Jesus speaks about “living water” flowing out from those who drink from the water he gives them, so that they will never thirst. (John 4) What did he mean? Jesus was speaking about the Spirit, who gives us new life. But there is imagery throughout the Scriptures about living water, and Jewish traditions from before and after Jesus’ time about what we can learn from water.
A classic rabbinic idea is that the study of Torah is like life-giving water. (Here Torah refers not to “Law” but to God’s “Teaching”—meaning the Scriptures as a whole.) Listen to some of they said:
• Just as rain water comes down in drops and forms rivers, so with the Torah; one studies a bit today and some more tomorrow, until in time becomes like a flowing stream.
• Just as water has no taste unless one is thirsty, so too, Torah is best appreciated through great effort and yearning.
• Just as water leaves a high place and flows to a low one, so too, Torah leaves one whose spirit is proud and remains with one whose spirit is humble.
• Water is a great equalizer, no matter your station or class – all can drink water. So, too – a scholar should not be ashamed to say to a simpler fellow, ‘Teach me a chapter, a verse or a letter’.
• 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.
• Just as water restores the soul, so does the Torah.
• Just as water is cleansing, the words of Torah are purifying.
(Song of Songs Rabbah 1:19)
These quotes and other fascinating rabbinic ideas about living water come from this link.