A Trifecta of Torah Tidbits

Torah Tidbit: A Single Word of Connection

@SusanQuinn asked me why the Torah uses a specific word to describe the passing of the Jewish people through the Red Sea: “passed through the sea into the wilderness” (Num 33:8). The word for “through” is transliterated as “b’soch,” and it would seem to be an odd choice.

But if we look at the way the text uses that word earlier in the Torah, we see it is first found on the second day of creation: “God said, “Let there be an expanse in the midst of (“b’soch”) the water, that it may separate water from water.” (Gen 1:6)

The connection between these two uses of the same word tells us a great many things. G-d separated the waters (heavens and oceans) to create the world; he separates the waters of the Red Sea to create the Jewish People. Life is created in the gap between those waters, both at the creation of the world and at the Exodus. In the first b’soch the gap is created vertically. In the Exodus b’soch the gap is created horizontally. It is a different creation, in a different dimension.

Torah Tidbit: Cleaving

And you, who cleave to the LORD your God, are all alive today. (Deut. 4:4)

The first time that Hebrew word for “cleave” is found in the Torah is

Hence a man … cleaves to his wife, so that they become one flesh. (Gen. 2:24)

Another of the hundreds of connections in the text between marriage and a relationship to G-d.

Torah Tidbit: Torah in a Nutshell

Or what great nation has laws and rules as tzadik as all this Teaching that I set before you this day? (Deut 4:8)

The first tzadik in the Torah refers to Noah. And the first thing we know about him is that when G-d spoke, he listened. Indeed, this becomes a necessary ingredient for every time tzadik is mentioned: the ability to listen, to see things from the perspective of another person.

We can see from this that the symbolic laws and judgments that form the laws of the Torah are designed to be a petri dish in which we learn to hear each other, to be sensitive and open to seeing things from the perspective of G-d and other people. The Laws are there to create the possibility of a relationship founded in growth and development. This is what the Torah – the guidebook for our lives – is all about.

Comments are welcome!