The soul-body analogy is not just a nice metaphor. It is meant quite literally and evokes the very nature and relevance of Jewish mysticism.

On the human level, the soul is `unique, altogether pure, concealed, abides in the innermost precincts of the body yet permeates and pervades the whole body and sustains it.' It is likewise with the soul and body of the Torah: the mystical dimension is unique, concealed, altogether pure, abides in the innermost precincts of the Torah yet permeates and pervades its totality, and in a quite real sense sustains it.

The Torah has been compared to various things, including water, wine and oil. All these comparisons are not poetic devices but related to practical principles. In our context, water, which is essential to life, signifies the Torah as a whole. Wine and oil are liquids which are contained and concealed within grapes and olives respectively, thus signifying the `concealed part of the Torah,' the soul of the Torah. The Talmud notes already that the numerical value of yayin (wine) is the same as that of sod (secret; mystery). Oil, in turn, gives life and light to the world, just as the soul to the body.

Oil signifies distilled essence. This renders it distinct and separate from everything on the one hand, while also pervading everything on the other. Thus oil does not mix with other liquids: even when mixed with ever so many liquids, it rises to the surface above them. At the same time, while other liquids remain static and will not spread about, oil does spread itself throughout, penetrating and pervading everything.

This nature of oil is also the nature of pnimiyut haTorah - the soul and mystical dimension of Torah - shamnah shel Torah - the `oil of the Torah.' For it, too, is essence, the essence of Torah: distinct and separate on the one hand, yet pervasive and penetrating on the other. This is of quite practical consequence.