Come and drink

In the opening passage of Haazinu, Moses compares his words with the different natural events, all somehow connected with water. He speaks about rain and dew, showers and droplets.

The Sages have remembered this passage, analyzing the verse from prophet Habakuk, “And makes people like the fish of the sea, as the creeping things, that have no ruler over them” (1:14). In tractate Avodah Zarah 3b:16 Rav Yehuda quotes Shmuel, saying, “Why are people compared to the fish of the sea? This says: Just as when fish of the sea, arise on to dry land they die immediately; when people separate themselves from studying words of Torah and performing the mitzvot, they die immediately”.

The rabbis go further in their comparison while discussing the ordinances of Ezra in regard to the public reading of the Torah on Monday and Thursday. According to them, such order was established long before Ezra, since in the wilderness of Shur (Exodus 15;22) the children of Israel “went for three days in the wilderness and found no water”. The metaphorical interpretation of this verse states that the water they were searching for was nothing else but Torah.

Sforno, in his sublimely beautiful commentary, gives us the explanation of the types of Torah, or wisdom, that are mentioned in these words. Some of the wisdom is strong and nourishing, like rain, some are full of promise, like showers, some is short-living like dew, and some are so tiny, that Sforno writes, “Even though these scraps of information are sparse, they are as useful to the recipients as is dew for the grass”.

Even the tiniest drop of the Torah can revive the soul and nourish the human psyche so that we are prepared for further challenges on our way.

About the Author
Nelly Shulman is a journalist and writer currently based in Berlin. She is an author of four popular historical novels in the Russian language. She is working on the fifth novel in this series and on her first English-language novel, a historical thriller set during the Siege of Leningrad. She a Hawthornden Fellow and an alumna of the Nachum Goldmann Fellowship.
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