Just recently, as I was drinking from a water bottle, I was surprised as I felt the water enter my system. I didn’t think I was thirsty when I started to drink because I generally drink water throughout the day. Within moments I realized, based on how refreshed I felt, that I needed the hydration, and had been a lot thirstier than I had originally thought.
The Torah refers to the purifying water used in the redemptive process of the metzora as mayim chayim. It is pointed out that this term appears with more frequency concerning the metzora than with any other purification process found elsewhere in the Torah. The Sichot Tzadikim explains that the metzora finds himself in a very low state emotionally. His self esteem is deflated and we are concerned that this individual is headed in the direction of debilitating sadness and depression. It is for this reason that the Torah uses the language of “mayim chayim,” meaning the “water of life.” This way, the individual who is struggling will identify with the water used to purify him as containing life within it, linked to the Torah which is compared to water.
As such, when we find ourselves in a difficult emotional challenge, we are encouraged to turn to Torah as a means of reawakening the life within us. This can mean learning on the simplest or most intense level. The Jewish heart has a thirst for Torah as the human body has the thirst for water. It is common for us to search in different places for solutions to the emotional or spiritual challenges that we tend to face throughout our lives. This is especially true if we find ourselves in a malaise, and sense that we are falling. When we need something to stimulate us, to lift us, to give a sense of meaning that can help us turn the emotional corner, Torah can be our answer.
We are blessed to live in a generation where access to Torah is available to virtually everyone at all times. Torah is a viable option that can really lift our spirits at a time of emotional need. Listening to a dvar Torah online, reading a Torah-based email, attending a class or learning with a friend are all options that we can avail ourselves of on a regular basis. The topics before us are limitless. As an example, the YU Torah website lists more than 100,000 shiurim on a multitude of subjects.
The Navi speaks of a time where there will be a great famine and thirst in the world, but it will not be for food or water, rather to hear the word of Hashem. It is an honor and privilege to live at a time in Jewish history when the opportunity to learn Torah is almost as easy as finding water to drink. All we need to do is realize just how thirsty we may really be.
By Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler
Eliezer Zwickler is senior rabbi of Congregation AABJ&D in West Orange, NJ. Rabbi Zwickler is also a psychotherapist-LCSW in private practice focusing on couples therapy. Listen to Rabbi Zwickler’s webdvar on the Nachum Segal Network at 9pm each Motzei Shabbat, or on his YouTube channel (ezwickler). Rabbi Zwickler can be reached at [email protected].