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Parshas Pinchas - The Cost & Benefit of Water  22 Tammuz 5781

07/02/2021 11:12:06 AM


Rarely do I write in real time, choosing instead to focus either about the past or about something current, but not literally as it is taking place.  As you are reading this message, our Shul has gone dry. No no, don’t get all nervous, there will still  be schnapps during kiddush. The schnapps will, bli neder, continue to drip. Over the last few weeks there has been a little river flowing at the entrance to the parking lot. Very few people have stopped to  look or inquire as to where is this water was coming from or why it was there at all. The water has been leaking from the main water valve to the Shul building. We thought it had been repaired a few days ago by simply tightening the valve. Apparently, that was not the root cause. This week another plumber came out and detected a leak in the line which requires extensive work resulting in a prolonged time with the water main shut off. Therefore, for those of you reading this who will be coming to Shul (or reading this in Shul), be prepared. There will be no water in the restrooms or sinks at Shul this Shabbos. Accommodations have been made to use the bathrooms in the adjacent apartment building.

Jewish thought and tradition teach us that water is life - Mayim Chayim. This is supported in a very physical sense. One may wonder how much water is on, in, and above the Earth. When all Earth's fresh water including all our planet’s lakes and rivers, we see the Earth as a watery place. In fact, about 71 percent of the Earth's surface is covered with water, and the oceans hold about 96.5 percent of all Earth's water. Water also exists in the air as water vapor,  in icecaps and glaciers, in the ground as soil moisture and in aquifers, and, not to be ignored… within all of us, our pets, our plants, all living things. Water never sits still. Our planet's water supply constantly moves from one place to another and from one form to another.

This water discussion must also address the fact that our bodies consist of about 60% water, varying from roughly 45% - 75%.  Interestingly, babies have a high percentage of water in their bodies, but this water content decreases with age. This may account for the need to drink more water as we age. Fatty tissue contains less water than muscle, so the percentage of water can vary with body type. Water is essential for health, vital for the maintenance of our numerous bodily functions including temperature regulation, cellular function, and waste removal. Every medical opinion  regarding overall health includes the need for drinking water.  As in all areas of life,  a proper balance must be found even with daily water intake. It is also possible to drink too much water, leading to other potentially serious situations. Water, as mentioned earlier, is, indeed life, but this adage   does not apply exclusively to the physical need.

We do not need to look for sources regarding water beyond Bereishis when God created the world, as this refers to all water prior to splitting up the waters below and above. One could argue the waters below are the physical waters while the waters above are the spiritual.. Nevertheless, “Mayim Chayim” - water of life - is both physical and spiritual, found spiritually-speaking later on in the Torah as well. I found a beautiful connection to spiritual water in a fascinating look into this week’s Torah portion.


In this week’s Parshas Pinchas the Torah states in Bamidbar 27:1 "ותקרבנה בנות צלפחד בן חפר בן גלעד בן מכיר בן מנשה למשפחות מנשה בן יוסף, ואלה שמות בנותיו מחלה נעה וחגלה ומלכה ותרצה"  “A petition was presented by the daughters of Tzelafchad, son of Chefer, son of Gilad, son of Makhir, son of Menashe, of the family of Yoseph’s son Menashe. The names of these daughters were Machlah, No’ah, Chaglah, Milkah and Tirtzah”.

The Apta Ruv, Reb Avraham Yehoshua Heshel in his sefer Oheiv Yisroel on this passuk quotes a familiar verse in Yishayahu 12: 2,3. The Navi states "הנה קל ישועתי אבטח ולא אפחד, כי עזי וזמרת קה ה' ויהי לי לישועה. ושאבתם מים בששון ממעיני הישועה"  “Here is the God of my salvation, I shall trust and not fear; for the strength and praise of the Eternal Lord was my salvation. And you shall draw water with joy from the fountains of the salvation”.  The word Yishua/salvation is called the holy crown from above and is where we draw the source for salvation, kindness and mercy.  These waters originate from two springs which represent  Chochmah and Binah - wisdom and intellect - reflecting on five sources from which water draws its strength.  Dovid HaMelech said, “Lift up the cup of salvation,” using the analogy of a cup as a receptacle to receive and hold wine, so too His eternal kingdom would have a receptacle to receive the five kinds of salvation from the Heavenly Kingdom of Hashem. The Zohar explains there are five Hebrew letters that have a ‘final’ letter associated with them, meaning when those letters are at the end of a word it sounds the same but looks different. Through a deep discourse, the Apta Rov shows a connection between those five final letters,  represented and connected to the word or name  - צלפחד  - Tzlefchod - the father of the five daughters who seek land as an inheritance in Eretz Yisrael. When it says ‘they came close,’ it means they grew spiritually closer to the Source from above.

Water and life are extremely precious;  we must take care to have an adequate supply in both physical and spiritual terms. As we find ourselves in the midst of the three weeks and have been witness to many tragedies befalling us, the Jewish people and the people of the world, we must direct our energies to the source of all. Hopefully, by doing so we draw not from a leaky faucet but from the Spring of Life, in both the physical and spiritual realm, to bring about the final salvation the גאולה שלימה במהרה בימנו אמן

Ah Gutten Shabbos

Rabbi Avraham Bogopulsky


Wed, January 19 2022 17 Shevat 5782