This week’s Torah portion emerges from the power of the 10 Days of Awe, the High Holy Days. Talk about timing! This is another one chapter portion that sees Moses’s final instructions as he prepares to die. Indeed, the portion ends with him being called to Mount Nebo as his end nears.
As usual, there is much to unpack here, but I wanted to focus on the opening words of the portion as I think they reflect what we have come through as Yom Kippur ends. This season is a season of preparation. In 32:2, 3 we read: “May my discourse come down as the rain, my speech distill as the dew, like showers on young growth, like droplets on dew”
What this can mean? I think it has great meaning for our age cohort. We learn through life experience the power of words and how and what and when to say things. The image of rain, of dew and showers speaks to the understanding that words can nourish an idea, but, if they are too strong—like a storm—they can do damage.
It is as if we are being told that our souls, like the earth, need to be prepared to receive truth. That is done gradually, like a gentle rain on the earth prepares the earth to flourish. So too, our souls. That is what these Holidays may really be about; the words, the music, the “theatre” of the season may be a way to prepare our souls for its own growth and spiritual maturity. Our souls needs nourishment and it is the gradual “feeding” of our souls with words of Torah, mitzvoth, human connection and contemplation that brings growth and life to us. It is a life long process; a gradual flowering of love and life nourished by the steady and measured “rain” of the sacred in our life.
Rabbi Richard F Address
Rabbi Richard F. Address, D.Min, is the Founder and Director of www.jewishsacredaging.com. Rabbi Address served for over three decades on staff of the Union for Reform Judaism; first as a Regional Director and then, beginning in 1997, as Founder and Director of the URJ’s Department of Jewish Family Concerns and served as a specialist and consultant for the North American Reform Movement in the areas of family related programming. Rabbi Address was ordained from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1972 and began his rabbinic career in Los Angeles congregations. He also served as a part time rabbi for Beth Hillel in Carmel, NJ while regional director and, after his URJ tenure, served as senior rabbi of Congregation M’kor Shalom in Cherry Hill, NJ from 2011-2014.