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I admit I didn't expect it - a kid in our shul asked me that when I mentioned that the Torah is compared to water (B"K 82a):

"דורשי רשומות אמרו: אין מים אלא תורה,
שנאמר: הוֹי כָּל צָמֵא לְכוּ לַמַּיִם (ישעיהו נ"ה א)"

So if Torah is like water how come we can't live/survive in water?

  • אין קמח אין תורה – Double AA Apr 14 at 21:19
  • @DoubleAA Is קמח compared to air anywhere? Or מלאכה compared to air? – Al Berko Apr 14 at 21:21
  • A fish can survive in water – b a Apr 14 at 21:24
  • @ba How do we turn to fish? – Al Berko Apr 14 at 21:26
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    @AlBerko The Torah is נמשלה to water, and the fish in the משל symbolize the Jewish people – b a Apr 14 at 21:28
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If we look at the full context of the Talmudic passage we can resolve this question.

דתניא וילכו שלשת ימים במדבר ולא מצאו מים דורשי רשומות אמרו אין מים אלא תורה שנאמר הוי כל צמא לכו למים כיון שהלכו שלשת ימים בלא תורה נלאו עמדו נביאים שביניהם ותיקנו להם שיהו קורין בשבת ומפסיקין באחד בשבת וקורין בשני ומפסיקין שלישי ורביעי וקורין בחמישי ומפסיקין ערב שבת כדי שלא ילינו ג’ ימים בלא תורה

For it was taught: ‘And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water, upon which those who expound verses metaphorically said: water means nothing but Torah, as it says: Ho, everyone that thirsteth come ye for water. It thus means that as they went three days without Torah they immediately became exhausted. The prophets among them thereupon rose and enacted that they should publicly read the law on Sabbath, make a break on Sunday, read again on Monday, make a break again on Tuesday and Wednesday, read again on Thursday and then make a break on Friday so that they should not be kept for three days without Torah.’ (Soncino translation)

As we can see here, the comparison is very specific. It’s not saying that Torah is like water that we can live inside it. It’s saying that consumption of Torah is as necessary for survival as consumption of water. Just like one cannot survive three days without water, one cannot survive three days without Torah.

  • Wow, I liked your conclusion - we shouldn't be immersed in water all the time, we just need to consume it occasionally, to keep us healthy. I think the Rabbis would strongly disagree, though! – Al Berko Apr 14 at 22:22
  • @AlBerko Well it does say מפסיקין which may imply that there should be times that you specifically don't learn Torah. – Alex Apr 14 at 22:24
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    @AlBerko not just rabbis but logicians would disagree with your characterization of his conclusion. It's simply not what he says. – Double AA Apr 14 at 22:26
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The Torah is likened to water and we need to know how to swim well in order to survive. This means that one must understand the Torah correctly, according to the sages and commentators .And if you do so you can not only survive but also dive into new depths and delve into pearls - (these are חידושי תורה)

In my opinion, swimming means knowing that it divides into 2 when we need to do (1) gesture movements to try to understand more and more, (2) breathing that is already something that is not up to us but we need to get out of the water for a moment and understand that there are things that can not be understood by the little person

  • Unfortunately, knowing to swim is mainly about knowing to breathe in water, so if Torah is water - what's the breathe? – Al Berko Apr 14 at 21:42
  • In my opinion, swimming means knowing that it divides into 2 when we need to do (1) gesture movements to try to understand more and more, (2) breathing that is already something that is not up to us but we need to get out of the water for a moment and understand that there are things that can not be understood by the little person – user19027 Apr 14 at 21:48
  • i add its to the answer – user19027 Apr 14 at 21:56

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