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Princes of Torah and Mules

By Tzvi Fishman
1/26/2009, 12:00 AM

There are people of little faith amongst us, who, out of their personal neurosis, and lack of understanding, ridicule the secrets of Torah, upon which the entire Torah stands. Some call themselves professors and teach university courses on Biblical Criticism. Others write poisonous talkbacks and try to draw people to heretical websites, much like missionaries and Jews for Jesus. Perhaps, to judge them in a positive light, they do so in reaction to phony Madonnas and their Svengali maestros, but when they negate all of the secrets of Torah and belittle the great masters of Kabbalah throughout the ages, lovers of G-d and fearers of His Name, this heresy cannot be condoned.     

It has already been pointed out on this blog that there are four levels to the Torah, the Pashat, the Remez, the Drush, and the Sod. These four levels are known as “Pardes,” meaning orchard, from the initial letters of the levels, P-R-D-S. If someone rejects the level of Sod, which are the secrets of the Torah, the remaining initial letters are P-R-D, or “Pered,” which means a mule that cannot reproduce. Thus King David prays in his Psalms, “Be not like a horse or a mule that have no understanding” (Tehillim, 32:9).  These poor souls belong to the spiritually and intellectually castrated amongst us, who have no understanding or sensitivity to the most splendid beauties of the Torah.

"Don't be like a horse or a mule."

It has never been the intention of this blog to promote the mass study of Kabbalah, which can only be learned with the guidance of a serious Torah scholar, seeped in the mysteries, and by serious students of Torah who dedicate to themselves to a stringent course of moral refinement and the love and fear of G-d.    

However, no Rabbi of any worth will deny the legitimacy of the Kabbalah and the plethora of teachings that can be gleaned from the holy Zohar. From the time of our Forefathers down till our day, the greatest of Rabbis, the princes of Torah, cherished the teachings and traditions of Kabbalah, from the Prophets of Israel to Rabbi Akiva, Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, the Ramban, the Maharal, the Arizal, Rabbi Haim Vital, the Ramcal, the Gaon of Vilna, the Baal HaTanya, the Baal Shem Tov, Rebbi Nachman of Breslov, Rabbi Yaacov M’Emden, and a long long list of other holy scholars.

Rabbi Kook

Rabbi Avraham Yitzhak HaKohen Kook, who taught us to see the Redemption of Israel unfolding in our times, was a master of Halachah and Kabbalah, two facets of Torah which go together, hand-in-hand, like the Jewish People and G-d. Regarding the book of the holy Zohar, ridiculed and rejected by the mules, Rabbi Kook writes that it is precisely the teachings of the Zohar that will luminate our path to Redemption (Orot, Orot HaTechiya, 57):

“Now, when the final salvation is imminent, and the demand of seeking the light of G-d, of seeking exalted spiritual redemption, of streaming to G-d and his goodness, increases and grows. Now, the times require acquiring the inner Torah, whose holy visions cannot begin to be heard but by the ascent of the soul and the exaltation of its strength in the light of the highest, purest life. A growing number of righteous Jews whose hearts have been touched by G-d, from this Divine camp will come the power that gives grace, the light of life and the pride of greatness to the entire inner life force of the national renaissance in the Land of Israel. The Book of the Zohar, which breaks new ways, making a road in the desert, a path in the wilderness, it and all of its teachings are ready to open doors of Redemption. ‘Since the people of Israel are destined to taste of the Tree of Life, which is the Book of the Zohar, they will emerge from exile with mercy’” (See Zohar, Vol. 3 124B. Translation of Rabbi Kook by Bezalel Naor from his translation of “Orot”).

These are the words of Rabbi Kook, a true prince of Torah. In conclusion, my dear friends, I hope you will listen to the princes of our holy Torah, and not to the mules.

Chodesh tov!