Friday, May 27, 2011

Bamdibar 5632 Third Ma'amar

The sixth chapter of Avos begins, "ר' מאיר אומר כל העוסק בתורה לשמה זוכה לדברים הרבה/Rebbi Meir says, 'Everyone who occupies himself with Torah for its own sake, merits many things."  What are these many things?  According to the Sfas Emes they include all the good that this physical world has to offer.

Why does a person who learns Torah for its own sake merit the bounty of the physical world?  What is the connection between the two?  To answer these questions we must understand what learning Torah for its own sake means.

The Zohar[1] teaches us that God created the world with the Torah.  He did not just look into the Torah as a builder might look at a blueprint to know how to build a building.  He actually used the Torah to create the world.  The Torah is much more than words on parchment.  The Torah is a powerful spiritual force. 

When God said, "Let there be light," light was created through the words themselves.  It follows that the power of the Torah permeates the physical world and that the physical world is actually the physical manifestation of the Torah.  This is akin to, "ה' אחד ושמו אחד/God is one and His name is one." (Zecharia 14:9))  God's name is the mechanism by which He is known and revealed.  The world, too, is the vehicle through which we can reveal the power of the Torah.

Learning Torah for its own sake means more than simply learning Torah without an ulterior motive.  In fact, the Sfas Emes takes a broader view of "learning Torah" in this context.  The Mishna does not state, "All who learn Torah …"  The Mishna states, "All who occupy themselves with Torah …"  The latter is broader and includes actions that we would not consider "learning Torah" per se.  

The purpose of learning Torah and for that matter, the purpose of the mitzvos is to reveal the power of the Torah that permeates the Creation.  We occupy ourselves with Torah for its own sake by revealing the Torah that underlies the physical world.  We do this simply by recognizing the truth of this. Then the Torah reciprocates and we merit experiencing the power of the Torah that is in everything.

The light of the Torah is a singular power but it manifests physically in the myriads of different and disparate entities that make up this world.  So, when we recognize the light of Torah in the world, we connect with and elevate the entire world.  By getting the Torah, we get everything.  In this way we merit "many things".

[1] Zohar 1:5a, Introduction

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