The Sōd of the Torah, the World and the Profound Implication of the Giving of the Torah
What is the Torah
To understand the deep meaning and profound implication of matan Torah, the giving of the Torah, we need to first understand what the Torah is, and in order to explain this, we need to expound on the intrinsic meaning of our relationship with Hashem.
The source of the entire creation and our life is through the connection we have with Hashem. Just like a physical body is alive and acts from the power it receives from the spiritual soul within, likewise the entire creation is supported by the Light of Hashem which gives it sustenance. ואתם הדבקים בד' אלקיכם חיים כולכם היום", "You who cling to Hashem, your G-d-you are all alive today. Without this connection of the creation unto G-d, the creation would cease to exist, like a body without the soul of life. Whilst in a positive venue, the stronger and deeper our devotion and attachment to Hashem likewise the spiritual sustenance permeates within us, we are imbued with the blessed source of life. כי באור פניך נתת לנו ד' אלוקינו תורה וחיים אהבה וחסד…
But how does a human being cling and attach himself to Hashem, a light of Infinity. This is where the Torah has a paramount place in our lives. This requires a brief explanation of what is Torah.
The essence of what the Torah is, is alluded to when the Talmud tells us that the first word spoken on Sinai, anochi, “I,” means: “I have written and transmitted My soul.” This means that God infused His very “soul” within the Torah. It’s as if Hashem has said to the Jewish people: “You are searching for Me? You want to achieve dveikut, a deep relationship with me? I can be found within the Torah.” All of this is alluding to a profound sōd, to a deep, inner understanding of Torah.
Hashem is aiyn sof, infinite; infinite light, such that, in truth, no created, finite being can connect to, or have a relationship with God. For this reason, God crafted a presentation of Himself in a way that His infinite light is garbed in the Torah. This created the potential for us to connect and relate to God, through our connection (dveikut) and relationship to the Torah.
Sōd ha’Torah: The Inner Meaning of the Torah …
The inner, underlying meaning and reality of the Torah is that it is the manifestation of the ohr aiyn sof—the Infinite Light—clothed within the words and concepts of the Torah in such a way that when a person is “attached” to Torah, he is attached to God: Attached to God’s awesome, holy Light. There simply is no greater connection to God than those times when we are fully connected to Torah.
… and Creation
This revelation of God within the Torah is also the very root of creation itself.
To explain: When we look out on creation, it appears to be one large system that runs on its own. However, we know, and our fundamental emuna is, that beneath the surface, it is life-giving Godliness that enables everything to exist and function at all times. As the verse says, “And You give life to them all.” (Nechemia, 9:6)
Just like the human body receives its life force from the soul, so too all of creation exists and receives its life force from the Godly light. And, it’s not just existence that is enabled by the Godly light, but everything that takes place within creation—everything—is absolutely an extension of, and dependent on, the Divine shefa, the flow of light. Precisely like the body and the soul: The life of the body, and the functions and actions of the body, are only possible because of the soul within the body.
With this in mind, let’s look again, and deeper, at the Torah.
As we saw, the Torah is the light of Hashem garbed in a way that is in sync with physical existence, and that makes that great light accessible in the context of our created world. That insight leads us directly to understanding that the Torah itself is the shefa, the Godly flow that sustains the world.
“God looked into the Torah and created the World.”
The ohr aiyn sof is like an enormous power station generating endless amounts of energy, and the Torah is like a transformer that regulates that energy in such a way that it becomes usable in this world. Via the Torah, that vast energy can now power the “appliances” of the world. In other words, Torah becomes the underlying life-power source for everything that exists in creation.
The Torah, in essence, is the neshama, the soul, of all existence. It both gives life, and regulates life. All that happens in the world, everything that unfolds, is but another manifestation of the light garbed in the Torah that is at the root source of creation. And, like the electricity and the appliance, there must be a smooth, constant current present for things to operate at their best. And, just like the soul is the life-energy source for the body, it’s also the life-energy source for every quality, trait and capability that the person possesses. And the same is true for the world, all forces draw their life’s energy from the Torah.
Putting all this together, we can understand that the Torah, and the flow of kedusha that shines from it, is the essential, underlying spiritual infrastructure that enables everything that happens in the world. The more Torah there is in the world, the healthier, stronger and more beautiful the neshma of existence, and the more sanctified and uplifted everything becomes. And, the opposite is also true.
Sōd Matan Torah: The Deep, Inner Meaning of the Giving of the Torah
The Jerusalem Talmud tells us that before the Torah was given, it was l’malah, in the heavens. This means that until the giving of the Torah, it’s life-energy giving force was rooted in the heavenly realm. However, from the moment the Torah was given, that life giving energy force was transferred to the earthly realm, to Am Yisrael. At the giving of the Torah, the royal scepter—the ability to sustain and direct creation itself—was placed in the hands of the Jewish nation. The flow of the life giving energy in the Torah, is now controlled by Am Yisrael. The deeper the connection (dveikut) and relationship of the Jewish people to the Torah and it’s commandments, the more illuminated the world, and all the dimensions of the world becomes.
Matan Torah was the most radical revolution in the history of creation. In that revolutionary moment, the fate of all the worlds (olamot), and the well-being of everything within creation, was placed in our hands. In the words of the Jerusalem Talmud—
“Hashem my God, You have done many great things …” (Tehillim 40:6)
This is a description of how the world worked before the giving of the Torah.
“… Your wonders and Your thoughts (are given) to us…” (Tehillim 40:6)
This is how the world works after the giving of the Torah.
The Talmud compares what happened at Sinai to a king that transferred his royal signet ring to his son. The remarkable transfer at Sinai was the transfer of power and authority to Yisrael, and with it, enormous responsibility. This power, and this responsibility, testifies to the extent of the partnership between Hashem and Am Yisrael in guiding and caring for creation; in illuminating all the worlds with the ohr ha’neshama, the light of the soul of creation, the light that sustains all existence.
Itaruta D’ltata: The Awakening From Below
The koach, the power, that was transferred to us at Sinai is called itaruta d’ltata, the Awakening from Below, and the implication is that from that point, all heavenly shefa is dependent on the actions of Am Yisrael: We act, we stir and awaken, and from Above there is a corresponding response; an awakening, an action, a shefa. This is the deeper meaning of gadol ha’metzuveh v’oseh, “great is the one who is commanded and acts.” The concept ha’metzuveh v’oseh is referring to the one in whose hands heaven entrusted the power and ability to “awaken” the shefa from Above.
“Through the word of God, the heavens were made.” (Tehillim 33:6)
Yes, the heavens were fashioned by God, but the prophet Isaiah (51:16) said:
“I have put my words in your mouth, and sheltered you with My hand; to plant the heavens and make a foundation for the earth. And said to Zion, ‘you are my nation.’”
With those words the prophet was saying that with Matan Torah, God put d’var Hashem, the word of God—the ability to plant the heavens and make a foundation for the earth—into our mouths. And this, the prophet was telling us, is the underlying secret, the sōd, of the great partnership between Am Yisrael and Hashem, as he said: And said to Zion, ‘you are my nation.’ As our sages commented—
The word ami, “My nation,” can also be read, imi, “with Me.”
So that the verse can be read, “And said to Zion, ‘you are with Me.’
We are partners, together with Hashem. At the giving of the Torah, the creative word of Hashem that plants the heavens and establishes the earth, became our word; our ability to fundamentally impact, fashion, and shape the heavens and the earth.
This entire explanation is the hidden meaning, of what we say every day - וחיי עולם נטע" בתוכנו". The life of the world is planted within us. חיי עולם-
This is the Infinite light, G-dly שפע which sustains the entire creation. And not only did he give it to us,he embeded it within us like a plant. A seed is put in the ground,and grows and develops into a tall proud tree, likewise the Light of Hashem is planted within us, and עם ישראל with its deeds of Torah and חסד develop this Light of Hashem bringing blessing and life to the entire world.
Let us keep this holy principle in mind every morning when we pray and thank Hashem wholeheartedly, על שבראנו לכבודו, ותורת אמת נתן לנו, וחיי עולם נטע בתוכנו.
May we merit to be imbued with the ohr of Torah and kedusha; and through hearts filled with love, may we be able to learn Torah and thereby enlighten the entire world; and to make it a better place; purer, more refined, and filled with dynamic, holy life.
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Translated by Shimon Apisdorf