Sharing Torah Insights

Nitzavim/VaYalech- Have it Your Way

Posted on כ״ד באלול ה׳תש״ע (September 3, 2010) | in Nitzavim, Va'Yelech | by

“You stand today, all of you, before the LORD your God: your chiefs, your tribes, your elders and your officers, even all the men of Israel, 11your little ones, your wives, and the alien who is within your camps, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water.

Why does the Torah decide to tell us that everyone was there “from the wood chopper to the drawer of water”? Why are these specific professions mentioned?

[There is a simple meaning of the verse which Rashi quotes .]

Midrashically, the Shemen HaTov says that these two jobs symbolize two legitimate but distinct ways to serve God. Some people are wood choppers who prepare fuel for a fire. Fire and heat rise, which symbloize the Jews who serve God with ambition, leadership, and a vision for greatness. These are the leaders in our community who go out and teach Torah to the masses and bring Jews back to their religion.

Others are water-drawers. Water, as we know, flows downward. (There is a actually gemara that compares Torah to water which uses this same concept.) Those who draw water, then, refer to those who serve God by lowering themselves and their personal stature. These are the people that exemplify humility and grace, people who are always working for God, ‘behind the scenes’. These are the “simple” Jews that keep the world afloat with their constancy in Torah observance.

The verse is telling us that everyone with their unique talents and ideological makeup (at that time) stood before God together. The ‘Officers’ of the major Torah institutions and the ‘newcomer’ to Orthodoxy stand shoulder to shoulder, with no actual heirarchy, working full-time to improve the world around us and to bring Godliness back to the world.

Wishing everyone a year of health and happiness tailored to their specific needs, Yaakov

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