ולכן נמשלה התורה למים: מה מים יורדים ממקום גבוה למקום נמוך

Therefore has the Torah been compared to water,1 for just as water descends from a higher level to a lower level,

The water which reaches the lower level is the same water that left its source within the higher level; unlike light, for example, which also travels from its source, but in whose case it is not the source (the luminous body) itself that is transmitted, but only a ray of it; and unlike intellect which can also be communicated from one person to another, but in whose case, too, it is not the source (the teacher’s mind) itself that transmits itself to the lower level (the student’s mind), but only the idea, a product of the source.

כך התורה ירדה ממקום כבודה

Just as we find in the analogy of water, so has Torah descended from its place of glory, i.e., the lofty spiritual plane which is its source.

שהיא רצונו וחכמתו יתברך, ואורייתא וקודשא בריך הוא כולא חד, ולית מחשבה תפיסא ביה כלל

In its original state it is G-d’s Will and wisdom, and “Torah is one and the same with G-d,” Whom no thought can apprehend at all — on that plane, Torah is incomprehensible to man, as is G-d Himself.

ומשם נסעה וירדה בסתר המדריגות ממדרגה למדרגה בהשתלשלות העולמות

From there the Torah has journeyed in a descent through hidden stages, stage after stage, in the Hishtalshelut of the Worlds (i.e., the chain-like order of interconnected spiritual “Worlds”, explained more fully in ch. 2; Torah descended through all these levels —)

עד שנתלבשה בדברים גשמיים ועניני עולם הזה, שהן רוב מצות התורה ככולן והלכותיהן

until it clothed itself in material matters and things of this corporeal world, which comprise nearly all the Torah’s commandments and their laws.

Nearly all the mitzvot involve material objects: tzitzit are made of wool, tefillin of leather, and so on. Even the “spiritual” mitzvot involve material objects in their halachot — the laws governing their practical application. For example, the mitzvah of loving one’s fellow, although essentially a “spiritual” mitzvah, as it consists of an emotion — love, demands that one aid his fellow-Jew materially, financially, etc.; these being concrete, material expressions of a “spiritual” mitzvah.

ובצרופי אותיות גשמיות בדיו על הספר, עשרים וארבעה ספרים שבתורה נביאים וכתובים

Thus, the Torah clothed itself in the material objects with which the mitzvot are performed and also in the physical letter combinations written with ink in a book, namely the twenty-four books of Torah, Nevi‘im, and Ketuvim.

(As mentioned above, the letters and words contain the holiness of G-d’s Will and wisdom.)

כדי שתהא כל מחשבה תפיסא בהן, ואפילו בחינת דבור ומעשה שלמטה ממדרגת מחשבה תפיסא בהן ומתלבשת בהן

Torah underwent this great descent so that every human thought be able to grasp them, and so that even speech and action, which are on a level lower than thought, be able to grasp them (— G-d’s Will and wisdom) and clothe themselves in them — by performing the commandments in speech and action.

ומאחר שהתורה ומצותיה מלבישים כל עשר בחינות הנפש וכל תרי״ג אבריה מראשה ועד רגלה

Now, since Torah and its commandments clothe all ten faculties of the soul, and all of the soul’s 613 “organs”, from head to foot, i.e, from its highest level — its “head” — to its lowest level,

הרי כולה צרורה בצרור החיים את הוי׳ ממש, ואור הוי׳ ממש מקיפה ומלבישה מראשה ועד רגלה

it the soul is truly completely bound up with G-d in the2 “bond of life,” and the very light of G-d envelops and clothes it from head to foot.

כמו שכתוב: צורי אחסה בו, וכתיב: כצנה רצון תעטרנו

So it is written:3 “G-d is my Rock, in whom I take refuge” (and naturally, only that which surrounds a person can protect him); and it is further written,4 “As with a shield G-d’s Will surrounds him,”

שהוא רצונו וחכמתו יתברך, המלובשים בתורתו ומצותיה

meaning His Will and wisdom that are clothed in Torah and its commandments.

We see, at any rate, that although G-d’s wisdom and Will are beyond man’s reach, they are made accessible to him because the Torah is clothed in physical terms, and its commandments are vested in physical objects.