Shomer Emunim #18-19

18 Feb

Shealtiel: You have won me over with your words. You solved the problem I brought up about the Kabbalah being tainted because of the arguments among the later Mekubalim. However, I will be honest with you. I am still not at peace with the ways of the Mekubalim. I will set my problems before you so that you might resolve them.

 

My first problem: They say that all the words of the Torah and the stories that are written in it contain great secrets. This appears to be untrue. I’ll give them that there are secrets and reasons behind the divine commandments. But as to the stories containing hidden secrets- this is not apparent at all. It seems very clear that they are meant to be taken at face value only.

 

Yehoyada: So do you think that the Bible stories were written for no reason other than to be a book of records, to be read like chronicles? Heaven forbid someone should believe that. This was the mistake of Menashe son of Chizkiah [1] who would sit and lecture about false interpretations of stories. He said, “Moshe should have only written, ‘The sister of Lotan was Timnah, and Timnah was the concubine of Elifaz’, ‘Reuven went, in the wheat harvesting season, and found mandrakes in the field’ [2].

 

And not only this. Even if you say that there is a point to the Bible stories- for their life lessons, and moral and corrective teachings, as we find Chaza”l sometimes teaching lessons from the stories- however, you say that this is the only reason for them. Then our holy Torah is no different than any other book of chronicles. They were also not written aimlessly. They too were written to warn and guide and advise.

 

The complete truth is that these stories weren’t written only with the intention of being guide books, like all other chronicles. It must be that there is also a much deeper purpose in writing them. That is, they hint to great secrets and to all true knowledge. Because our holy Torah, in order to be the Torah of God, and the entire word of God from beginning to end; must contain everything, as is the nature of the word of God. That’s why King David said, “The Torah of God is complete” [3]. Because it is complete, lacking nothing, encompassing all true knowledge and secrets of existence. As Chaza”l say in a Medrash, “The meaning of the verse, ‘The King brought me into his chambers’ [4]: these are the rooms of the Torah. ‘He told you his treaty’: this is the book of Genesis, which is the beginning of his creation of the world. ‘That He commanded you to do the 10 things’: these are the 10 commandments. How else could Elihu son of Barachel come and reveal to them the secrets [5] of the Behemoth, and the secrets of the Leviathan? How else could Ezekiel come and reveal to them the secrets of the Merkavah? That’s what it means when it says, ‘The King brought me into his chambers.” We see that everything can be learned out of the Torah.

 

The Ramban already went on at length about this in his introduction to his commentary on the Torah. He says, “…If this is so, then everything that was said through prophecy, from Maaseh Merkavah and Bereishis, and that which the wise men of the world speak about, i.e. the 4 forces in the world, mineral, plant life, animal spirit, and human spirit, all of this was said to Moshe. All of it: how they were created, their powers, their makeup, their actions, the limbs that were excluded from them. And all of this is written in the Torah either outright or through hints. Chaza”l have already said, “50 gates of understanding were created in the world. All were given over to Moshe, except for one. As the verse says, ‘And you lessened him a little bit from God’”. And they also said, “At the creation of the world, there were 50 gates of understanding…and everything of the gates of understanding that was given over to Moshe was written down either outright or through hints. Either in the letters; or through numerical calculation (Gematria); or in the form of the letters when written according to the Halacha; or through the changes in the shapes of the letters, such as the winding or crooked ones, etc.; or through the tips of the letters and their crowns. As Chaza”l say in Menachos 29b, “When Moshe went up to heaven, he found God attaching crowns to letters. He said to Him, ‘What are these for?’ He replied, ‘In the future, a man will expound hills upon hills of laws from these.’ ‘Until then, what do they mean for us?’ ‘They will simply be a law passed down from Moshe on Sinai, of which no explanation will be understood unless it was heard mouth to mouth all the way back to Moshe at Sinai.’ See this explained further ibid.

 

In summation, there is no saying of Chaza”l that isn’t hinted to in the Torah. Whether we are speaking about the explanation of the laws and commandments or the secrets of Maaseh Bereishis and Maaseh Merkavah, they are all either written out plainly or hinted to. A proof of this is how hard we see Chaza”l working to show hints from the Biblical texts to the teachings they received from their masters. They do this by both the laws and the homiletic teachings (Aggadah). Because everything is hinted to and included in the Torah. This is what the Mishnah means when it says, “Search in it, and search in it, for everything is included in it”[6]. It encompasses everything, and lacks nothing of the laws, ideas and all true knowledge. They said in the Zohar on Parsha Beha’aloscha, 149b, “Israel was fortunate to have been given the heavenly Torah, the Torah of truth. The one who says that the Biblical stories were simply stories, should have his breath blown out of him…” See ibid, and also page 152a, where they go on longer about this.

 

It’s clear from all this that the Bible stories, while certainly literally true, were not written by God to be mere chronicles, God forbid. They main purpose is for the essential secrets that were enclothed in them. By way of example: the section that reads, “And these were the kings that ruled in the land of Edom” [7]. Certainly this story happened as it was written. However, it was written in the Torah in order to encase the secrets of the world of ‘Tohu’ [8]. And since the true purpose is for the secrets, therefore the story is written with many different details. For example, some verses say, “And the name of his city was X”, and some don’t mention his territory at all. Some include the father’s name, and some write only the King’s own name. The last verse mentions the King’s wife, and the rest don’t. Along with many other details that don’t help the story at all, but contain wondrous secrets, as is known from the books of the Ariza”l. And the story of Laban and Jacob (Yaakov), with the striped, speckled and grizzled sheep [9]. The main reason why the story was written in the Torah was for the wondrous secrets about the creation of the worlds that are enclothed in it, as is known to the scholars of the truth.

 

In summation: the entire Torah is written in lower speech, and hints to the higher secrets, as is known to those who are proficient in the Wisdom.

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[1] Tractate Sanhedrin 99b.

[2] Menashe was saying that these verses are unnecessary.

[3] Psalms 19:8.

[4] Song of Songs 1:4.

[5] ‘Secrets’ is written as the word ‘chambers’ in the Hebrew.

[6] Tractate Avos 5:25.

[7] Genesis 36:31- 36:39.

[8] In the Kabbalah, an early step in the chain of creation.

[9] Genesis, Chapter 31.

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One Response to “Shomer Emunim #18-19”

  1. Yisroel AryehLeib August 20, 2012 at 10:52 pm #

    NU? Where’s the rest of the Sefer?

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