Posted on March 30, 2023 (5783) By Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein | Series: | Level:

This is the Torah of the olah. It is the olah that stays on the flame on the altar all night till the morning…The fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it. It shall not be extinguished.[2]

With the light of the six days of creation, Man could see from one end of the world to the other.[3] After his sin, this light was hidden, sequestered away for tzadikim in the future. This means that the primordial light was fully revealed and available, till Man transgressed the will of his Creator. From that point on, it was concealed within the Torah.

Our Torah scrolls record that “Hashem Elokim made garments of עור/skin for Adam and his wife.”[4] R. Meir’s, according to Chazal,[5] read “garments of אור/light.” This is difficult to accept at face value. A sefer Torah that transposes one letter for another is invalid. Can it be that R. Meir’s sefer Torah was pasul?

Rather, the text in R. Meir’s scroll was exactly like ours. But R. Meir was also called Nehora’i – the one who enlightened the Chachamim in halacha.[6] His Torah, i.e. his Torah instruction, was so enlightening that it allowed people of his generation to find the ohr ha-ganuz/the hidden light that took up residence within Torah. He was able to get past the covers that shielded it, and expose it to view.

“This is the Torah of the olah.” There is Torah, and there is Torah of the one who is oleh, who rises above its plain meaning, and reaches the ohr ha-ganuz within. When he does, he indeed sees from one end of the world to the other. Present and future are all the same there. This is how Moshe Rabbenu was able to observe R. Akiva (who lived many, many centuries after him) holding forth on the crowns of the letters of the Torah.[7] With access to the ohr ha-ganuz, time did not separate events. They were all exposed and visible. Moshe saw event of the future as if they were happening around him.

One who studies Torah without reaching the ohr ha-ganuz within can become a lamdan and an expert in halacha. But he will have restricted himself to the letters of the Torah, not to what is beyond then. This is not the ultimate purpose of our learning. Rather, we should strive to get to a place where the ohr is not shrouded in layers of cover. There, the primordial light shines with the same intensity as it did before Man’s transgression.

This is not to make light of the significant impact of Torah even when a person does not achieve its ultimate purpose. Torah is always an “olah:” it allows a person to rise higher so that he can successfully battle his yetzer hora. Through it, a person can achieve devekus with Hashem, Who is resident within it. He can even repair what was ruined in the past. Therefore, it “stays on the flame on the altar all night till the morning.” It elevates the darkness of night, and turns it into morning.

  1. Based on Meor Einayim by R. Menachem Nochum of Chernobyl
  2. Vayikra 6:2,5
  3. Chagigah 12a
  4. Bereishis 3:21
  5. Bereishis Rabbah 20:12
  6. Eruvin 13b
  7. Menachos 29b