“Hashem spoke to Moshe saying: This shall be the law of the metzora on the day of his purification: He shall be brought to the Kohen.” (Chapter 14, Verses 1-2) The Sages learned from this verse (תורת המצורע) that even someone who has a type of skin blemish and is considered a metzora, or has a type of bodily fluid emission can learn Torah. Rebbe Noson explains that through the holy Torah which Moshe brought down to us we are eternally connected to Hashem. Even someone who has fallen to a very low and distant place from G-d because of his bad deeds, nevertheless he can easily come closer to Hashem again through learning Torah. The Torah descends even to someone who is in the deepest depths of bad spiritual forces and awakens him and brings him closer to Hashem. Even when a person feels spiritually like he’s lost and dead, even he can hear the voice of the holy Torah. This is the aspect of what the Sages said that the words of the Torah don’t receive impurity. Therefore we learn from this that since the day that the Jewish people received the Torah, there is never anything which can cause us to be permanently distant from G-d. We are always close to Him through the holy Torah which reaches down to the Jewish people wherever they might find themselves. This is the main aspect of the giving of the Torah. Rebbe Noson adds that surely there were great Tzaddikim, like Avraham, Yitzhak and Ya’akov who were able to serve Hashem even before the Torah was given. However, since we received the Torah, its light gives every Jewish person the ability to come closer to Hashem. This is the meaning of what Bilaam said in one of his blessings when he wanted to curse the Jewish people and instead his words came out as a blessing: “How goodly are your tents Ya’akov”, (Bamidbar, Chapter 24, Verse 5). Your tents is a reference to study halls and shuls where people learn Torah. Through the Torah the Jewish people are always connected to Hashem and the power of this connection is also what turned Bilaam’s curse into a blessing. (Likutei Halachot, Laws of Leasing and Contract Work, 2nd teaching)
Rebbe Nachman teaches in the book Advice, based on the first teaching of Likutei Moharan, that through learning Torah a person gives strength to the kingdom of holiness, meaning the revelation of G-d as the King of the world, and he gives strength to his soul to overcome his evil inclination. (Torah Learning, 2nd teaching) The Torah gives strength to every person to come closer to G-d from wherever they might find themselves, no matter how far they might have fallen. The Torah connects a person to their soul, which is a part of Hashem and rooted in the Torah.
On a personal level, everyone has a part of the Torah which they connect to in a deeper way. For some people it’s learning Talmud, for others it’s learning Tanach (Bible), and for others it’s learning books about faith and ethics. As I have tried to share and express this year by sharing these parsha articles, based each week on a teaching from Rebbe Noson, I feel a deep connection to the teachings of Rebbe Nachman (and his students). I feel and experience that his teachings are helping me return to myself and to Hashem. When we try to live by the teachings and good advice of the Tzaddikim, who make the deeper parts of the Torah accessible to each person on their level, over time we will start to realize that our lives are changing and developing in ways we never imagined. For example, this week we hosted in our home a workshop and class on the subject of breathing, yes breathing, led by a local student of Rabbi Bezenson, whose book on breathing and its connection to spirituality I mentioned recently in Parshat Pekudei. If someone had told me a few years ago that I would be hosting a workshop like this, and that I would make breathing a daily part of my service of Hashem, I would never have believed them. It was something which I was not aware of at all. When we connect to the light of the Torah through learning it, and especially when we find our special connection with a certain subject or Tsaddik who revealed the inner teachings of the Torah, this helps us return to Hashem and discover new experiences and parts of ourselves which we never knew existed before.
We are now about a week away from the holiday of Pesach. During this time of year there is a powerful energy of renewal with the arrival of spring and the holiday. Every year during the holiday we need to see ourselves as if we too left the slavery of Eygpt, like our ancestors. We can also be freed from our own personal exile at this time, all of those aspects of ‘chametz’ inside ourselves and in our lives which make us feel enslaved. It is a time when we can also renew our connection to the Torah, which gives us the strength to overcome what holds us down and help us return to Hashem. We should all merit this Pesach to feel renewed in our connection to our faith in Hashem and His Torah!
(Image courteous of Chabad.org)