The very first conversion to Judaism takes place in this week’s parshah. The Torah relates that Yitro (Jethro), the father-in-law of Moses, traveled from Midyan to join the Jewish people. The Talmud explains that there were two events that prompted him to convert. The first catalyst was hearing of the miraculous splitting of the Yam Suf, the Red Sea. The second was hearing about the war with the nation of Amalek that took place at the end of last week’s parshah.
It is understandable that the account of the escape of the Jews from the pursuing Egyptians through the splitting of the Red Sea would aid in one’s decision to join the Jewish people. Why, however, would hearing about the war with Amalek convince Yitro that he should convert to Judaism? If the Talmud would identify the miraculous Jewish victory over Amalek that occurred at that time as the impetus, it would be understandable; however, the Talmud states clearly that it was the war itself, not the victory, which was the second catalyst. Continue reading Parshat Yitro – Catalyst for Conversion