Saturday, April 21, 2012

On Reading The Zohar Without Understanding

“The learning of the Zohar is higher than any other learning, even if one does not understand what he is reading, and even if he reads the words with mistakes. It is, nevertheless, very beneficial for one's soul, because although all of the Torah is the Names of Holy One, blessed be He, it is related in the form of stories, and one who reads it, understands the stories and pays attention to the simple meaning of what he is reading. On the contrary, the Book of Zohar consists completely and openly of the secrets, and one who reads them knows that these are the secrets and the mysteries of the Torah, except that he may not completely understand them, because they are related in a dense manner, and because of his limitations.”

Chida, quoted by Shaarei Zohar of Rabbi Daniel Frisch

Sunday, April 15, 2012

There Is No Contradiction Between Multiple Opinions

There is no place in the laws of the Torah for a contradiction; when some Sages hold one opinion, and others hold a different one, all of these explanations flow and end up on one place, called “Kingship,” or better yet, “Qeeenship,” which is another name for the Oral Torah. Not only these opinions end up in one place, but they also originate in one source – the Foundation of the Cosmic Man, also called Zeir Anpin. What, then, is the reason for the disagreements? When an opinion comes out from the Foundation, it may lean more to the right, Kindness, or to the left, Strictness, but it invariably comes back to the same Kinghsip. Thus we have the rule about the disagreements of the early Sages that “Those and these are the words of the living God.” That is the meaning of King Solomon's, “All rivers go to one sea, all go to one place.”

If the secrets of the Torah are its inner essence and if they illuminate the other areas of learning, then why is the study of them not widespread? Rabbi Shimon explained it with this phrase of the Torah: “God formed every wild beast and every bird out of the ground... every living soul... but the man did not find a helper.” The wild beasts and birds symbolize people without knowledge. Since they lack understanding, they are no help for a man. Even those who are called “living soul” and who study the Law, they, too, are of no help for man in exile if they do not investigate the reasons and are not seeking for the secrets in their learning.

Art: Eva Gonzales - Secretly

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Mystical Secrets Are The Essence Of Torah

The secret meaning is the real essence of the Torah teachings. The practical parts of the laws were only necessary so that the light of the Torah could be constricted and conveyed to us, for otherwise we could not bear it, because it would be too much. In the uppermost of the four spiritual worlds, the world of Nearness to God, the Torah is called “Kabbalah”. Is it also called “Pshat.” The simple meaning of the word “Pshat” is just that, “simple meaning.” However, this word comes from the Song of Songs, “Pashat'ti at kutonti” - I have taken off my garment – because in the world of Nearness the Torah is seen as its essence, without the physical garments hiding it. That – adds Rabbi Chaim Vital, the primary student of Arizal – is the main meaning of the word “pshat.”

Adam, the first man, was “working the garden and guarding it.” Working meant doing positive commandments of the Torah, while guarding referred to the negative ones. However, how is this possible? For example, how could he observe “do not plough with an ox and a donkey put together,” if he had no need to plough? The answer is that Adam had to keep the two spiritual husks, one called “ox” and the other “donkey” separate and not allow them to unite. Adam's Torah was Kabbalah.

The Song of Songs said, “The curves of your thighs are like jewels.” The word “curves”, “chamukei” stands for the first letters of a common teaching in the Talmud, “chasurei mechasra v chachi kotani”, which means “the Mishna is missing a phrase here, and here is what it really means.” The words of the Mishnah and Talmud are essentially secret codes, and in these cases the plain meaning had to give way to the necessity of phrasing the rule according to its secret meaning. Understanding these is the goal one should strive for, and it is the meaning of the prayer we say before learning the Talmud, “Unveil my eyes, so that I can perceive wonders from Your Torah.”

Art: Pierre Auguste Renoir - The Garden In The Rue Cortot At Montmartre