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The Real Torah

Editor's Note: In order to understand this scripture, one must first understand the word Torah. Many people associate this word Torah only with a few Hebrew writings, primarily the books of Moses and the Prophets (also called The Old Testament), yet the meaning of the Hebrew word Torah is far deeper.

Torah: (Hebrew תורה) Literally, teaching, instruction, or law. This word is synonymous with the Sanskrit word Dharma.

Thus the real Torah is not any book or writing, it is the teaching itself. This is described in the sacred book called Sepher ha Zohar...

Rabbi Simeon says: "Woe to the man who says that the Torah came to relate stories, simply and plainly, and simpleton tales about Esau and Laban and the like. If it was so, even at the present day we could produce a Torah from simplistic matters, and perhaps even nicer ones than those. If the Torah came to exemplify worldly matters, even the rulers of the world have among them things that are superior. If so, let us follow them and produce from them a Torah in the same manner. It must be that all items in the Torah are of a superior nature and are uppermost secrets.

Come and behold: the world above and the world below are measured with one scale. The children of Yisrael below correspond to the lofty angels above. It is written about the lofty angels: "who makes the winds his messengers" (Psalms 104:4). When they descend downwards, they are donned with the vestments of this world. If they had not acquired the dress for this world, they would not be able to exist in this world, and the world would not be able to stand them. And if this is so for the angels, how much more so is it for the Torah that created these messengers and all the worlds, that exist due to her. Once it was brought down to this world, if it had not donned all these covering garments of this world, which are the stories and simplistic tales, the world would not have been able to tolerate it.

Therefore, this story of the Torah is the mantle of the Torah. He who thinks that this mantle is the actual essence of the Torah and that nothing else is in there, let his spirit deflate and let him have no part in the world to come. Therefore, david said, "open my eyes, that i may behold wondrous things out of your Torah" (Psalms 119:18); that is, look what lies under that garment of the Torah.

Come and behold: there is a dress that is visible to everyone. The simple people, when they see a person dressed beautifully, who appears to them distinguished by his clothing, do not observe any further. They make their judgments about him according to his distinguished apparel and they consider the dress as the body of man, and the body of the person like his soul.

Similar to this is the Torah. It has a body, which is composed of the commandments of the Torah that are called the 'body of the Torah'. This body is clothed with garments, which are stories of this world. The ignorant of the world look only at that dress, which is the story in the Torah, and are not aware of anything more. They do not look at what lies beneath that dress. Those who know more do not look at the dress, but rather at the body beneath that dress. The wise, the sages, the servants of the loftiest king, those that stood at mount Sinai, look only at the soul of the Torah, which is the essence of everything, the real Torah. In the destiny to come, they are destined to look at the soul, the soul of the Torah.

Come and behold: it is also like that above. There exists an apparel, a body, a soul, and a soul for the soul. The heavens and its legions are the apparel, and the congregation of Yisrael, which is Malchut, is the body that receives the soul, which is the splendor of Yisrael, meaning Zeir Anpin. Therefore, Malchut is the body of the soul, since Zeir Anpin is donned with her, like the soul in the body. The soul that we mentioned, which is the splendor of Yisrael, is the actual Torah, meaning the soul of the Torah at which the sages look. It is the soul of the soul that is the ancient Holy One, on whom they will look in the destiny to come, as mentioned. Everything is held one by the other. The holy atika is dressed in Zeir Anpin, and Zeir Anpin is dressed in Malchut, and Malchut is dressed in the worlds briyah, yetzirah, asiyah and all their legions.

Woe to those wicked who say that the Torah is merely a story and nothing more, for they look at the dress and no further. Praised are the righteous, who look properly at the Torah. Wine lasts only if it is in a jug. Similarly, the Torah does not endure, except in this mantle. Therefore, there is no need to look except at what is beneath the mantle. That is why all these matters and all these stories are garments.

Excerpted from Sepher ha Zohar, 39. Beha'alot'cha 12