Shir ha-Shirim XVIII Part One: Sefirah 37
“For your loved ones are better than wine.” The words of Torah are compared to water, to wine, to oil, to honey, and to milk. To water: “Ho, everyone who is thirsty, go to the water (Isaiah 55:1).” Just as water stretches from one end of the world to the other, as it says, “To In Who spread out the earth upon the waters (Psalms 136:6),” so the Torah goes from one end of the world to the other, as it says, “Its measure is longer than the Earth and wider than the sea (Job 11:9).”
Just as water is a source of life for the world, as it says, “A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters (Song of Songs 4:15),” so the Torah is a source of life for the world, as it says, “For they are life for those who find them and health to all their flesh (Proverbs 4:22),” and it is also written, “Come, buy and eat (Isaiah).”
Just as water is from heaven, as it says, “At the sound of Is giving a multitude of waters in the heavens (Jeremiah 10:13),” so the Torah is from heaven, as it says, “I have spoken with you from heaven (Exodus 20:19).”
Just as the downpour of water is accompanied by loud thunder, as it says, “The voice of God is upon the waters (Psalms 29:3),” so the Torah was given with loud thunder, as it says, “And it came to pass on the third day when it was morning that there were thunders and lightnings (Exodus 19:16).”
Just as water restores the soul, as it says, “So God split open the hall though that was in the jawbone, and water came from it and he drank; his spirit returned to him and and he was revived (Judges 15:19),” so does the Torah, as it says, “The law of God is perfect, restoring the soul (Psalms 19:8).”
Just as water purifies man from ritual uncleanliness, as it says, “And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean (Ezekiel 36:25),” so the Torah cleanses and unclean man of his uncleanliness, as it says, “The words of God are your words (Psalms 12:7).”
Just as water cleanses the body, as it says, “He shall bathe himself in water (Vayikra 17:15),” so the Torah cleanses the body, as it says, “Your word is purifying to the utmost (Psalms 119:140).”
Just as water covers the nakedness of the sea, as it says, “As the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9),” so the Torah covers the nakedness of Israel, as it says, “Love covers all transgressions (Proverbs 10:12).”
Just as rain water comes down in drops and forms rivers, so with the Torah; a man learns two laws today and two tomorrow, until he becomes like a flowing stream.
Just as water has no taste unless one is thirsty, so the Torah has no taste unless one works at it.
Just as water leaves a high place and flows to a low one, so the Torah leaves one whose spirit is proud and cleaves to one whose spirit is humble.
Just as water does not keep well in a silver vessel or gold but only in the most common of containers, so the Torah resides only in one who makes himself like a vessel of earthenware.
Just as with water a great man is not ashamed to say to a lonely man, “Give me a treat of water,” so with the words of the Torah, a great scholar must not be ashamed to say to a lesser one, “Teach me one chapter, or one statement, or one verse, or even one letter.”
Just as with water, if one does not know how to swim, he will be drowned, so with the words of the Torah, if one does not know how to thread his way in them and to instruct in accordance with them, he will ultimately come to grief.
(Shir Hashirim Rabbah 1.2.3:1)