Seek, Seek—Darosh, Darash

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via: The First Fruits of Zion

Thought for the Week:

The words “searched carefully” are the exact halfway mark of the words of the Torah. This is to teach us that the entire Torah revolves around constant inquiry. One must never stop studying and seeking ever deeper and broader understanding of the Torah. (Degel Machaneh Ephraim) [1]

Commentary:

But Moses searched carefully for the goat of the sin offering, and behold, it had been burned up! (Leviticus 10:16)

Leviticus 10:16 says, “Moses searched carefully for the goat of the sin offering, and behold, it had been burned up!” The words “searched carefully” translate the repeated Hebrew verb darash (דרש). Darash means “to search,” but it is also the word used to speak of studying Scripture. For example, a short teaching on Torah is sometimes called a d’rash, and a traditional interpretation of Torah is called a midrash (מדרש). Midrash comes from the same word—”to search.” Studying Torah requires searching the Scriptures.

The study of the Torah is one of the commandments of the Torah. Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “You shall teach [the commandments of the Torah] diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up.” To teach the Torah one must study it first. Deuteronomy 6 says that the Torah is supposed to be searched, studied and discussed at home and on the way, evening and morning.

The Master repeats this commandment to search the Torah when He rebukes the Pharisees in John 5:39, saying, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me.” Most translators agree that the same verse could also be read in the imperative sense: “Search the Scriptures diligently. In them you have eternal life because it is these that testify about Me.”

Therefore, it is a commandment of the Torah and a commandment of the Master to diligently search the Torah. As we do, we encounter Messiah because the Torah testifies of Him.

In Hebrew, the verse repeats the verb darash, to indicate a diligent search. It says, “darosh darash”; literally, “searching, he searched.”

The Stone Edition Chumash on Leviticus 10:16 mentions that most printed editions of the Torah contain a masoretic note stating that these two Hebrew words–darosh, darash–are the exact halfway mark of all the words of the Torah. That is to say that if one person started with the last Hebrew word of the Torah and started counting backward, one word at a time, and another person simultaneously started with the first Hebrew word and started counting forward, they would meet at the exact center, in Leviticus 10:16, where it says, “darosh, darash.” Right at the very center of the Torah are the words “Search, search!” The same words can be understood to mean, “Study, study!”

Endnote
1. ArtScroll Tanach Series, Vayikra, A New Translation With a Commentary Anthologized From Talmudic, Midrashic and Rabbinic Sources (Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications Ltd., 1995), p. 159.

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