Inanimate Teachers by Nachi Farkas 


The first Pasuk of Parshat Bamidbar says that Hashem spoke to Moshe in Midbar Sinai. The Midrash teaches that the Torah is compared to three natural elements: water, fire, and sand. Rabbi Eliezer Kahan wonders: why is the Torah is compared to these three elements? 

An answer may be that important aspects of a Torah lifestyle are embodied by these three elements.  Water nourishes everything around it and will always flow to the lowest point that it can reach.  Similarly, Jews must try to help everyone around them in a humble way.  Chazal teach that giving charity humbly and secretly is better than giving openly.  Flames of a fire, while illuminating their surroundings, constantly reach higher.  Jews must also be a “light unto the nations” and always strive to be better people. While these two elements are very important aspects in Torah, neither of the two is sufficient.  Rather, one must also be like sand, which contains both aspects.  Despite the fact that it is usually grounded, sand still reaches heights (through sandstorms). By knowing the positive elements of fire and water we can recognize the important qualities of sand, and the Torah is therefore compared to all three.  If we act like sand and remain grounded and humble, while at the same time reaching higher, we will be able to nurture and illuminate everything around us. 


Desert of Torah by Benjy Lebowitz 

The Opportunities and Perils of Environment by Rabbi Duvie Nachbar