Heaven and Earth; Rain and Dew

The Torah is like water which begins in a high place and descends to a low place.

“Let my teaching drop as the rain” (Deuteronomy 32:2). Rain falls from heaven to earth, in a sense, connecting heaven and earth. (Image © Bigstock)


Regular Shabbat Readings

Read / Listen to these Portions

  • Ha'azinu (האזינו | Listen)
  • Torah: Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52
  • Haftarah: 2 Samuel 22:1-51
  • Gospel: John 6:26-35

Note: The regular readings are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. Refer to the annual Torah Portion schedule for these special portions.

Portion Outline

  • Torah
    • Deuteronomy 31:30 | The Song of Moses
    • Deuteronomy 32:48 | Moses' Death Foretold
  • Prophets
    • 2 Samuel 22:1 | David's Song of Thanksgiving

Portion Summary

The word Ha'azinu (האזינו) literally means "give ear," an expression meaning "Listen to this." It is also the name of the fifty-third and second-to-last reading from the Torah. It is the first word of the Song of Moses, which begins with the words "Give ear (Ha'azinu), O heavens, and let me speak" (Deuteronomy 32:1). This Torah portion is only a single chapter long, and the majority of it consists of the Song of Moses. The Song of Moses is a prophetic oracle warning Israel about apostasy to come and the resulting wrath of God. The song looks far into the future, even envisioning the Messianic advent amid rich and frightening apocalyptic imagery. After the conclusion of the song, Moses is told to ascend Mount Nebo and overlook the Promised Land before dying.

Moses began his song by calling upon the heavens and the earth as witnesses to his teaching: “Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak; and let the earth hear the words of my mouth” (Deuteronomy 32:1).

His oracle takes utterance first in heaven, and only after being spoken in heaven, does it turn to address the earth. He follows that progression, from heaven to earth, when he says, “Let my teaching drop as the rain” (Deuteronomy 32:2). Rain falls from heaven to earth, in a sense, connecting heaven and earth. The rabbis compare the Torah to rain falling from heaven to earth:

Rab Yehudah said, “The day when rain falls is as great as the day when the Torah was given, as it is said [in Deuteronomy 32:2], ‘Let my teaching drop as the rain.’ When Moses said “teaching,” he meant Torah, as it is said of the Torah [in Proverbs 4:2] ‘For I give you sound teaching; do not abandon my Torah.’” (b.Ta’anit 7a)

The sages compared Torah to water, for just as water descends from a higher to a lower level, so too, the Torah descended from its place of glory to the realm of men:

Rabbi Chanina ben Ida said, “Why are the words of the Torah likened unto water [in Isaiah 55:1], ‘Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters.’? This is to teach you that just as water flows from a higher place to a lower place, so too the words of the Torah descend from a high place to a low place.” (b.Ta’anit 7a)

Water exists in the heavens as vapor in the form of the clouds, but it is still, in its basic essence, water. As it descends in the form of rain, it is still water. When it arrives on the earth as falling rain and it pools in rivers and streams, it is still water. Water is the same in heaven and on earth, though it appears in different forms. Whether in the form of clouds in heaven or pooling up in streams and rivers on earth, at every stage of its descent, water remains water. So too, with Torah in its descent from the heavens. In the heavens it is Torah, and here on earth it is Torah. Its essence remains Torah.

The Torah of Moses (and all of the Bible, for that matter) has descended to us in a form we can understand and comprehend. The ineffable Word of God has taken on the garments of human language so that we might hear and understand. It has come in the form of laws and commandments so that we might speak it and do the Word of God. When we observe it, we allow God’s Word to clothe itself in the garments of human flesh. We incarnate the Word of God on earth. That which began in the heaven as the unsearchable and unknowable Word of God has descended like rain to the level of the earth. Rain waters the grass, and living things soak it up and incorporate it into their being. Heaven and earth unite by this connection.

This common analogy for Torah helps explain Messiah. The Word (Logos) descended to the earth and took on the garments of human flesh as a real human being—Yeshua of Nazareth—and formed a connection between heaven and earth. Yeshua spoke the words of His Father and kept His commandments. He clothed them in the garments of His body. He is the Word made flesh, the Living Torah. He is the living Word of God united with the substance of earth, but His essence remained the same on earth as it was in heaven.

Adapted From: Torah Club Commentary Set: Depths of the Torah. Learn more about Torah Club and how you can start a Club of your own, or join a Torah Club in your area. Visit TORAHCLUB.ORG

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