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

Everyone read about it in the news. Everyone spoke about it day and night. But only one person got up and did something. This week's Torah portion begins with these words: "Yitro, Moshe's father-in-law, the chieftain of Midian, heard all that God had done for Moshe and for Israel, His people."
Yitro hears about the Exodus of the children of Israel from slavery to freedom and cannot remain as he was before, indifferent to the astonishing news. He is moved to action: "And Yitro, Moshe's father-in-law, came." He comes to join the nation of Israel.
In the Song of the Sea in parashat Beshalach, the Torah describes how the nations reacted with fear and trembling to news of the Exodus. Millions of people followed this drama. But did this stir them to change? No. Only Yitro heard -- and changed.
Vast amounts of information compete for our attention. Every day we are subjected to a glut of news, but how many of us are moved by any of it to do something?
For example: In hearing about the recent earthquake in Turkey, did we consider that something similar could happen here? We could easily ignore what occurred and just continue as though nothing had happened. But we could also react by checking the stability of our buildings, praying for the recovery of the injured, and of course stopping for a moment to think about the fragility and the meaning of life.
The story of Yitro raises a most pertinent question: What do we do about what we hear?


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