SALT - Monday, 3 Tishrei 5781 - September 21, 2020

  • Rav David Silverberg
            In his introduction to the poem of Ha’azinu, Moshe proclaims, “Ya’arof ka-matar likchi” – “May my teaching pour down like rain” (32:2).  The simple meaning of this analogy is that Moshe hopes that his words spoken in this poem will be effective in producing the desired result.  Just as rain is absorbed by the ground and then produces vegetation, Moshe calls upon the people to ensure to absorb his teachings in their minds and hearts so it will have the desired result of leading them to remain firm in their commitment to God.
            Rav Shmuel Borenstein of Sochatchov, in Sheim Mi-Shmuel, offers an additional insight into this comparison between Torah and rain.  The Torah in Parashat Bereishit (2:5) tells that when God first created the earth, no vegetation existed, “because the Lord God had not brought rain upon the earth, and there was no person to work the land.”  Rashi, based on the Gemara (Chulin 60b), explained this to mean that God did not bring rain because there were as yet no human beings working the land who understood the dire necessity of rain and would thus pray for it.  God brought rain only once there were human beings on earth who prayed for rain.  He created the world in such a way that people would need to rely on His grace and assistance for their livelihood, and thus turn to Him in prayer.  And it is in this sense, the Sheim Mi-Shmuel suggests, that Moshe here compares Torah teaching to rain.  Just as God expects us to pray for rainfall, for our physical sustenance, before He provides it, similarly, He expects us to pray for Torah knowledge and understanding.  Moshe speaks of Torah with the term “likchi,” a derivative of the word “lekach,” which denotes a possession, a valuable asset which one owns.  Torah wisdom can truly be a “mekach,” a treasured possession, but only if we long for it, if we yearn to acquire it, and we beseech the Almighty to enable us to obtain this precious commodity.
            Generally, we tend to strive and yearn only for “rain” – for material blessings, without also longing to achieve spiritual blessings.  The possessions we desire are physical objects, not “likchi” – Torah teachings.  The Sheim Mi-Shmuel challenges us to make spiritual success no lower a priority than financial success.  We ought to be yearning and praying for achievement in Torah learning and observance, no less than we yearn and pray for material comforts.  Rather than focus our attention and energy exclusively on the pursuit of money, we must strive also for spiritual excellence, to “acquire” the precious gift of Torah knowledge and of genuine, devoted service of God.