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Two Minutes of Torah: Haazinu - Nourishing our selves

While I am obviously sad that summer has come to an end; I am very happy that moving forward I will hopefully not need to be setting up the sprinklers as often to water the garden. This summer in New York, with such little rainfall, it has been a necessity to ensure that the garden remains watered. When we've gone away, for even just a week, we've come back to see that the grass has already started dying in areas, and it's been a reminder of just how important the rain is. And that's our experience here, I can't even imagine what it's like in California where the people there are still experiencing a drought.

For our ancestors living in Israel and wandering around the wilderness, rain was a necessity for their very survival and it is hardly surprising that when God makes promises to the people to bless them rain is at the forefront of this. 

This week as Moses gives the concluding poem to his farewell speech in Haazinu we get the image of rain coming again.  The poem begins: "Give ear O heavens, and let me speak; let the earth hear the words of my mouth."  And then in the second verse: "May my discourse come down as the rain, my speech shall distill as the dew, like showers on young growth, like droplets on the grass."

As Moses begins this address to the Israelites the imagery that he uses for his words is that of water speaking of rain, dew, showers, and droplets.  Four times Moses emphasizes the water connection to the words that he is giving.

When we think about water we know that it is necessary for survival, and we know that water is the very thing that nourishes us and our planet; recognizing that without it we would all ultimately die.  We may therefore consider that the message Moses is trying to give is to say that it is the same with Torah.  We need our Torah, our traditions, our Judaism in the same way that we need rain, dew, showers, and droplets; they are our nourishing force as a Jewish community.  

Moses recognized that he would no longer to able to nourish the people moving forward and so as he concludes the Five Books of Torah he gives, in this final poem, the hope that they will be nourished by his words and that this nourishment will provide for them in the droughts that may follow, when the Words may seem that much more distant when he will not be there to lead them directly and today for us.  Reading our stories we find the nourishment that we need, taking our traditions and our Torah forward into the modern world.

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