Torah is the blueprint by which the world was designed. Everything that exists can be found in the Torah. Even more: In any one concept of Torah you can find the entire world.
Go out on a clear night and see the moon reflected in the water of a lake. Then see the very same moon reflected in a pond, in a teacup, in a single drop of water. So the same essential Torah is reflected within each person who studies it, from a small child to a great sage.
Before the experience at Mount Sinai, there was earth and there was heaven. If you wanted one, you were obliged to abandon the other. At Mount Sinai, the boundaries of heaven & earth were broken and Man was em- powered to fuse the two...
At Mount Sinai, the boundaries of heaven and earth were broken and Man was empowered to fuse the two: To raise the earthly into the realm of the spirit, and to bring heaven down to earth.
Before the experience of Mount Sinai, the coarse material of which the world is made could not be elevated. It could be used as a medium, an aid in achieving enlightenment, but it itself could not be enlightened.
Jacob used sticks for meditation, Isaac dug wells. But neither the sticks nor the wells became imbued with G‑dliness.
All that changed at Mount Sinai. When you take a piece of leather and write upon it a Torah scroll, you have transformed the material into spiritual. And the same with flour used for matzah for Passover night, and branches used to cover a succah, and even the earnings which you tithe for good causes. And so you may do in every aspect of your life.
Our forefather’'s task was to enlighten the souls of men. Ours is to transform the material darkness into light.
People think the Torah is all about laws and customs and quaint stories, with a mystical side as well.
The experience of our people at Mount Sinai was a mystical one. The biblical account says they saw the thunder. They saw that which is normally heard, and they heard that which is normally seen. The spiritual became their reality, and the earthly became an ethereal inference, an intellectual fancy.
The soul of the Torah - its mystical experience - came first. Torah without its inner meaning is a body without a soul.
There are not two Torahs, one for mystics and one for legalists. There is the body of Torah, and there is the soul of Torah. It is all one. Neither can contradict the other, and in each the other can be found.
In a simple commentary written for a five year old, great secrets of the Torah can be found. But only once you understand the simple commentary as the five year old does
To involve your entire self you must be creative in Torah. To be creative in Torah you must lock out the self.
Sometimes the Torah will tell you one thing, later contradict itself, and then later reveal a third concept that settles the contradiction.
With Torah, you don't get all the answers at once. First you must absorb and live with one simple truth. Then later you must find another truth -- one that may seem to conflict with and negate all you previously learned. Then, from that confusion, emerges a higher truth --the inner light behind all you had learned before.
Rabbi Zera fasted 100 fasts to forget all he had learned in Babylonia, so he could go on to learn the Torah of the Land of Israel.
Learning is not the mere acquisition of knowledge and more knowledge. Learning is a process of making quantum leaps beyond the subjective self. No matter how high a summit you may reach, there is always another peak above.
But you can only reach that peak once you realize you are still in the valley.
You may ask, ""Why must I study and learn? Is not the truth already within me?""
The truth is locked within you, deep in slumber. It is awakened and liberated by the truth that comes from without.
Studying Torah is not like studying any other subject. In another subject your mind fuses itself with information and knowledge about a thing. But in learning Torah, those thoughts you contemplate - He is there within them and you are one with Him at that time.
When you hear a concept of Torah, you must meditate upon it. You must take what you hear from a state of understanding to a state of realization and vision. It must move you until you are no longer the same self and your day is no longer the same day. Then it has become yours.
You can live in a palace filled with treasures and still be poor. To be wealthy you must own the things you have.
So too with poverty of the mind: You may have all the knowledge and brilliant ideas in the world, but you are still poor until they have become part of you.
The order of your day is crucial. It must start with vision and only then gradually immerse into the world.
Begin with learning that inspires, with meditation and prayer. Then go on to study of Torah that deals with worldly matters.
And then you may plunge ahead into the darkness, full of light with which to illuminate it.
Learning is a process of making quantum leaps beyond the subjective self.