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Bamidbar-the Torah was given at Har Sinai with three elements — aish (fire), mayim (water) and midbar (desert)

The Midrash Tanchuma wonders why Hashem chose the wilderness as the place for giving of Torah and teaches us that the Torah was given at Har Sinai with three elements — aish (fire), mayim (water) and midbar (desert). These three natural phenomena each played a prominent role in the transmission of the Torah to the Jewish People, to teach us that just as these three elements are available and accessible to everyone, so too is the Torah free and accessible to anyone who seeks it. . These three elements also allude to the three requisites of Torah study without which it is virtually impossible to realise real success in one’s learning. Fire, which is all consuming, represents the drive, desire that one must possess and inspiration that one must bring to studying Torah. All of one’s senses must be infused with enthusiasm and dedicated to its achievement. Water symbolizes modesty. Just as water behaves modestly, because it always flows constantly downward, we, too, must be willing to learn from anyone and everyone. We cannot remain smug and complacent. Water is very flexible and can easily adapt itself to anything. If its course is blocked by a rock, it will choose another route and continue flowing down towards its destination. So too we must make every effort and avoid all obstacles to study Torah, which like water, is the source of Life. The midbar, symbolizes something which no-one owns. The experience of the desert is an experience of dependency One cannot harbor illusions of self-sufficiency. The desert continually made one aware of one’s utter dependence on G-d alone. Whether it be salvation from heat, from cold, from thirst, from falling, one’s human assurances are often out of reach and one must rely on God alone. This teaches that in order to acquire the Torah, we must reduce our reliance and dependency on material things.


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