What is the reason that prompted Chazal to institute the
great simcha of Beis Hasho'eivo in honor of the
mitzvah of nisuch hamayim? It was a simcha so
great that the Mishna tells us, "Anyone who did not
witness the simcha of Simchas Beis Hasho'eivo, has not
seen a simcha in his lifetime." Whence this great
In the sefer Beer Yosef, in parshas Bereishis
the mechaber explains the Medrash Rabbo
which tells us what happened at the time when Hakodosh
Boruch Hu separated the waters and instructed the
Mayim Hatachtonim, the waters that were decreed to
come down onto this world, to separate themselves from the
upper waters in Heaven. The Medrash tells us that the
waters destined to come onto this world were crying about
The Tosafos HaRosh says that the reason the words ki tov
are not mentioned on the second day of creation is
because the waters argued that they did not want to come down
to this world, to a place of tumah. Hakodosh Boruch Hu
then informed the waters that the Yidden would be
given a mitzvah of nisuch hamayim, using them in the
This is a mitzvah wherein the Yidden pour water into a
hole on the southwest corner of the Mizbeiach. This
hole, which Chazal tell us was created during the week of
creation too, went down to the Tehom, the waters below
However, even with this promise the waters were not appeased.
The reason stated is because the waters argued that the
mitzvah of nisuch hamayim is but once a year.
Hakodosh Boruch Hu therefore informed the waters that
the Yidden would have another mitzvah: placing salt on
the Mizbeiach each time a korbon was brought.
With this, the waters were finally appeased.
The Beer Yosef implies that the reason the waters were
reluctant to come onto this world of tumah was because
they too wanted to remain in Heaven, to be near the
Shechina, just like the Mayim Ho'elyonim, the
upper waters, had the privilege of doing.
Now, the fact is that the amount of water in our world is a
"drop in the ocean" compared to the waters which are in
Heaven. Moreover, the three luggin of water used each
time for the mitzvah of nisuch hamayim is again no
more than a "drop in the ocean" compared to the waters on
The mitzvah of nisuch hamayim was only performed for
six days each year and for just a total of 830 years during
the time of the two Botei Mikdosh. So the total amount
of water that was ever used for the mitzvah of nisuch
hamayim is minute compared to all the waters which are in
Heaven and on earth. Yet Hakodosh Boruch Hu informed
the Mayim Hatachtonim that the mitzvah of nisuch
hamayim will compensate them for all the merits that the
Heavenly waters receive by being in Heaven near the
Shechina for thousands of years.
We learn from this the exceptional importance that
Hakodosh Boruch Hu places on the mitzvah of Nisuch
Hamayim. And it is precisely for this reason that Chazal
saw it fit to institute such a great simcha.
The question which has yet to be answered is why the waters
were not appeased with this offer but yet they were satisfied
once they were told that the Yidden would receive the
mitzvah of placing salt on the mizbeiach with each and
When the people of the Dor Haflogo wished to build the
tower to reach the Heavens, they went around looking for a
suitable place to build it. The posuk in Bereishis
(11:2) tells us where they found their suitable place.
"They found a valley in the land of Shin'or." The question
is, if they wanted to build a tower to reach the Heavens, why
start from a valley? It would seem to have been more
appropriate to build it on a high mountain.
The answer given is because they needed to build their tower
in a place of tumah, and a valley is just such a
place, because it is further away from Shomayim. In
contrast, a high place such as a mountain top, is a place of
kedusha as it is nearer to Shomayim. Hence the
Beis Hamikdash was built on Har Hamoria. Also,
matan Torah was on Har Sinai.
A human being who has a tzelem Elokim must walk
upright, with his head higher than the remainder of his body.
Thus the head is at a higher level of kedusha than the
rest of the body. An animal however, which does not have a
tzelem Elokim does not generally walk around with its
head higher than its body.
It might be that the basic reluctance of the waters to come
down onto this world was because of the fact that its nature
would be to always flow to the deepest level available. Water
by nature will always flow downwards to the lowest place, and
it was this that the waters did not want. It understood that
this world required water to survive, but why must the water
have this natural tendency to always flow downwards? Why can
it not also stay on higher ground, like other substances?
From the Mishna in Mikvo'os it is presumed that
snow and ice are not considered water. It is also a fact that
both snow and ice will stay put even on the highest mountain
peaks and not flow downwards. They will only flow downwards
once they start to melt and become water (again).
To this Hakodosh Boruch Hu answered that for the
mitzvah of nisuch hamayim this phenomena of always
seeking to flow downwards is essential since it ensures that
the waters will flow down freely into the Tehom. We
suggest that the waters perhaps understood this, but still
were not fully reconciled to the prospect of forever having
to flow downwards, away from kedusha.
Hakodosh Boruch Hu therefore informed the waters that
the Yidden would be given a mitzvah of placing salt on
the Mizbeiach with each and every korbon.
The salt on the Mizbeiach has to be extracted from sea
water. The way to extract salt from sea water is to boil the
water which then evaporates and rises into the air, leaving
the salt behind. When the waters understood that this mitzvah
would enable them to rise upwards once again, they were
It is also interesting to note how the water cycle works.
Although water by nature flows to the lowest depths it also
rises to the highest of all worldly levels to form our
Next time you stand marveling at a waterfall, spare a thought
about how diligently the waters fulfill their obligations
since the Creation. This is just to enable us to once again
fulfill the mitzvah of nisuch hamayim with them --