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V'hadarta P'nei Zakein


“‘You shall honor the face of the elderly’ (Leviticus 19:32): [The Hebrew word for ‘elderly,’ zakein, allows for a play on words signifying] he who has acquired [zeh she-kana] wisdom [i.e., Torah knowledge].” (Compare the commentary of Rashi to this verse; also Kiddushin 32b.)

[What is the meaning of the term “acquisition” as applied to Torah? The word] “who has acquired” is [used in the same sense] as in the verse (Jeremiah 2:8), “they that grasp the Torah” – namely, one who grasps [it] in the memory center of the brain and upon the slate of whose heart it is constantly engraved. [In other words, the person has so thoroughly absorbed Torah knowledge, it so pervades his very being, that it is literally ever-present within him.] This is in accordance with the saying of our Rabbis, of blessed memory (Shabbos 114a; Kiddushin 49b), “Who is a talmid chacham [true Torah scholar]? Anyone who, when he is asked [about any] matter of Jewish law, [answers – even if the answer is found in an obscure source].” For then, it is a mitzvah to stand before him even at a time when he is not engaged in Torah [study].

[The reason for this is] because the Holy One, blessed is He, dwells constantly within him, even when he is engaged in worldly matters, since the Torah is engraved upon the cerebral memory center within his soul and upon his heart. And, “the Torah and the Holy One, blessed is He, are entirely One” (see Zohar, end of the Torah portion K’doshim, page 87b).

For this [reason], every good-hearted man whose heart prompts him and whose soul yearns to cleave constantly to Him (blessed is He), and [who yearns] that G-d should dwell constantly within him without any interruption or separation ever, even for one moment, should acquire for himself the Torah in the cerebral memory center of his soul. For then, even if he engages in bodily necessities, the Torah is of the status of “the Hidden Realm” within his soul, for there shines within it [the letter] yud of the [Divine] name Havaye.

That is why, in the Torah portion [beginning] Kadesh Li Kol B’chor, it is written (Exodus 13:9) “and for a reminder between your eyes” – as is known.

And with this [insight], a rationale may be understood for what is written in the Laws of Torah Study in the name of the Sifri: that it is a mitzvah for each and every one to know the entire Torah, consisting of all 613 mitzvos and their specifics, etc. Namely, [it is] to draw the light of G-d upon all 613 faculties of his G-dly Soul, in [all] their particulars.

And [this is] in accordance with what is written (Song of Songs 4:7), “All of you is beautiful, my love, and there is no blemish in you” – [the expression] “all of you” is precise, for also the supernal source of this drawn-down [spirituality] is comprised of 613 [aspects], and is called “Man,” [as in the verse] (Ezekiel 1:15), “And on the likeness of the throne was a likeness of the appearance of a Man, etc.”

[To summarize, we have said that, ideally, one should acquire a thorough knowledge of the entire Torah, for this unites one’s entire soul with “all” of G-d (in a manner of speaking).]

Yet, due to the stress of the times and the shortness of spirit; the [limited] intellect of the [person who would] grasp and the depth of the [material to be] grasped [it is difficult to succeed at the above. Therefore,] in any event, at least one should try to get the strength and fortitude to acquire and to engrave upon the cerebral memory center of his soul, the five books of the Torah of Moshe [Moses], which he wrote from the mouth of the Almighty, for they are the source of all of the Written and Oral Torah in their entirety – as is known [in illustration of this point], that Rabbi Akiva used to expound piles upon piles of laws from each and every calligraphic flourish [of the special Hebrew letters used to write a Torah].

Only, they [the detailed laws of the Torah] are greatly concealed in the Hidden Realm. [Accordingly, one needs to acquire at least some openly revealed Torah knowledge as well.] And from the Revealed Realm – that is, the Oral Torah – in any event, at least, one should acquire and engrave [in the cerebral memory center of his soul] the Order of Kodshim, which is called “Wisdom” in the words of our Rabbis, of blessed memory, and [which] atones for a person’s sins, as the Ari of blessed memory wrote.

(And see what is written on the verse (Leviticus 19:32), “You shall rise before the hoary-headed, and you shall honor, etc.” at the end of [the discourse] beginning with the words (Song of Songs 1:5), “I am black and beautiful.”)

Lo Tov Heyos HaAdam Levado
Mayim Rabim Lo Yuchlu L'Chabos
B'Etzem HaYom Hazeh Nimol Avrohom
Erda Na
Chayei Sara
V'Avraham Zakein Ba Bayamim
Vayachp'ru Avdei Yitzchok
Vayashkeim Lavan Baboker
Vayeavek Ish Imo
VeHinei Anachnu M'Almim Alumim
Ner Chanukah Mitzvah L'Hanicha
Vayigash Eilav Yehudah
Chachlili Einayim Miyayin