There are plants in Hawaii that are endangered because their natural pollinator is rare or extinct. People climb mountains and go from plant to plant pollinating them by hand.
In certain periods of our history, an analogous process occurred. Scholars became rare in certain cities. Other scholars, the natural pollinators, would travel from community to community, bringing learning and light. They would climb mountains, both literally and metaphorically, to ensure that the nectar of Torah was spread.
Modernity has blessed us with both learned individuals and the means to transmit that learning both near and far. All the apparatus of modern communications, from printing to email, makes distribution of learning easy. The question for Jewry is not the pollinators but the receivers. The wisdom is accessible, but will Jews take the time to learn? Pollinators can climb to good purpose only if there are plants.
Rabbi David Wolpe’s musings are shared in My Jewish Learning’s Shabbat newsletter, Recharge, a weekly collection of readings to refresh your soul. Sign up to receive the newsletter.
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