Rabbi Elazar opened [his discourse] with the verse, "Open you my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things in Your Torah". (Psalms 119:17) How foolish men are, that they neither know nor seek to be occupied with Torah. Torah contains all life, all freedom, and all goodness in this world and in the world to come. [Torah is the secret of tiferet and receives its life force from chochmah, freedom from bina, and all goodness from da'at.] It is life [chochmah], namely, it enables one to merit days properly fulfilled [with satisfaction and joy] in this world, as it is written: "I will fulfill the number of your days". (Ex. 23:26) And one will merit [also] long days in the world to come, a life of joy, life without sadness, life that is real life, freedom in this world, freedom from everything, because other nations cannot rule over anyone who is engaged in the study of Torah.

...other nations cannot rule over anyone who is engaged in the study of Torah.

You may say that there were those who are persecuted, that it is a decree from above, such as the one for Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues, and so it arose in [supernal] thought [i.e. in the 10 sefirot of chochma, the secret of thought for the sefirot which "determine" all things that are hidden from mankind, and do not reveal below the reason for the decree, but generally those engaged in the study of Torah cannot be ruled over.]

Thus [anyone who is engaged in the study of Torah earns] freedom from the Angel of Death, who cannot have sway over him. Assuredly this is so. If Adam had cleaved to the Tree of Life, which is Torah, death would not have been brought upon him and the whole world. It was "engraved upon the tablets" (Ex. 32:16) [don't read "engraved/charut", rather "freed/cheirut" from the Angel of Death] when G‑d gave Torah to Israel. This has already been explained. If it were not for them committing the sin of worshipping the Golden Calf and leaving the Tree of Life, they would not have brought death back to the world. And G‑d said, "I had said, 'You are angels, all of you sons of the most High'". (Psalms 82:6) [Rashi explains: "When I gave you the Torah, I gave it to you on the condition that the Angel of Death should not rule over you" but] you defiled yourself "therefore, you shall die like Adam". (Ibid. 7) Therefore, the evil serpent which darkened the world cannot have power over anyone occupied in the study of Torah.

Rabbi Yesa said, If this is so, it should be true that he who does not sin will not die. If so, why then did Moses die? He said to him, Moses died, but [the angel of] death had no sway over him. He did not die by him, nor was he defiled by him. Therefore, it is considered that Moses did not really die, but rather that he cleaved to the Shechinah and has gone on to life eternal.

Moses did not really die, but rather...cleaved to the Shechinah and has gone on to life eternal.

As such, he is called "living", as we have explained in discussing the verse: "And Benayahu, son of Yehoyada, the son of a valiant living man". (II Samuel 23:20) Thus, he who is occupied in studying Torah has freedom from everything, including freedom in this world from the enslavement of heathen nations and freedom in the world to come, for no reckoning will be demanded from him in that world at all. [Everyone is judged after death but the Torah scholar's wrongdoings have been purified in the merit of his Torah and thus enters already purified into the afterlife, not needing to be further purified in Purgatory.]

Come and see! How many supernal mysteries exist in the Torah. For that reason, it is written: "She is more precious than pearls". (Proverbs 3:15) How many hidden treasures there are in it. For that reason, when David looked in the spirit of wisdom, he said, "Open you my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Your Torah."

BeRahamim LeHayyim:
The power of Torah study has been discussed before. What is Torah study? Must it be formal, pouring over books, discussing with colleagues, teaching students?

All the above are wonderful and wondrous. But our job is also to be constantly engaged in Torah, to meditate on it day and night, night and day. See Torah in everything. In nature, in people, in signs, in appearances, in all.

Come and see! See with your inner eye. Ponder the mysteries of the world. Make connections. "Live in the times" as Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi said: find daily significance in the weekly portion.


Bracketed annotations from Metok Midevash and Sulam commentaries
Copyright 2003 by KabbalaOnline.org, a project of Ascent of Safed (//ascentofsafed.com). All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work or portions thereof, in any form, unless with permission, in writing, from Kabbala Online.