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Friday, October 9, 2009

Models of Torah II - The Torah as a Building

The foundation of upon which the Torah is built is middot tovot.[i] In other words, the Torah is built upon the person. The Written Torah is the outer structure of the building, while the rabbinic interpretations and injunctions provide for the functionality of building, the walls, ceiling and lighting, and the imperatives of “Kedoshim tiheyu” and “v'asita ha'yashar v'hatov b’eynei Hashem ” make for interior decorating, the Feng Shui.[ii]

As one learns and practices Torah the building grows. Indeed, we start with a soul but that is only the basement; through study and practice we can acquire higher souls,[i] build more rooms[ii].

The completion of the building is good but not enough according to some – we must build an elevator to bring us to the upper floors,[i] the infinite rooms and the marvelous view from above. This is called avodah – a spiritual toolset for self-observation and control.

And then we will have an infinite tower reaching to the Throne of Glory…

[i] R. Chaim Vital, Sha’arei Kedusha 1:2.
[ii] Ramban, Vayikra 19:2; Devarim 6:18
[iii] Arizal, Sha’ar ha’Gilgulim, hakdama 1, 18
[iv] Eliyahu Rabbah, Parsha 7
[v] Ramchal, Derech Hashem, 1:2:1


avakesh said...

In Brisk they taught in the name of Beis Haleivy - The written Torah is written on a scroll and the Oral Law is written upon a person. This has many applications, such as:

Rava is quoted as saying:

"How foolish are those people who stand up in respect for a Sefer
Torah but fail to stand up in respect for a Torah sage. In the
Torah it is stated that one who violates a Torah commandment is
punished with forty lashes and it is the Sages who interpreted
this as meaning only thirty-nine."

It seems to contradict Kiddushin 33:"If we are obligated to stand up as respect for those who study
the Torah how much more so must we stand up for the Torah

Rabbeinu Nisim (Ran) quotes Tosefot as resolving this apparent
contradiction in the following way: Since the Torah does not
explicitly order standing up for a Sefer Torah and this obligation is only deduced through the logic of the Torah Sages,
it makes sense that one must stand up for the Sages themselves!

The Beis Haleivy's yesod prefigures the Brisker two halachos approach. There are two different aspects of honoring Torah and one is present in Written and the other in Oral Torah. Each aspect is correspondingly learned out - one for wtiten to Oral(talmidei chachamim) and the other from Oral to Written Torah.

avakesh said...

Oh, Rava is in Makkos 22