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The Penetrating Torah

Written by Rabbi Yehoshua Alt, 29/6/2019

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 The Penetrating Torah

It is through Torah that we can pierce through our heart of stone (block to spirituality).[1] This is how we can explain what we say in ובא לציון- הוא יפתח לבנו בתורתו, as through Torah our heart of stone can get opened. Then as it continues there- וישם בלבנו...- we can be imbued with אהבה, יראה and to do His will and serve Him wholeheartedly. This is illustrated in the story with R’ Akiva with each drop of water piercing through the rock-[2] since אין מים אלא תורה.[3]


The שארית מנחם notices that if we spell out the word טמא- that is טית ממ אלפ- and add it up we come to a total of 610. תורה  has a Gematria of 611. This alludes to the fact that Torah overcomes impurity.[4] We find a similar idea by the פרה אדומה, where it says זאת חקת התורה;[5] this is the decree of the Torah, not זאת חקת פרה אדומה. The Rokeach makes a comparison: just as the פרה אדומה purifies those who are טמא, so does the Torah.


As is known we were on the 49th level ofטומאה  in Mitzrayim. If we would have been lowered to the 50th, it would have been the point of no return. However, as the Ohr Hachaim[6] tells us, that is only because we didn’t have the Torah yet. Once we received the Torah we can be on the 50th level ofטומאה  and still exist.
R’ Alt merited to learn under the tutelage of R’ Mordechai Friedlander Ztz”l for close to five years. He received Semicha from R’ Zalman Nechemia Goldberg. R’ Alt has written on numerous topics for various websites and publications. He lives with his wife and family in a suburb of Yerushalayim where he studies, writes and teaches. The author is passionate about teaching Jews of all levels of observance. 

[1] See Yechezkel  11:19, 36:26

[2] The water fell onto the rock daily eventually piercing through it. This spurred him to start learning, as he didn’t learn until age 40 (Avos Drebi Nosson 6:2). The simple meaning is that although it was little water, it still penetrated through the rock. It is said from R’ Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld the following: It was because of the the little water daily that it penetrated the rock, as if the sum total of all water was poured into the rock in one shot, it wouldn’t have pierced the rock.

[3] Taanis 7a. Torah has the power to transform a person. This explains whyשנה  means to learn as well as to change- as in שינוי. It is for this reason that the Parsha of Matan Torah is in Parshas Yisro- a convert who had the greatest son-in-law one can hope for. 

[4] Being called up to the Torah is referred to as an עליה since Torah elevates us. 

[5] Bamidbar 19:2

[6] Shemos 3:8

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