Latest update: May 24th, 2012
The one-dimensional level of yeshiva learning which characterized the Diaspora world gave way to a truncated observance of Judaism, an “orthopractice” which lacked a deep philosophical base. Jews dutifully observed the precepts, but often “the depths of Divine life” were missing. The outer shell of Torah was left without the heart. The Tikuney Zohar explains that people who do not delve into the secrets of Torah make Torah observance into a dry, routine, handed-down Judaism lacking genuine depth.6 Without the inner formulas of Torah, a person only recognizes external realities. In effect, he sees only the upper part of the iceberg. His life revolves around his own private circle, and not around the life of the Clal. In consequence, he fails to recognize the Kedusha of Eretz Yisrael and to understand its absolute value and importance to the Nation. Thus, Rabbi Kook writes:
“By alienating oneself from the secrets of G-d, the highest Segulot of the deep Divine life become extraneous, secondary matters which do not enter the depths of the soul, and as a result, the most potent force of the individual’s and of the Nation’s soul will be missing; and the exile is found to be pleasant in its own accord. For to someone who only understands the superficial level, nothing basic will be lacking in the absence of the Land of Israel, the Jewish Kingdom, and all of the facets of the Nation in its built form.”
An alienation from the secrets of Torah creates an alienation from the highest realms of Divine existence. It causes a barrier, blocking a person from being in tune with the most vibrant powers of his soul, and with the soul of the Nation. When these aspects of Torah are missing, one can have a good life, a productive and meaningful life, but not a life of the Clal; not a life imbued with the spirit of God which infuses our National Soul. This higher Divine life is only possible when one is deeply connected to the secrets of Torah and to Eretz Yisrael.
It is important to note that even an outstanding Torah scholar can develop a distorted understanding regarding Eretz Yisrael if he is not steeped in the esoteric teachings of our Nation.7 In the Diaspora, with its emphasis on the individual, someone who only studies the revealed side of Torah can become alienated from the Nation’s inner yearnings and goals. A talmid chacham can be learned in Halacha, but distant from the deep philosophical reaches of Judaism.8 The Spies in the Wilderness were the Torah leaders of the tribes, yet they failed to recognize the necessity of living in Israel.9 The Gaon of Vilna teaches that this same sin of despising the cherished Land haunts the Jewish people in every generation.10 When one puts a personal focus over the life of the Clal, the yearning for a National Jewish Homeland can become weakened and confused. This tragedy arises when the Torah is not learned in all of its fullness.
It must be noted that an alienation from the secrets of Torah is not caused by intellectual shortcomings, but rather by a lack of identification with these concepts. Even an expert in Kabbalah can be estranged from the realm of inner Segulot if he approaches his studies in the spirit of intellectual endeavor alone. Only by sublimating one’s entire existence to the Divine esoteric ideals can an honest and passionate love be developed for this branch of knowledge.
About the Author: Tzvi Fishman was awarded the Israel Ministry of Education Prize for Creativity and Jewish Culture for his novel "Tevye in the Promised Land." A wide selection of his books are available at Amazon. The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not represent the views of The Jewish Press
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