Raindrops

Ha’azinu

Shiras Ha’azinu, is the song that will never be forgotten from the Jewish people. Fundamental and encompassing, it describes the destiny of the Jewish nation. On an individual level, the Kabbalists teach us that the name of every single person is hinted to in Ha’azinu, and every event is likewise alluded to in this song (See story below).

Question

Here is an excerpt from Moshe Rabbeinu’s introduction:

“My teachings will drip like rain, my word will flow like dew, like storm winds on vegetation and like raindrops on grass.”

Moshe starts by saying that his teachings will drip like rain, this denotes showering the people with abundant wisdom, but Moshe concludes by saying that they will be like raindrops on grass, connoting a mere smattering of knowledge. These two statements seem somewhat contradictory. 

Answer

Ha’azinu on a surface level is complex; in addition many secrets lie hidden in its profound words. The multifaceted deeper layers must compound the intricacy of this song. Moshe shared all this knowledge with the people, his teachings were “dripping like rain”, from his perspective his words were “flowing like dew”. This then is the first half of the verse.

There are two possible ways how his words will be received – to us ‘earthlings’ the recipients of his precipitation: One, “like storm winds on vegetation” – the Talmud tells us (Taanis 3b) that the wind that comes after the rain is as beneficial to growing plants as rain itself, thus we can develop and expound Moshe’s teachings, thereby maximizing their meaning in the same way the post wind maximizes the benefit of the rain. Two, “like raindrops on grass” we may only catch a few snippets of his message, like the appearance of grass after rain which grasps and retains a small number of raindrops. Either way we connect to this immortal message.

Lesson

Ha’azinu on an elementary level it is difficult to comprehend, yet even a little bit of the message is worthwhile and Divinely desired.

Story

Rabbi Moses ben Nacḥman Girondi, Bonastruc ça (de) Porta (1194 – 1270) known by his acronym Ramban, was a leading medieval Jewish scholar, philosopher, physician, Kabbalist, and biblical commentator. He was raised, studied, and lived for most of his life in Girona.

One of the Ramban’s, students was a scholar named Avner. Unfortunately, Avner became an apostate, and subsequently in his new secular world he rose to a position of enormous power. One Yom Kippur he sent for the Ramban – his former rabbi – to come to him. When the Ramban arrived, Avner slaughtered a pig right in front of the Ramban, chopped, cooked and the proceeded to eat it. He then asked Ramban how many prohibitions did he transgress that would incur spiritual excision. “Four”, the Ramban responded. Avner, wanting to enter into a debate, said “Five.” Ramban glared at him angrily, indicating to Avner that he wasn’t willing to debate the issue. Avner still retained enough respect for his former mentor not to argue any further. 

“What caused you to abandon the way of the Torah?” asked the Ramban. Avner told him that he had once heard Ramban say that according to the mystical tradition, every Mitzvah, every person who has ever lived and every event that has, or will, occur is hinted to in Parshas Ha’azinu. He simply couldn’t accept such a thing, how could such a small Parsha contain so much information, this led him to reject everything else. Ramban said that he still maintained this to be true, and even offered Avner to find him anything within the Parsha. Avner took the bait and questioned as to where is the allusion to his own name.

The Ramban went into a corner of the room, meditated for a while, came back and told him the Posuk “אמרתי אפאיהם אשביתה מאנוש זכרם” – “I had said ‘I will scatter them, I will cause their memory to cease from man”. The third letter of each word starting with אפאיהם spells out Avner. Avner was astounded, he realized his teacher had been correct all along. He then asked the Ramban how he could repent for his many sins. The Ramban responded that your repentance lies in the verse which your name Avner is encoded “I will cause their memory to cease from man”. Avner understood the message. He got into a boat, headed out to sea alone and disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again.

Weekly Halachah 

One may construct a Succah on Erev Shabbos until Chatzos. (Mishna Berurah 625:2)

2 Comments

  1. You are doing an excellent job in harbotzas torah on the internet. I know that one Rav in Beit Shemesh included Table Torah as a mareh makom in his Chumash shiur.
    Another example of the spiritual ‘equilibrium’ that exists in the world. Avner had to be on a very high spiritual plane to be able to fall to such depths, as was Acher. Nevertheless Avner’s core ruchnius was profound and continued to have the ability to receive all sorts of spiritual and/or pseudo-spiritual input. This resulted in his being able to accept the Ramban’s message and ultimately let to a very high level of T’shuva

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