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    Working day & night – Yitro

    Jethro visits Moses, by Gerard Jollain, 1670

    Yitro, the father-in-law of Moses, was a wise man. He recognised both the good and the not so good.

    He thought it was far from good that Moses was available to the people at all hours of the day: “Why do you sit there by yourself with the people standing before you from morning to night?” he asked (Ex.18:14).

    Yitro feared that Moses would wear himself out and had to learn how to ration his time. Working from morning to night was not good for anyone.

    Rashi, however, is not nearly as critical as Yitro. He thinks it was good for the leader to be engaged in giving judgment all day long. He took every case seriously and didn’t rush through an issue perfunctorily or impatiently.

    It is a lesson that we can all learn when we have a decision to make.

    Recently a problem I had at home illustrated the Rashi principle. We had a blocked sink; I called the plumber and told him, “It’s an easy one: it will only take you a minute”.

    In the event it took half an hour because the plumber was not prepared to rush through the job without looking at it properly and taking whatever time it needed to solving the problem.

    This careful attitude is what Rashi recognised in Moses. Nothing could be rushed, even if it meant devoting a whole day to working things out from morning to night.

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