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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Models of Torah VIII - The Torah as a Brain

The Torah is not merely a description of an ancient reality; it is a blueprint, a map, of reality itself. The Torah reveals the makeup of reality, both of the cosmos and the psychos, the Adam ha'Gadol and the Adam ha'Katan[i].

Yet the Torah is not merely a map of reality; it is that which contains
[ii] and continuously[iii] channels reality.[iv]

We may call the Torah a brain, the interface between the Divine and the world. This brain is influenced from above and from below, from the mind and from the body, from the Divine and from the mind of Klal Yisrael.
[v] The Divine gives the brain its basic form and life-force and Klal Yisrael determines the processes and memory of that brain.[vi] Thus, the Torah is a meeting tent, a covenant, a marriage between heaven and earth.[vii]

Israel, Torah, and the Holy One are one.

[i] Breisheit Rabbah 1:1; Zohar, I:5, II:161.
Regading the cosmos: R. Menachem Azaria of Fano (Assara Maamarot, Chikur ha’Din 3:22) writes that the Torah essentially discusses the spiritual structure of the universe and only hints to the lower worlds. Ohr Meir (Metzora, Emor, Korach), for example, explains that the letters of the Torah are imbedded into the world (and give it its life-force). See Stan Tenen.

Regarding the psychos: The Gr'a writes (Commentary on Safra d’Tzniuta, 55a): “Everything written regarding the patriarchs and Moshe and Israel in their entirety appear in every generation. The sparks of their soul reincarnates in every generation, as is known. Similarly, all of the actions – from Adam to the end of the Torah – appear in every generation as is known to the one with understanding. Furthermore, they appear in every single person...All of this is contained within Parshat Bereishit, and further contained within the first seven days, and further contained in the first seven words which refer to seven thousand years.” On the latter point, see Avodat Avodah. This concept can be explained using the model of fractals. In Jungian terminology, the Torah presents to us the essential psychological archetypes in the collective unconscious of Israel and, perhaps, the Nations. “Ma’aseh avot siman la’banim.”

The Torah also reveals the psychos in a different sense: R. Chaim Vital (Shaarei Kedusha 1:1) explains that the six-hundred and thirteen commandments correspond to six-hundred and thirteen soul parts which correspond to six-hundred and thirteen body parts. Thus, the Torah presents us with a spiritual (and physical) health manual. See The Torah as a Building.

[ii] Ta'anit 9a; Ramban, Hakdama l’Peirush al ha’Torah. The Gr’a writes (Commentary on Safra de Tzniuta, 55a): “The principle is that everything that was, is, and will be until the end of time is contained within the Torah from “Breisheit” to “l’Eynei kol Yisrael.” This applies not just to generalities [of existence] but even the particulars of every species and every specific person. Everything that will happen to him, from the day of his birth until his demise, and all of his tribulations [alternatively: reincarnations], and all the details of the details. Furthermore the [details] of every single species of animals and beasts and every living thing in the world, and every piece of grass and vegetation, and matter - all of the details of the details of the details of every single species and individuals for all of time – what will happen to them and their roots...”

[iii] Shabbat 88b. Nefesh ha'Chaim, 4

[iv] R. Bakst writes: "The Torah is considered to not only contain the blueprint of all creation - past, present, and future - but her verses, words, and letters actually are the consciousness through which all reality is evolving and guiding itself - a virtual brain through which the Absolute processes its thought and modes of expression....
"In order to do so we must first ask a question which the Kabbalist himself is, in one sense, also asking himself. What was and what continues to be the purpose of the Sinaic revelation and its covenant, replete with literally hundreds of ritual laws and commandments? What kind of world are we living in that could conceivably necessitate such an intricate and often overwhelming system of obligation?...
"From this Adamic perspective it can now be appreciated that the Sinaic Covenant is no longer simply a code of laws along with their intellectual analysis, but rather the written and oral Torahs are actually specific tools with whichto rectify, reconstitute, and resurrect all mankind and reality. This process of "cosmic mending" with the intent of reconnecting and unifying is called in Hebrew "Tikkun" and if there was one word that could epitomize the essence of Judaism for the Kabbalist it is this. (Even the Hebrew word "mitzvah" which is usually translated as "commandment" [as in the Ten Commandments] also translates as 'connection' and 'union.') Thus, the Talmudic exegesis between scholars becomes a communal effort to search out, identify, and extract the impurities and external elements within the form of legal difficulties. For the Kabbalist, every act, word, and thought performed within this Torah context is literally reconnecting the severed conduits within man's own consciousness and reuniting the Absolute with His own displaced Self, so to speak.

[v] See The Torah as a World

[vi] R. Hirsch (Shemot 12:2) explains that the function of Kiddush ha’Chodesh is to insure that our relationship with Hashem is mutual.

[vii] Based on Sanhedrin 99b and Shabbat 10a we can say that Torah determines metaphysical reality, and that it can change depending on the halakha. See Shiurei Da’at (Darkah shel Torah, R. Elya Meir Bloch).

[viii] Zohar, Acharei Mot.

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