Friday, September 25, 2015

Haazinu 5776, September 2015; Gentleness and Strength

Moshe directed Heaven and Earth to be his witnesses as they are permanent and unchanging in their essence. Yes, clouds can pass across the sky, earthquakes can even alter the landscape, but the real nature of Heaven and Earth remain just as a person's inner essence does not change no matter whether his mood is good or not, and whether or not he does teshuvah for his sins he himself is still that one person (though he can be as if reborn if he does teshuvah). In the times of the Torah, the heavens were seen as a male influence on the world, and the very earth the female essence of creation. Together, mediated by G-d, they create our entire natural experience.
The rain in its time and the dew in its time and we will have
crops, arbah minim, schach, and all we need. And the little
children grow with the influence of their parents and other
male and female adults in their lives.
Moreover, Moshe went on to state that his words would be "like a  torrential rain which uproots…and causes great harm. Tzror Hamor reminds us that storms help crops grow stronger. Rain itself likewise was considered essentially male; it could benefit but it could destroy subsistence falling at the wrong strength or the wrong time.  Mostly though it was life giving, just as is the Torah. Both are essential for the world, both come from Heaven, both cleanse and purify, both develop seeds (the Torah metaphorically developing the seeds of spirituality within one's heart) (Rashi).

Yet Moshe then went on to say, "My saying shall trickle like dew."  Dew seems almost to spring from the ground and is historically thought of as feminine, gentle. Dew is never a negative agriculturally for the crops of Eretz Yisroel. It never interferes, it is never dangerous to man. In the same way that everyone in Eretz Yisroel rejoiced uniformly at dew, so Torah is always a cause for rejoicing (Sifrei).
This photo doesn't begin to show how steep
the path truly was, somehow it shows it more
leveled out than in reality. It would have been
terribly dangerous to descend in heavy rain.

I was recently hiking and was on very steep trails. I feared the coming rain greatly, for there would have been no safe way to get down the path at all. It would have been a complete flood immediately if real rain began to fall. Such is the power of rain on our minds, to control our actions. But we must change our actions to follow the Torah, and sometimes a strong reminder is necessary. Keeping this metaphor fresh in our minds can help.

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