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By learning Torah, a person can perfect himself in the place he is.

Torah: Good for the Soul

Torah: Good for the Soul

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Torah: Good for the Soul
By learning Torah, a person can perfect himself in the place he is.

"And Jacob was a simple man, a dweller in tents." (Gen. 25:27)

"The steps of a man are arranged by G‑d, who delights in his way. Though he falls, he shall not be cast down." (Psalms 37:23-24)

A person must do everything possible to perfect himself. He must examine his personality traits and his opinions to see if he is flawed in any way. Thus the verse says, "Seek peace and pursue it" (Psalms 34:15); look into yourself to see if you have flaws, and seek to perfect yourself in that area.1 However, this only applies to a person who can perfect himself; if he cannot, he should "pursue it" - perhaps he will find a wise man who can help him fix himself.

Via the Torah a person learns, he can restore the lost fragments of his soul….

At times, a person can perfect himself where he lives, in his town, without needing to travel afar, for parts of himself have not fallen there.2 At other times, though, parts of his life-force have fallen to other places where he must travel to redeem them. He can extract them all with the greatness of his Torah, because Torah study is equal to everything. Thus the verse says, "The Torah of G‑d is perfect, it restores the soul" (Psalms 19:8), meaning that via the Torah a person learns, he can restore the lost fragments of his soul. Also, "One who studies Torah selflessly, merits many things"; that is, he merits to extract the life-force from all places, because all these places themselves were created from the Torah.3

Others, however, must travel to different places in order to repair their life-force….

However, it is rare to find a person who can do this. This was the quality of Jacob, who could extract the life-force scattered in all places by means of his Torah study - thus, he was "a simple man, who dwelt in tents." 4 Though he studies Torah in his one tent, where he lived, it was as if he dwelt in many places and many tents.

Others, however, must travel to different places in order to repair their life-force. Sometimes a person wishes to travel to one destination, yet ends up arriving somewhere else. This is no accident, for he must repair his life-force that has fallen there. At times, it may be enough to merely eat or drink in that place in order to perfect himself.

[Adapted by Eliezer Shore from Sefer Baal Shem Tov,
Ohr HaChochmah, Vayera; Reprinted with permission from www.baalshemtov.org]

Footnotes
1.
The root of the Hebrew word for peace, "shalom", is the same as that for the world perfection, "shlemut".
2.
According to the Writings of the Arizal, when G‑d created the world, due to a flaw in Creation, sparks of holiness were dispersed throughout the world. It was the job of Adam to reunite these sparks with their source. When Adam sinned, he caused even more sparks to be scattered, and the job of collecting them fell to all of humanity, and ultimately, to the Jewish people. This explains the reason for the many exiles the Jews have suffered -their purpose were to regain the list sparks of holiness. The Baal Shem Tov implies here that this process occurs on the individual level as well as the cosmic; that is, each soul, on descending into this world, also experiences a dispersal of essential sparks, which must be regained the course of ones life, and integrated into the service of G‑d.
3.
The Midrash states that G‑d looked in the Torah and created the world, and that He used the Torah as a blueprint of reality. Since all reality is based upon the Torah, a person who learns Torah can extract the sparks of soul that are scattered in all places of the world.
4.
The verse uses the plural. Rashi explains that this means the study halls of the prophets Shem and Ever
Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov [“Master of the Good Name”], 1698–1760. A unique and seminal figure in Jewish history, revealed the chassidic movement, and his own identity as an exceptionally holy person, on his 36th birthday, 18 Elul 1734. He passed away on the festival of Shavuot in 1760. He wrote no books, although many contain his teachings. (Also referred to as “the BeShT,” from an acronym of Baal Shem Tov.)
Rabbi Eliezer Shore, the translator, studied in yeshivot in New York and Israel for many years. He currently lives in Jerusalem, where he is a writer, storyteller, and Torah teacher.
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David Gibson Oxford, NJ via kabbalaonline.org September 5, 2013

Torah comment My humble apologies. Reply

Yerachmiel Tilles Tzefat, Israel via kabbalaonline.org September 2, 2013

For David Gibson Not flawed, but in a sense incomplete. Intentionally. As it says in the Torah and we recite in Kiddush: "G-d rested from all of His work which He had created TO BE DONE."

P.S. I suggest that you examine within and consider more carefully before writing for public consumption statements such as, " the writings of the Arizal and the injection of "sparks of holiness" which in turn results in a theology outside of Torah." Reply

David Gibson Oxford, NJ/USA via kabbalaonline.org August 26, 2013

torah If the Torah is so central to G-d and us His creation, then why the dependence on the writings of the Arizal and the injection of "sparks of holiness" which in turn results in a theology outside of Torah? The teaching seems to allow for G-d's work to be flawed. Can you explain this to me please? Reply

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