Here’s a tweet I wrote before Shabbat, for today’s (4/7/22) #1ChapterRambam daily study tweet (a challenge I took up for this 3-year study cycle) and it ties into this week’s Torah portion of Metzora as well:
“Moisture” is a sign of life for a Chassid. Dryness is the antithesis. Sometimes it can appear dry on the outside but be moist within. A litmus test in #1ChapterRambam (Mishkav uMoshav 2) is to soak the dried & shriveled item in water to see if it rehydrates. Immersion helps!
The Friediker Rebbe, Rebbe Yosef Yitzchak, waxes poetically about the qualities of figurative Chassidic “moisture” called “Lachluchis”. While study texts or words of the prayer can be likened to bricks or stones, the feelings and vibes, stories and songs, the informal and less rigid, are likened to the moist sloppier mortar that holds it all together.
We were tabling this week at IsraelFEST with our “Falafel-Ball-Bike” and some students were taking plain falafel balls without dipping or squiring any Tehina sauce on it! You need the sauce! Falafel itself can be too dry. You don’t want your college experience to be all study and no fun. The sauce adds a slippery, loose, wet moisture that transforms the Falafel tasting experience.
Now and then we can shrivel up and dry out. In car-talk, we’re low on oil lubricant. Falafel-wise, we got no Tehina sauce. Everyone from doctors to coaches to weight loss gurus say we need to make sure we stay hydrated and drink enough water (and then some more!). In prayer, it can be that we get lost in the rote and ritual and the words without much feeling, not enough song.
Back to the Rambam text. Immersion is a good litmus test. Say, you see something that looks dried out, but perhaps still has some moisture within. How to tell, how to know? Give it a good soak! Immerse it in liquid for some time. If it rehydrates, if it loosens up again, then you know it had some moisture within. But if it still stays rigid after all that soaking, then its dried up for good (or not so good).
My Zeide Moshe Rubin would quote a verse from Psalms: “My tongue is like the quill of a smooth scribe” (btw, another activity table that we had out at IsraelFEST this week…) and my grandfather would infer, just as a scribe has to keep going back to dip his quill in the inkwell, we have to keep lubricating (spiritually) as well. You can’t just keep writing using the old ink. It dries up. You need to go back, re-immerse the quill, to be able to write some more.
Passover is coming. Passover is an immersive experience. And the whole multisensory Seder also adds a good deal of good Jewish “moisture”. Let’s make the most of opportunities like these to re-immerse, to lubricate, to make sure our Judaism doesn’t shrivel up and dry out.
Keep it moist and fresh!