Ha’azinu 5762

Tora - Torah

Parshat Ha’azinu 12 Tishrei, 5762 September 29, 2001

Something Old:
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Something New:

“May my teaching drop like the rain, may my utterance flow like the dew.” Many teachers are curious about the words used here to describe Moshe’s teaching. Explaining the teaching of Rabbi Solomon Zalman Ulman, Kushner and Olitzky (in Sparks Beneath the Surface) write: Just as plants need different rains to nurture their growth, people need different words as well. There are times when gentle speech is required and there are times when words of rebuke are needed. Know well then kinds of words needed and speak them well, warns our teacher. All words when properly delivered are of the living God.

All of this got me thinking about the power of words: the vast array of words in the Machzor on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur and the intense focus of our use of proper speech that we see in the many Al Chet’s on Yom Kippur.

I love one particular quote by Chuang Tze and I’ve written about it before. But today, you’ll get the rest of the story.

The fish trap exists to catch the fish. When you have the fish, you no longer need the trap.

The bird snare exists to catch the bird. When you have caught the bird, you no longer need the snare.

Words exist to get the meaning. When you have the meaning, you no longer need the words.

Where can I find a man who has forgotten all the words…. So I can have a word with him.

The P’shat, the simple meaning is clear. The writer hopes to find a teacher who knows the essence of the derech, of the “way”, to live. He seeks someone who has gotten past the very poor tools of words and is connected, wordlessly, to the source of truth. He hopes that in some way this teacher can communicate the essence of reality without the burden, without the veils, of words.

And now, the rest of the story.

As I sat in meditation last week preparing to blow the shofar in my shul, I wondered, “If I were to meet such a person, what would I ask him? What, in fact, would be the essence of the conversation between us as I shared a “word” with him?”

I decided that I would ask him two questions. First, I would ask him how to blow a shofar. Did he have a greater grasp of the truth behind the most powerful wordless prayer of the Jewish people, of the sounding of the shofar? Did he possess some deeper secret about the shofar blasts that reach the heavens and carry us along with it?

And second, I would ask him an even more inclusive question: I would ask him how to pray.

As we approach Yom Kippur with it’s Machzor of so many words, what is the essence of prayer to him, to someone who has the meaning of them all and so has gone higher, to a place beyond the words.

The answer I got was “Ha’azinu”.

Listen deeply… hear the truth of the rain and the dew. Understand that speech can be yin or yang. Understand what that means in terms of your daily speech and your daily prayer.

That is how to blow the shofar. That is how to pray. Master silence. And, only then, speak!

"Tora-Torah" is a weekly column on Parshat Hashavua with insights into the inner aspects of the Jewish martial arts as founded and taught by Grand Master H. I. Sober in the International Tora Dojo Martial Arts Association. The copyrighted 'Tora tiger' logo is used with permission of Prof. H. I. Sober.

"Tora-Torah" is written or edited by Michael Andron, PhD. Lao Shih, a Seventh Degree Black Belt in the Tora Dojo Association. He has been teaching Grand Master Sober's system for over 30 years.

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