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Four Stages in Torah Learning

Four Stages in Torah Learning


You shall teach them thoroughly to your children, and you shall speak of them when you sit in your house and when you walk on the road, when you lie down and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:7)

Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, offered a very insightful cosmic explanation of this verse. When learning Torah, there are several levels and there are several stages. At every stage of a person’s existence, Torah is part of it.

When you are sitting at home” is the status of the soul above, prior to its descent below into this physical world. There, in heaven, the soul sits before G‑d and constantly learns Torah.

Alternatively, the verse could be interpreted as the status of a person in the womb, which may also be called “sitting at home.” When a woman is pregnant, the Talmud tells us, the child in the womb is taught the entire Torah. Moreover, “a candle is kindled above its head, and it sees from one end of the world to the other.” The first stage in the verse thus refers to the period of a person’s life, before he is born, when he is wholly and totally occupied with learning Torah.

The next stage, “when you are going on the road,” refers to the time when the soul descends from the world above to the world below, from level to level, until it enters a physical body in this lowly world. Here, through Torah study in this world, it learns how to progress (“walk”) in spiritual matters, and even in material matters when they are for the sake of Heaven. This is not really the natural place of the soul, whose real habitat is above. When the soul is born into a body, it has to learn to deal with a new world and nevertheless remain faithful to G‑d. This is the mission of the soul here in this world.

As the soul leaves its heavenly abode and is born in the earthly sphere, it must go through a number of descents. At each level, it is taught the Torah as appropriate to that level. Once the child is born in this world, you must start teaching him, “In the beginning G‑d created . . .” That’s a much lower level than it was capable of learning before it was born. So the Torah then has to be adapted to the soul in a body. But the end result of the soul’s descent into this world, where it learns the Torah of this world and does the physical commandments, is that the soul achieves an ascent to beyond the level where it stood prior to its descent into this world. The descent is for the sake of a much greater ascent.

The next stage is “when you lie down.” This is the day on which a person’s soul is recalled to its supernal realm, when he lies down in his grave.

When a person dies, nothing material that he acquired in this world goes with him. His house, his car—he leaves it all behind. Nothing that he amassed in his earthly existence goes into the grave. But his Torah and his good deeds do accompany him.

While the soul is in heaven, it is learning Torah.

The next stage—“And when you rise up”—referring to the era of the resurrection of the dead. This too, is one of the fundamentals of our faith. No matter how long one has been in his grave, they will awaken with the Resurrection at the time of Moshiach. Then, the Torah will again be on a totally different level. There won’t be all of the limitations that make it so difficult for us now to learn Torah.

Why is it so hard for us to learn Torah now? Because we have so many other things on our minds. How can we sit all day and learn Torah? We just don’t have the time or the ability, or there’s so much else that’s distracting us. When Moshiach comes, all of these other things that are weighing us down and preventing us from truly concentrating—even just the idea of physical tiredness and all the other things that are hindrances to true Torah learning—will not be problems in the times of the Moshiach.

In addition when Moshiach comes, the Midrash states that “a new Torah will come forth from Me,” which means that all of the secrets of the Torah which had been hidden for all the years of exile will be revealed. In other words, not only will we be different, but the Torah itself will be of a much, much deeper and clearer and higher quality than anyone has ever known. May it be speedily in our days.

By Nechoma Greisman, based on the teaching of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory.

Nechoma Greisman was an educator, counselor and speaker who reached thousands of women through her classes and books. Tragically, at the age of 39, hours after giving birth to her tenth child, Nechoma was taken from this world, leaving an enormous and irreplaceable loss to Jews worldwide.
Sefira Ross is a freelance designer and illustrator whose original creations grace many pages. Residing in Seattle, Washington, her days are spent between multitasking illustrations and being a mom.
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Chaim ben Avraham Netherlands August 19, 2016

Very inspirational I've always considered these verses about covering all aspects of our daily lives, i.e. from dusk to dawn, resting or active, at home or elsewhere.

This adds a truly new dimension. Reply

Esther Flores ohio July 30, 2013

wow Awesome....totally different level. Reply

Anonymous Sydney, Australia July 31, 2012

Awesome! Awesome insight! Thank you! Reply

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