Contributed by: R. Ezra Mizrahi
"So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. They greeted each other and then went into the tent. (Yitro 18:7)"
Moshe hears by way of messengers that Yitro has arrived at the encampment of Bnei Yisrael. Promptly the Torah tells us that Moshe went out to greet him. What are we to learn from this statement in the Torah? Why are we given what seems like unimportant information?
Rabeynou Ovadya Seforno explains the way of evil people is to garner benefit at their time of need from an individual, yet hold no regard for this individual later on. Even as they rise up to power, they do not remember those key individuals who helped them during their time of need.
We see the prime example in the Torah with Sar Hamashqim and Yosef. Once Sar Hamashqim was reappointed to serve Pharoah, he completely forgot how Yosef had helped him in prison.
However, righteous people are different. Those who helped them during their time of anguish are not forgotten. We see example with how Yosef dealt with his brothers, and how Esther dealt with Mordechai even after she had become queen.
Moshe Rabeynou rose to the highest heights a human being could achieve, speaking to Hashem from mouth to mouth, leading the an entire nation from slavery to self-government. Still, Moshe, with all his greatness, went out to greet Yitro and did not wait for Yitro to come to him.
One can argue that Yitro was Moshe's father-in-law and was therefore obligated to show common respect to him. However, we must understand that this lesson could have been learned anywhere, using any back drop, why specifically use Moshe and Yitro?
When Moshe went down to Egypt, he had sent his wife Siporah back to live with Yitro, effectively divorcing her. Even though technically Moshe's bond to Yitro was broken, still Moshe showed respect for Yitro.
This lesson is even applied to Rabbis who have achieved greatest, yet do not forget the common Jewish person. The prime example is our great leader Hacham Ovadya Yosef. Although he sits on top of the halachic world, he still gives classes to the average man, and works tirelessly to decipher halacha into simpler terms for the average man to understand and be able to incorporate into his life. In over sixty years of public service, Hacham Ovadya has never moved away from the average person.