In this week’s parasha Moshe addresses Bnei Israel and invites them to listen closely as he poetically recounts the future of the People of Israel until the end of days. He begins, quite poetically, in song: “My lesson will drip like rain; my word will flow like dew; like storm winds on vegetation/herb and like raindrops on grass.” (Devarim 32:2).
Moshe is comparing the Torah to water. Just as water permeates the soil to offer a proper environment for growth, so to the Torah permeates our soul to provide opportunity for spiritual growth. The Midrash goes even further, saying that the Torah is compared to rain because it has the ability to make each of us grow into what we could become. It has the ability to help each of us reach our own potential.
Rashi comments on the comparison to both rain and dew. While both provide moisture, rain can, at times, be an inconvenience. Although we know that it can benefit the crops and provide long-term sustenance, the rain itself can interfere with a person’s plans for the day. Dew, on the other hand, does not have the long-term benefits of rain, but is more appreciated. Rashi compares this to dual nature of the Torah, which combines the benefits of both rain and dew. While the Torah can sustain life and offers rewards in Olam Habbah, it can also enhance our lives in Olam Hazeh by showing us the proper way to live and interact with others.
A few pessukim later, Bnei Israel are told to “Remember the days of old, consider the years of each generation” (Devarim 32:7). We are commanded to recall the Exodus and the receiving of the Torah in every generation, and we have a duty to see Hashem’s work in this history. Our sages have pondered the repetitive language used in thiS verse. Menachem Tzion suggests that the word for “years”- “shenot” shares it’s root with the word for “change”. Thus, we are being asked to also consider the changes in each generation. Rabbi Frand expands on this idea to say that though the Torah never changes, “it has a built-in flexibility to allow it to adapt perfectly to all times and places”.
The study of Torah, unlike any other discipline, has the power to permeate our very souls. It is a study that evokes emotion. Through reading the narratives of the players, their plights, their triumphs, their failures and successes, we connect with them on an emotional level. When we learn Talmud, we are right there in the Beit Midrash with the rebbeim and the students, reliving the arguments and discussions (Harav Bloch).
In his final addresses, Moshe teaches Bnei Israel a song, to reach the people’s hearts, where their emotions and their passions lie. A song to be sung by all the generations to follow. Moshe understood full well that it is feeling and emotion that moves us to action. As Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks put it so eloquently: “If you want to change lives, speak to people’s feelings, not just to their minds”.
Torah is like water that nourishes our souls, it has the power to change lives, and gives each and every one of us the power to reach our full potential and become the people we were meant to be.
Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach,
Dr. Laura Segall
Head of School