371. "Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian" (Shemot 3:1). Rabbi Chiya opened the discussion, saying: "A Psalm of David, Hashem is my shepherd; I shall not want" (Tehilim 23:1). "Hashem is my shepherd," means "the shepherd of mine." In the same way that a shepherd leads his sheep and brings them to a good pasture, to a fat pasture, to a place of a stream of water, he straightens their path with righteousness and Justice. Also of the Holy One, blessed be He, it is written, "He makes me to lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul" (Ibid. 2-3).
372. Rabbi Yosi said, The way of the shepherd is to lead his flock with righteousness, to distance them from stealing, to lead them on a plain, and at all times the rod is in his hand so that they do not turn off right or left. So does the Holy One, blessed be He, do. He herds Yisrael, leading them on a plain, with the rod constantly in His hand, so they will not turn right or left.
373. Another explanation of, "Now Moses kept the flock." Rabbi Yosi said, Know that as long as the shepherd is skillful in managing his sheep, he is ready to accept the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven. If the shepherd is a simpleton, it is said of him, "There is more hope of a fool than of him" (Mishlei 26:12).
374. Rabbi Yehuda said, Moses was wise and knowledgeable in leading his flock. Come and behold, we learn this from David, "And he is tending the sheep" (I Shmuel 16:11), which teaches us that he was very wise and tended his sheep properly and appropriately. The Holy One, blessed be He, therefore made him king over all of Yisrael. And why sheep and not cows? Because Yisrael are named sheep, as written, "But you My flock, the flock of My pasture, are men" (Yechezkel 34:31), and, "Like the flock of sacrifices, like the flock of Jerusalem" (Yechezkel 36:38).
375. As one attains life in the World to Come due to the sheep, when they are offered upon the altar, he who leads the children Yisrael properly attains life in the World to Come on account of them. Furthermore, he who herds the sheep takes the lambs to his bosom when the ewes give birth, so that they will not tire and be fatigued, and the shepherd carries the lambs after their mothers, and pities them. So should the leader of Yisrael lead them mercifully and without cruelty. And thus did Moses say, "That You should say to me, 'Carry them in your bosom'" (Bemidbar 11:12).
376. As a good shepherd saves the sheep from the wolves and lions, the leader of Yisrael, if he is good, saves them from the heathen and the Judgment of below and of above, and guides them into the life of the World to Come. Moses was such a Faithful shepherd, and the Holy One, blessed be He, saw that he was worthy of shepherding Yisrael, using the same principles that he used to tend to the sheep, the lambs according to their needs and to the females according to their needs.
377. It is therefore written, "Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law" (Shemot 3:1) and not his own. Rabbi Yosi said, As he gave Moses his daughter Tziporah to wife, did he not give him cows and sheep, for Jethro was rich? But Moses did not tend to his own sheep, lest one would say that since his flock was with him, he tended to them well. Therefore, it says, "The flock of Jethro his father-in-law" and not his own. "The priest of Midian:" Rabbi Tanchum said, Though he was an idolater, since he was kind by him, he tended to his flock properly, in a good, fatty and rich pasture.
378. "And he led the flock far away into the desert" (Ibid.). Rabbi Yosi said, Since the day that Moses was born, the Holy Spirit did not move away from him. He saw through the Holy Spirit that that desert was holy, and prepared to receive upon it the yoke of heavenly kingdom. What did he do? He led the flock to the desert. Rabbi Yitzchak said, "Far away (lit. 'after') the desert" and not in the desert, for he did not want them to come into it but led them away from the desert.
379. "And came to the mountain of the Elohim to Horeb" (Shemot 3:1). He alone CAME without the sheep. Rabbi Yitzchak said, There is a stone that draws and receives metal, and THE METAL jumps on it when it sees it. So with Moses and mount Sinai: when they appeared to each other he jumped on it. This is what is written, "And he came to the mountain of Elohim to Horeb."
380. Rabbi Aba said, They were designated from the six days of Creation, the one together with the other. On that day, the mountain quaked before Moses. When he saw him entering it and jumping upon it, the mountain quieted. This teaches us that they were happy with each other.