By designating Yitro to be the father-in-law of the most holy Jew of all times, God made it clear that He would not tolerate racism and that a righteous gentile could climb up to the highest ranks of saintliness.
Yitro confronts us for the first time with a new phenomenon: to be a Jew by choice. By doing so, he presents all Jews with a major challenge: how to become a Jew by choice even when one has been born into the fold; how to feel the fire needed to live the life of an authentic Jew, as Yitro did. Such an undertaking is possible only if one is able to re-enact and experience Yitro’s journey to Judaism.
After Moshe left Egypt with a multitude of people, his father-in-law, Yitro, criticized him for the way he was arbitrating disputes among the Israelites, and suggested that Moshe reform the existing legal system. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch poses a very simple question: Could Moshe not have determined this himself?