And Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses' father-in-law, heard of all that Elokim had done for Moses and for Israel His people. (Ex. 18:1)

[To explain this verse Rabbi Elazar quoted:] "Therefore I will give thanks to you, G‑d, among the nations, and sing praises to your name." (Psalms 18:50) King David said this with Divine Inspiration at the time when he saw that the honor of G‑d wasn't as it could be and didn't receive due respect in this world, except through those [converts from among] the rest of the nations. The souls of Israel are the base of the flame that shines light…

Now if you say that that the Holy One Blessed be He is only honored in this world for the sake of Israel, this would certainly be correct. This is because [the souls of] Israel are the base of the flame that shines light.

The souls of Israel are the base of flame that enlightens the sefira of malchut. Through their positive actions they increase the spiritual light that shines in this world.

But when the other peoples of the world come and give thanks and bind themselves to the glory of the Holy One Blessed be He, then the base of the flame is added too and strengthened. It shines over all His works in one light [with Israel] and the Holy One blessed be He reigns supreme above and below. It was in this manner that fear and awe from the Holy One Blessed be He fell on them [when they heard what He had caused in Egypt and at the crossing of the Reed Sea]. When Jethro, who was the high priest of all other gods, came to convert, then the glory of the Holy One Blessed be He was strengthened and ruled over all. This was because all the world had been shaken when they heard of the mighty acts of the Holy One Blessed be He, and they all looked to Jethro who was a wise man and a high appointee over all forms of pagan worship in the world. When they saw that he came [to Moses] and converted to worship the Holy One blessed be He and stated: "Now I know that G‑d is greater than all gods" (Ex.18:11), they all distanced themselves from the worship of their deities and knew that they had no substance. The glory of the holy name…was magnified in all directions…

Then the glory of the holy name of the Holy One blessed be He was magnified in all directions. And this is the reason that a weekly reading of the Torah is called by his name [Jethro] and begins with him.

Jethro was one of the three advisers of Pharaoh. One adviser was Jethro, one Job, and one Balaam. The first was Jethro because there was no form of worship, and pagan deity or servant or functionary or star that [was purported] to rule over any fiefdom, that he didn't know how to worship. He knew the appropriate form of worship and how to serve each. Balaam was a sorcerer and he knew all kinds of witchcraft, whether by magic deeds or spells.

Job was a master of awe, and this awe was the essence of his worship. This [awe is valued] because a person is not able to draw down a spirit from above, whether in the realm of the holy or the Other Side, and can't get close to it, unless the worship is in awe. The heart and will have to be directed in awe and then, with a broken heart, the higher spirit can be drawn down and the desired effect achieved. This is the secret in reconnecting to one's spiritual roots…

Here we are taught a general rule in the spiritual world. If one doesn't approach worship with awe, he will get no inner response. This explains why many people can't relate to organized religion. They don't know how to focus themselves to pick up what it is about. Only once this is grasped can one proceed onward to an appreciation of what it is about. This is the secret in reconnecting to one's spiritual roots and grasping the reality of the Divine. For example, Abraham achieved this level by meditating on the awesome power of G‑d as creator and sustainer of the universe.

A person cannot cleave to that spiritual side unless he places his heart and will in awe to it. [In failing to do so] he only receives a small fine grasp of all kinds of forces that are external to the holy. This is because there are those spiritual rulers that require heartfelt desire and awe. Even more so is this [mental state required] in respect of higher, holy spiritual states. This requires even greater fear and awe and will.

Zohar, Parashat Yitro, pg. 69a; translation and commentary by Simcha-Shmuel Treister

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