"Moses went out to greet his father-in-law, and he prostrated himself and kissed him…." (Ex. 18:7)

Moses embodied divine wisdom, whereas Jethro embodied natural, worldly wisdom. By bowing down to Jethro, Moses elevated natural wisdom and accepted it into the sphere of divine wisdom. This was a prerequisite to the Giving of Torah.

"Now I know that G‑d is greater than all the deities…" (ibid. 18:11)

Jethro had researched the workings of Creation from top to bottom and possessed expert knowledge of all the spiritual and scientific lore of his age. By declaring that all this knowledge led ultimately to the acceptance of G‑d's wisdom, Jethro paved the way for the Giving of the Torah.

G‑d's essence transcends both the infinite and the finite….

Besides doing away with the delusion that Creation is a jumble of disparate and opposing forces vying for our loyalty on the one hand and attempting to control us on the other, Jethro's declaration enabled the Giving of the Torah in a much more profound way. The purpose of the revelation at Mount Sinai was not simply to inform the world of G‑d's will; to a great extent, this had already happened: ever since the Creation there was always a circle of individuals who studied the Torah. Rather, the revelation at Mount Sinai was meant to make G‑d's essence accessible to the world via the Torah.

G‑d's essence transcends both the infinite and the finite, meaning that it can be infinite and finite at the same time. Jethro showed that following secular knowledge to its end results ultimately in obscurantism, distortion, disinformation - in idolatry. By declaring that all the world's wisdom - even what we normally consider finite and "secular" - is darkness unless it is seen as part of G‑d's wisdom, Jethro revealed the essential transcendence of the Torah. He showed how the Torah, as a window to G‑d's essence, encompasses all reality and is the means through which all reality can be absorbed into G‑dliness and can be made to express G‑dliness. And this is how G‑d Himself can be brought into all aspects of life, making the world into His true home.

[Adapted by Moshe-Yaakov Wisnefsky from Ma'amarei Admor HaZaken. Parshiot, vol.1, p.300; Sefer HaMa'amarim 5647, p. 72ff; BeSha'ah SheHikdimu 5672, vol. 2, pp. 861-862; Sefer HaMa'amarim Melukat, vol. 3, pp. 58 ff.]