Posts Tagged ‘Vaychi’

The sea of Torah

Monday, December 28th, 2009

Vayehci - The sea of Torah

Art by Maggidah Shoshannah Brombacher, Ph.D.
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"And let them increase like fish in the midst of the earth." (Gen. 48.16)

This passage comes from the blessing Jacob gives to Joseph’s sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, on his deathbed. In it, he blesses them with “teeming” descendants – too many to count. And yet the metaphor – to teem like fish in the middle of the earth – seems oxymoronic! Listen to how the Sages turn this into a delightful image:

This was the blessing with which our father blessed us. Just as fish live in water, yet when a drop falls from above they catch it thirstily as though they had never tasted water in their lives; so are Israel brought up in the waters of the Torah, yet when they hear a new exposition in the Torah they receive it thirstily as though they had never heard a Torah teaching in their lives.

Midrash Rabbah – Genesis XCVII:3

How sweet that yearning is, in its fulfillment! That moment of a new flash of insight from the Torah – the sod (secret) sparking suddenly, casting a joyful light on our very being.

What is the formula to make such moments happen? We cannot make them happen, but we can make it more likely that they will. How? Engage in study, preferably with a partner, and with the guidance of a teacher if possible. Open yourself to the possibility of these encounters. Keep sweetness in your spirit. And then…