a finer flesh

Staring at books all day isn't for everybody. Torah, however, is for everybody. (If by everybody, you mean all Jews) Torah's to be found in books, so how do we get the Torah out to everybody? Thousands of years ago, there was no such problem. Prior to Sinai, there was no written Torah in the world, but there were Jews. Where'd they get their Torah?

The Maor Eynayim mentions in his commentary on parashat Shemot that since Adam, there have been those who learned the Torah. Namely ~2ooo years before the Torah was written down. He explains their relationship to Torah: The Torah is the force of the creator in the world. The Torah is what moves this world. The Torah was always around, the world was created through the Torah. The only difference was, the Torah was completely unclothed. Without these clothes, it is tremendously subtle and high, virtually impossible to grasp. The writing down of the Torah, the giving of the Torah was also the clothing of the Torah. Before the clothing of the Torah only a precious few souls with tremendously elevated intellects were able to perceive and grasp the inner meanings of the Torah. They had to be able to see the כח הפועל בנפעל, the power of the creator in that which was created. This explains why the Baal Shem Tov was able to go up to heaven and see the words of God giving the heavens life to this very day.

For us ordinairy folk this wasn't enough. We needed the added trappings of the Torah, so that we might manage to cling to it, like a burr to a pelt. True, the books aren't the only clothing, they aren't even the essential clothing, they're actually more of the clothing of last resort, the under garments, where you go when you've exhausted other sources. Really, originally, Torah was delivered face to face mouth to mouth, from one generation to the next. The books are there to fill in the gaps, in case we didn't get everything we needed from our parents and our teachers. Really though, the books on their own are still flimsy, clothing-wise. Without the fleshing out that only a teacher, a rebbe adds to the equation, we're stuck in front of some dusty books.

If we don't rescue Torah from the books, turn it into something vital and life-giving, all our children will have to inherit is some dusty books. If we throw out the books.. we run the risk of our children inheriting nothing at all.


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