Friday, June 10, 2016

Shavuos: Studying Torah is a love affair between the Torah and the Jew - as a relationship of a woman and her lover

Since Shavuos is the time of receiving the Torah for all Jews - in all generations. It is important to understand that Torah study is not simply mastering the text or the logic of the different views or even the final halacha.  It has nothing to do with the secular concept of scholarship. The essence of Torah study is a love affair between the Jew and the Torah. This deep passionate bond is described fully in the following quote from the Zohar.
Zohar (II 99a): How many human beings live in confusion of mind, beholding not the way of truth whose dwelling is in the Torah, the Torah which calls them day by day to.herself in love, but alas, they do not even turn their heads! It is indeed as I have said, that the Torah lets out.a word, and emerges for a little from her sheath, and then hides herself again. But she does this only for those who understand and obey her. She is like unto a beautiful and stately damsel, who is hidden in a secluded chamber of a palace and who has a lover of whom no one knows but she. Out of his love for her he constantly passes by her gate, turning his eyes towards all sides to find her. She, knowing that he is always haunting the palace, what does she do? She opens a little door in her hidden palace, discloses for a.moment her face to her lover, then swiftly hides it again. None but he notices it; but his heart and soul, and all that is in him are drawn to her, knowing as he does that she has revealed herself to him for a moment because she loves him. It is the same with the Torah, which reveals her hidden secrets only to those who love her. She knows that he who is wise of heart daily haunts the gates of her house. What does she do? She shows her face to him from her palace, making a sign of love to him, and straightway returns to her hiding place again. No one understands her message save he alone, and he is drawn to her with heart and soul and all his being. Thus the Torah reveals herself momentarily in love to her lovers in order to awaken fresh love in them. Now this is the way of the Torah. At first, when she begins to reveal herself to a man, she makes signs to him. Should he understand, well and good, but if not, then she sends for him and calls him “simpleton”, saying to her messengers: “Tell that simpleton to come here and converse with me”, as it is written: “Whoso is a simpleton let him turn in hither” (Prov. IX, 4). When he comes to her she begins to speak to him, first from behind the curtain which she has spread for him about her words suitable to his mode of understanding, so that he may progress little by little. This is called “Derasha” (Talmudic casuistry, namely the derivation of the traditional laws and usages from the letter of Scripture). Then she  speaks to him from behind a thin veil of a finger mesh, discoursing riddles and parables-which go by the name of Haggadah. When at last he is familiar with her she shows herself to him face to face and converses with him concerning all her hidden mysteries and all the mysterious ways which have been secreted in her heart from time immemorial. Then such a man is a true adept in the Torah, a “master of the house”, since she has revealed to him all her mysteries,.withholding and hiding nothing. She says to him: “Seest thou the sign, the hint, which I gave thee at first,.how many mysteries it contains?” He realizes then that nothing may be added to nor taken from the words of the Torah, not even one sign or letter. Therefore men should follow the Torah with might and main in order that they may become her lovers, as has been described. ‘ “And if he take him another...


  1. Soncino Zohar, Shemoth, 97a-b:

    “And when the King Himself appears, “Then Jacob kissed Rachel, and broke into tears” (Genesis 29:11). That is, the Lord discovers each holy soul, and takes each in turn up unto Himself, fondling and caressing her, “And if he designated her for his son, he shall deal with her as is the practice with free maidens” (Exodus 21:9.) “acting towards her after the manner of daughters”, even as a father treats his beloved daughter fondling and caressing her, and giving her presents. “Such things had never been heard or noted. No eye has seen [them], O God, but You, Who act for those who trust in You” (Isaiah 64:3). As that “daughter”, the soul, has done her work in this world, so will the Holy One “do” His work on her in the world to come. Then the old man prostrated himself in prayer, wept again, and continued: “If he marries another, he must not withhold from this one her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights.” (Exodus 21:10). What does it mean by saying, “If he take him another one”? Does it mean that the Holy One will give another soul in this world to the righteous, and not the same one which already had fulfilled in this world the will of her Master? Surely not.”

    “Wisdom has built her house, She has hewn her seven pillars. She has prepared the feast, Mixed the wine, And also set the table. She has sent out her maids to announce On the heights of the town, “Let the simple enter here”; To those devoid of sense she says, “Come, eat my food And drink the wine that I have mixed; Give up simpleness and live, Walk in the way of understanding.” To correct a scoffer, Or rebuke a wicked man for his blemish, Is to call down abuse on oneself. Do not rebuke a scoffer, for he will hate you; Reprove a wise man, and he will love you. Instruct a wise man, and he will grow wiser; Teach a righteous man, and he will gain in learning. The beginning of wisdom is fear of the Lord, And knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through me your days will increase, And years be added to your life. If you are wise, you are wise for yourself; If you are a scoffer, you bear it alone. The stupid woman bustles about; She is simple and knows nothing. She sits in the doorway of her house, Or on a chair at the heights of the town, Calling to all the wayfarers Who go about their own affairs, “Let the simple enter here”; And to those devoid of sense she says, “Stolen waters are sweet, And bread eaten furtively is tasty.” He does not know that the shades are there, That her guests are in the depths of Sheol.” (Proverbs 9:1-18)

    The Malbim on Mishley (Wengrov) 88-89:

    “1. The Teacher returns to the conception of wisdom as the basic Divine approach that wa paramount in creation…2. We are told three things, in metaphor, about wisdom. The first is that she has constructed her house and hewn out its pillars. The second is that the banquet she has prepared for her guests is full of fine food and drink, and everything is set out in public, so that all may share in it. 3. The third thing is that wisdom does not issue her invitations, but sends out her maidebns, thus denotes that a man does not receive wisdom directly, but through the sage, prophets, and teachers, who invite him to the exalted banqueting-hall of wisdom.”

  2. “Therefore men should follow the Torah with might and main in order that they may become her lovers, as has been described. ‘ “And if he take him another...”

    To the Zohar the daughter is the soul. (Exodus 21:7-11):

    “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not be freed as male slaves are. If she proves to be displeasing to her master, who designated her for himself, he must let her be redeemed; he shall not have the right to sell her to outsiders, since he broke faith with her. And if he designated her for his son, he shall deal with her as is the practice with free maidens. If he marries another, he must not withhold from this one her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights. If he fails her in these three ways, she shall go free, without payment.”

    Midrash Buber Exodus 21:10 “If he marries another, he must not withhold from this one her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights. From here we learn that a man is obligated for a Jewish girl [his wife], her food, her clothing, and her conjugal rights. שאר is food: “You have devoured My people’s flesh [שאר]; You have flayed the skin off them, And their flesh off their bones. And after tearing their skins off them, And their flesh off their bones, And breaking their bones to bits, You have cut it up as into a pot, Like meat in a caldron” (Micah 3:3). כסותה is as it sounds [clothing]. ועונתה is דרך ארץ as written: “Shechem son of Hamor the Hivite, chief of the country, saw her, and took her and lay with her by force [ויענה]”(Genesis 34:2).

    I love this! Men must provide food, clothing and sex to their wives. Yes this will make him happy and contented.

  3. "Faith is a luminous star that leads the honest and sincere seeker into the mysteries of Nature. You must seek your point of gravity in God, and place your trust into an honest, divine, sincere, pure and strong faith, and cling to it with your whole heart, Soul, sense and thoughts— in the fullness of love and confidence. If you possessed such a faith and make your effort accordingly, God will not withhold his truth from you, but will reveal his work to you creditably, visibly and consolingly."


please use either your real name or a pseudonym.