May my teaching drop like the rain…like storm winds upon vegetation, and like raindrops upon blades of grass.
Vegetation and grass? Would it not be more significant (and poetic) to speak of the rain falling upon amber waves of grain?
The answer, I believe, is rooted in a truth about communication. Chazal tell us that words that come from the heart enter the hearts of others. It is more than apparent, however, that the listener’s heart has to be open and engaged. Otherwise, the words lodge elsewhere, but are never fully felt. The listener has to prepare and direct his heart to the speaker for the message to be effective.
This is not unlike the effects of rainfall. The moisture that descends is crucial to what grows. In some cases, it is insufficient. Bountiful harvests of grain and fruit require much prior care and toil. They require preparing and readying the field. They then must be followed by more care: weeding, fertilizing, pruning, dealing with pests and frost. This is not so in regard to grass and random vegetation, which show themselves in all kinds of places. Add rainwater, and they appear. They may not be attractive or useful, but they do quite well without human input. No preparation necessary.
This, then, was Moshe’s heartfelt prayer. He wanted his words to penetrate everyone – even those whose hearts were not prepared. He asked that his parting message should be as effective as rain on a field, which will grow grass and vegetation even with no prior preparation.
- Based on Chiddushei R. Yosef Nechemiah (Kornitzer) (1880-1933), Rav of Krakow ↑
- Devarim 32:2 ↑
- Berachos 6b ↑