Shemot: Chapter 54

"Now Moses kept the flock"


Rabbi Chiya begins the discourse on the title verse by explaining that as a worthy shepherd guides his flock to good pastures and treats them tenderly, God guides His children on the straight and righteous path. We learn that God saw that Moses was a wise and considerate shepherd over Jethro's flock and He knew that Moses would lead Yisrael with these same qualities. Therefore, God made him king over all of Yisrael. Rabbi Yehuda then expounds upon the qualities and benefits of a good leader of Yisrael.

Rabbi Yosi follows this discussion with a discourse on Moses' journey to Mount Sinai. We learn that both Moses and the mountain were prepared for each other from the time of Creation. As soon as Moses saw it, he knew it was the mountain of God and he was drawn to it. He saw birds flying from the mountain and falling at his feet, and, interpreting this sign, he led Yisrael "far away into the desert," and ascended the Mountain alone. From this, there follows a discussion of the fiery flame in which God appeared to Moses. We learn that this flame represents Judgment, since the flame appeared at the time of Minchah. In their discussion, the Rabbis also explain that because the evening is a time of Judgment and the morning is a time of Mercy, it is proper to eat bread in the morning and meat at night.


Pain, hurt, suffering, and turmoil occur in our lives when we veer off the path of spiritual growth. The afflictions of life are signs and guideposts that attempt to set us back on course. However, our ego attempts to explain away these misfortunes as random chaos. If we pay heed to our ego, then the pain becomes even greater.

This passage proactively awakens all humanity to the truth of our existence - to the value and priceless benefits of positive behavior, of deeds of kindness, and of unconditional love for friends and foes. In turn, the pain of life vanishes.

Finally, the spiritual energy of the cosmic morning, which is mercy, blankets the world with a glorious radiance. Judgments are overturned. Darkness is banished from the world. Goodness and Light reign supreme as we achieve our ultimate destiny - infinite fulfillment through our unification with the Light of the Creator.