Primal Judaism
The Power of Receiving Torah
The entirety of creation froze in deathly silent anticipation. The moment of ultimate cosmic destiny arrived. A select group of humanity completed all their historical preparations to unite with the creator in an unprecedented union so awesome and powerful that all of existence be utterly transformed forever. This is “Sinai” and this is the world’s direct interface with the creator. This is the focal point –everything before and after draws from this moment!
The readiness of the "bride” of this union and the manner of the “groom” serves as the universal paradigm of divine interface. Every detail must be thoroughly studied and understood and internalized. After all, this cosmic happening is not isolated historical event. It transcends time and space. It speaks to all generations and to every individual in all times and in every place. Specifically it’s manifold power is more available (and imperative) to be drawn from on the calendar date of the union; the 6th day of the Hebrew month of Sivan; the holiday of Shavuot.
What is the “manner” of the “groom” (the Creator)? The answer is one word; “TORAH.” The means of the ineffable infinite one to unify with his finite human bride is through “Torah.” The Torah is the divine manifestation and will unclothed in garments enabling the bride, us his holy people, to unite and fuse with him in the most brilliant union imaginable. Through the union we access eternal life, all the wisdom of existence and the actualization and perfection of our souls and the entire creation. But These Heavenly gifts are only accessible to one who is properly prepared to synthesize or align oneself with these divine garments. Before we discuss the nature of the bride’s readiness and the groom’s garments and the alignment and synthesis required, let’s ask a prior Question. Why connect indirectly with garments- why not directly?!
The Ball Shem Tov- the founder of the Chasidic movement explained with the following analogy:
A King wanted to indulge his son with the royal pleasures of the palace and all that’s involved in his regal stately world. True to human nature however the prince became spoiled with all o this overabundance. The king’s only option was to send the prince far away from the palace both in terms of distance and in terms of lifestyle. With the passage of time, the prince became thoroughly convinced that his lowly friends and cheap food and disgusting habits and miserable values, aspirations and outlook were all the best that life has to offer. He severed and forgot his royal roots thoroughly. The desperate king searched fruitlessly for someone to help him bring the prince back to his senses. Finally a wise man offered his services. After earning the total confidence of the fallen prince by establishing a mutual friendship based on unconditional love and acceptance, the wise man began a dialogue with the prince about the pleasures and values of life. Of course the sage expertly spoke the princes lowly language based on the lowly perspective of the prince. Sure enough with patience and gentle guidance the prince was eventually persuaded to wholeheartedly rejoin his jubilant father.
Similarly the torah is designed to be G-D’s Garment of communication waking us up, calling us to come back to our soul’s destination. He speaks to us in our language. I’m not only speaking about Bible stories and their moral lessons. This network of divine torah garments or communicative mechanics speaks to or better yet, aligns itself with the depth and breadth of the soul. The torah both it’s oral and written parts are constructed of 613 Mitzvoth; 248 positive and 365 negative corresponding to our body and soul’s 248 organs and 365 connecting tissue. And the only way to properly internalize torah is through all of our human faculties of action, speech, and thought corresponding to the three primal soul categories of Nephesh, Ruach and Neshama. And since the torah encompasses the totality of all reality in all of its divine wisdom, (as our Sages teach us, G-d looked into the Torah- and then based on that Torah blueprint of all reality- Hashem created the world), it serves as the constant liberating bridge for the person to reconnect to infinity in all areas of life!!
We have to know however this alignment with the creator trough his holy Torah is not a process that happens on it’s own. This is where the bride comes into the picture. Just as in the original Sinai experience, the bride, the Jewish people, approached it’s union with the divine infinite groom in a state of absolute readiness, so we also must proceed every encounter with the holy one through his Torah with absolute readiness. What does this readiness consist of?? First of all total bittul or self-nullification. Prior to receiving the Torah on mount Sinai, the Jewish People declared all that the Torah will demand of us we will do and afterwards we will hear or try to understand. The angels in their heavenly realms exclaimed in wonder, “who revealed this secret to mankind?” This is the secret so contrary to human nature that no other nation picks up on it. Upon being offered the Torah by Hashem all other nations refused because they first asked what’s in it and found it incompatible with something in their personality. They declared first we will hear and we will not do!
This that the Jewish people declared, we will do and afterwards we will hear, was powerful enough to reverse the historical human condition. Immediately all diseases, blemishes, evil-urges and death ceased. In fact we re-entered paradise. We literally ascended up to the spiritual level of Adam-the first man- before the sin. No wonder the angels were amazed.
The other major historical and yearly lesson we must extract in order to internalize the state of readiness of the bride is the perfection of character traits. Each year for fifty days we transform ourselves from being lowly slave-mentality animalistic creatures to become refined human beings. We take 49 days to align ourselves with the divine sefirot. We purify our characters and ourselves to such an extent that we are in touch with our true selves in all of our richness. Beyond that nothing blocks the way from us fully getting along with all others in our life. Our sages said we encamped in Sinai as one man with one heart with total unity and total peace. The kabalists describe the inner anatomy of the soul as follow; there is a spiritual layer of character traits, which is internal, or an internal motivator or regulator to the layer of mitzvoth. The idea is that without our character traits properly toned the other areas of mitzvoth and torah will be adversely affected. In short the Bride must be as refined as possible in order to unify with her groom in true Torah unification. This and self-nullification makes us ideal bridal readiness.
What about union itself? The Sinai experience represented the ultimate union of Hashem with his creation. A union culminating from a 50 day preparation process. In this union we are no longer slaves or wide-eyed novices. We are at the peak level of readiness and maturity. We no longer work n internalizing individual divine character traits as we have been doing in the 50 days. We’re now concerned with internalizing the divine source and essence, the totality. And how do we do it- through the agency of Torah. The Union itself is actually a receiving of Torah, in fact every time we receive Torah. So how do we maximize this union?! The classic chassidic work, The Tanya, tells us that the union of connecting to Hashem through Torah is incomparable in the material world to any other type of union. As we described earlier, there is total alignment between the Torah and the soul in its very anatomy and physiology. The Tanya points out that this alignment when activated by proper torah Study so Connects us with Hashem that beyond the dynamic that happens to one involved in a mitzvah that Hashem envelopes him spiritually, the torah learner also envelops Hashem so to speak through his understanding of the Torah. This is compared therefore to the bread, which nourishes the soul just as physical bread nourishes the body. Our great Rabbis relate to this Torah union or digestion process in graphic ways. The Arizal saw all obstacles to total clarity as the enemy. He would fight off this enemy daily until he left the battleground in an exhausted sweat. Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto saw Torah as a shimmering coal who only could come alive in all of it’s flaming glory or the person who knew how to fan the flame with all of one’s might. Our sages’ say- turn it around and inside out again, again because all of the wisdom of reality can thusly be accessed!
So far we have described a cosmic universal process of interface with the creator through his torah. What we want to do is to use this union as a template or formula to further elaborate on in reaching towards primal torah learning!!
Questions? Contact founder and Director Rabbi Yitzchak Schwartz by email.