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                                                                                                                                                                                            ​                                                                        Elixir of Life  Shalom, This week’s Torah portion Ve’etkhanan is read every year on Shabbat after Tisha B’Av. This Shabbat is also called: Shabbat Nakhamu  Shabbat Nakhamu: (lit. “Sabbath of Consolation”); the Shabbat following the fast of Tishah B’Av, so called because of the passage “Nakhamu” (Yeshayahu 40:1) read for the Haftorah.  We have the following verse in this Torah portion: “And this is the Torah that Moshe put before the Children of Israel.” (4:44) In Hebrew:וזאת התורה אשר שם משה לפני בני ישראל Pay attention: the word SAM is ‘Put‘ in Hebrew. But this word has an additional meaning. The Talmud (Yoma 72:) says on this verse:If a person is worthy, the Torah becomes for him an elixir of life. If he is not worthy, the Torah becomes for him a deadly poison.  [The word שָׂם in the verse and its parallel סַם in the Talmud’s commentary have different spellings but the same sound (SAM). The word שָׂם means “put,” and the word סַם means “medicine, drug,” which could be either positive or negative.]  The question is: how can the Torah be both: an elixir of life and also a deadly poison? The Vilna Gaon explains: the Torah is compared to rain.The rain in its essence is good, but the results are dependent on the recipient. When rain falls on the earth, then:A place that is sown with wheat seeds will sprout wheat.A place that is sown with thorns and thistles will sprout thorns and thistles. So too, a man. The heart of a man is like the earth, and the Torah is like the rain.  When in the heart of a man there are seeds of good character traits and love – the Torah sprouts them and makes them bigger – it becomes for him an elixir of life.  So, when in the heart of man there are seeds of bad character traits and hatred – the same Torah makes them bigger and sprouts them too – and it becomes a deadly poison.  Boost your Hebrew skills with our Hybrid GSH (Guided Speak’able Hebrew) course. 
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