The fourth book of the Torah is referred to as the “Book of Bamidbar”, due to its introductory pasuk, which informs us that God spoke to Moshe in “Midbar Sinai” (Sinai Wilderness).
The Midrash on this pasuk explains that it was important for the Torah to record this fact, as the wilderness is one of the three ‘things’ with which the Torah was given, the other two being fire and water.
The Midrash offers scant explanation for this idea, and it is left to the commentators to help us fathom what it means. As we approach Shavuot, this Midrash is actually a useful guide on the backdrop to the Revelation at Sinai, and what Midbar Sinai can mean for us.
Rabbi Dunner explores a number of different commentators in an effort to understand exactly why wilderness, fire and water are so fundamental to our relationship with the Torah and with everything it has to offer.