We are told in the Kabbalah that God in the Ein Sof, the Absolute Reality, is pure infinite consciousness. How did this Infinite Consciousness become embodied in a finite world? How did this finite creation arise out of an Infinite Creator?
The sixteenth century Kabbalist, Rabbi Isaac Luria (also known as the Ari) provides us with an explanation. The Ari teaches that the limitless became limited, when the Infinite undivided Awareness became self-aware. This was accomplished through the formation of the Divine Mind – that is, by the containment of pure consciousness in a form of differentiated consciousness. The Kabbalah calls this original form the Supernal Torah. It contains all the thoughts, wisdom, knowledge and desires of the Creator.
The source of the Torah is a higher reality that cannot be fully expressed in our space/time world. The Torah is the Word of God which created the universe and which infuses all of creation with purpose. Therefore, the physical Torah that we were given on Mount Sinai can only be a reflection or partial expression of the “Divine Word.” When we read the Torah, we are reading only a small fragment of what is an infinite reality.
The Eitz haChaim, the central text of the Ari’s teachings, states that the source of the Torah is the daat of Atik Yamim, the spiritual center or sefirah of knowledge in the “Body” of the Lord of the World. The author brings as a proof to support his claim, the Talmudic dictum in Tractate Sota 49B: “There is no knowledge [daat] but Torah.” The Torah is a subtle Divine thoughtform stored in the consciousness of the Universal Mind.
The Supernal Torah, however, is not just an abstract concept for the Ari; it is an integral part of the essence of every human being. Each person, the Ari explains, has a letter in the Supernal Torah, which is linked to his shoresh neshama, his soul root. Each of us is a spark of the Divine Mind. Hidden at the center of our being is the wisdom and knowledge of our Divine source. Through deep aspiration in prayer, meditation and mental investigation, we can touch our source in the Supernal Torah and bring the wisdom that is held within our personal supernal letter down into our human consciousness. The more we advance in the spiritual life, the greater the inner wisdom that we can bring through. Initially, we may only get occasional glimpses of that inner knowledge, but when our spiritual life is firmly established, this inner wisdom will become a natural part of our daily life.
In the case of a great spiritual teacher, like Moses, the individual soul has merged with the shoresh neshama or root soul. This soul-infused personality can then tap into all of the knowledge, wisdom and understanding contained within the Divine Mind or Supernal Torah. This unique capacity to access all knowledge and all wisdom explains why it was Moses who brought the Torah down into this physical world. Moses was able to accomplish this lofty task because he was one in soul and mind with the Torah’s Supernal Source.
The Hasidic Master, Dov Baer of Mezeritch, believed that the purpose of all of our spiritual work is to connect us back to this supernal Torah. In Likutei Amarim he writes:
“When a person does a mitzvah, he should concentrate his speech, action and thought – because thereby he will lift up the mitzvah and break it out of its physicality and bring it closer to its source and foundation in the higher worlds.”
The Torah in its essence expresses eternal truths. More than a system of laws, the Torah conveys the fundamental nature of reality, God and life. It is only as it descends to our physical world that it becomes engaged in the details of our physical life. Because our understanding is so physical and limited, therefore the Torah needs to be expressed in similar terms.
Fulfilling the mitzvot is the bottom line of Divine service, but our true goal is to use the physical Torah to expand our mind upward toward the Infinite. Then we will be able to unite with our source in the Supernal Torah , and receive the daat of Atik Yamim, the Infinite and Eternal knowledge of the Absolute.
copyright © 2012, by Yoel Glick