Chapter 5: The Unique unity with G-d experienced during Torah study
(LY) 4th Teves
1. The term “grasp:”
- The following chapter will come to explain the wording of “grasp” used by Eliyahu regarding G-d, that no mind can grasp Him [as seemingly, the term grasp is used when referring to physical and tangible objects, and the term “comprehension” and the like seemingly would have been better to be used in this context.]
2. The intellectual experience-The unity of the mind with a comprehended subject:
- Mind grasps and encompasses subject: When any intellect perceives and understands an intellectual subject, the mind grasps that subject and encompasses it, and the subject is grasped, encompassed and clothed within the mind that understood and perceived it.
- The subject grasps and encompasses the mind: In addition, at the time of intellectual comprehension and grasping of the subject by the mind, the mind and its intellect are enclothed within the subject.
- The unity experienced with G-d when learning Torah
- The intellectual experience when studying Halacha: For example, when a person clearly and thoroughly comprehends a certain Halachah in the Mishnah or Gemara, his intellect grasps and encompasses that Halachah, and his intellect is also clothed within that Halacha at the time that he strives to understand it.
- The comprehended law is the will and wisdom of G-d: Now, this Halachah that the person has comprehended is the wisdom and will of G-d, as it is G-d who has willed and desired this law that he comprehended. The fact that the law may never have been manifested in this physical world due to never occurring before and due to not occurring in the future, does not take away from the fact that it is the will and wisdom of G-d.
- The unity with G-d experienced as a result-Grasping G-d and being grasped by Him: Accordingly, when a person comprehends this law from the Mishnah or Gemara he actually grasps and encompasses in his mind and intellect the will and wisdom of G-d. This is what is unique about Jewish law, as it is the only possible method for a creation to grasp the will and wisdom of G-d which is otherwise not attainable. Likewise, man’s intellect is also invested within this will and wisdom of G-d.
- An unprecedented form of unity: This form of unity is unprecedented in this physical world and there is nothing like it that can be found within the physical crations, for a matter to be one and united from every side and angle.
4. Torah comprehension achieves a superior unity with G-d than Mitzvah fulfillment:
- Torah comprehension greater than all of the Mitzvah’s: Based on the above, we can understand that the Mitzvah of Yedias HaTorah [i.e. comprehending Torah, which is fulfilled through thought and intellect] contains an infinitely greater advantage and superiority over all the other physical Mitzvah’s, including even over those Mitzvahs that are dependent on speech, and including even over the Mitzvah of studying Torah through speech.
- Mitzvahs encompass the soul, but the soul does not encompass it: The reason for this is because when one fulfills the Mitzvahs in speech and action, it causes G-d to encompass the soul from head to toe, and enclothe it within Him. However, one does not grasp and encompass G-d upon fulfilling it.
- Torah comprehension encompasses the soul and is encompassed by it: This is in contrast to one who comprehends Torah, as when he does so, aside from the fact that his intellect is invested within the wisdom of G-d, the wisdom of G-d is also encompassed by him.
- Each on his level of comprehension: The unity affected by Torah comprehension is unique to each person according to his level of comprehension and his potential understanding and grasp of Torah subjects in Peshat, Remez, Derush and Sod.
3. The Torah is bread while the Mitzvos are garments:
- Based on this we can understand why the Talmud and Scripture refer to Torah study as bread and Mitzvah fulfillment as clothing.
- Why Torah is similar to bread and food: The reason for this is because just as bread is entered into the body and digested by it to then serve as a source of energy for the body by becoming its flesh and blood, so too when a person comprehends Torah it is invested within his soul and is encompassed by his intellect and gives sustenance and energy to his spirit just like food. The source of this energy that the soul receives from the comprehended Torah law comes from G-d himself, the life of all life and energy of all energy, as it is He that is invested within the wisdom and will of the Torah that was comprehended. It is for this reason that Scripture describes Torah as being within one’s stomach.
- Or Penimi-The Torah comprehended is the soul’s source of Divine energy in the Garden of Eden: It states in the writings of the Arizal that the Torah that one comprehended in this world is the sustenance for the souls in the garden of Eden. This sustenance from Torah is known as an internal light, or an Or Penimi. This Divine energy which serves as the sustenance for the soul in the world to come, comes specifically from the Torah that he learned in this world for the sake of heaven, Lishma. “For the sake of heaven” means that he studied the Torah in order to connect his soul to G-d through its comprehension, each person according to his level of intellect.
- Or Makif-The Mitzvahs are the garments of the soul in the Garden of Eden: It states in the writings of the Arizal that the garments of the soul in the Garden of Eden come from the Mitzvah’s that he fulfilled in this world. These garments are known as an encompassing light, Or Makif.
Why Torah is greater than Mitzvahs-Also Torah draws down Or Makif: It is for this reason that the sages state that the study of Torah is of equal weight to all the Mitzvah’s combined, as the Mitzvah’s are a mere garment of the soul while Torah study both sustains the soul similar to food and also garbs the intellectual soul which is invested within it during its research and study. All the more so does this apply when one verbalizes with his mouth the words of Torah, as in such a case his words of speech become an encompassing light for his soul.