Chapter XV

In addition to the reasons for the necessity for studying P’nimiyus HaTorah mentioned in ch. 13 - i.e., that it leads to the love and fear of G‑d - this study also benefits the study of Nigleh, the revealed dimension of Torah law, for P’nimiyus HaTorah is the soul of the external legal dimensions of the Torah, as stated in the Zohar, Vol. I, Parshas Bereishis, p. 26b, commenting on the verse: 1 “And from there it becomes divided.” [The Zohar states:]

Four who entered the Pardes: 2 One entered via the Pishon, i.e., “the mouth of he who reviews Torah law.” 3 One entered via the Gichon, these are the allusions [of the Torah]. 4 The third entered via the Chidekel , a name which can be divided into the words chad and kal meaning “sharp and light,” referring to [the Torah’s] language which is pointed, and easy to [express] in Derush.

The fourth entered via the Euphrates, which is the mind. 5

Ben Zoma and ben Azzai who entered via the husks (kelipin) of the Torah were stricken by them. Rabbi Akiva entered via the mind; about him it is said:7 “He entered in peace and departed in peace.”

(The Mikdash Melech explains that the expression “the husks of the Torah” refers to “the meaning of the Torah as it is expressed in the halachos and the derashos. Rabbi Akiva, by contrast, entered via the mind, i.e., [the Torah’s] mystic secrets. This can be understood...”; note that text.)

The entire passage from the Zohar should be contemplated, including its conclusion on p. 27b, [referring] to the verse: 6 “And G‑d took the man...”; see the comments [of the Mikdash Melech] on this.

Thus the external dimensions of the Torah, its revealed portion, can be termed the garments of the Torah, and P’nimiyus HaTorah is its soul. Just as the soul conveys life to the body, so too, P’nimiyus HaTorah conveys vitality to the external dimensions of the Torah. Thus when a person studies P’nimiyus HaTorah, he will feel vitality in his study of Nigleh; he shall “live in them.” 7 And when the study of the Torah is infused with vitality, it is directed toward the proper intent.

When, by contrast, a person does not study P’nimiyus HaTorah, his study of Nigleh is like a body without a soul, like a dead body without any vitality. Therefore, his intent for which he studies is also not desirable.

This [concept] is also reflected in the statements of the Tikkunei Zohar (Tikkun 30):

We have learned: On the verse: 8 “And the spirit of G‑d hovered over the waters,” it was asked: What is meant “the spirit...”? Until those who make the Torah dry (yabashah) - [for] they do not desire to apply effort to the wisdom of the Kabbalah - retire....

For without P’nimiyus HaTorah, the Torah becomes parched, without light and energy. For the vitality stems from P’nimiyus HaTorah. See also what the Zohar, Vol. I, Parshas Bereishis, p. 33a, states with regard to the word (yabashah) “dry land”: “Why is it called ‘dry land’? Rabbi Yossi says: ‘It is written: 9 lechem ani “the bread of poverty,” yet is pronounced lechem oni, “the bread of oppression.” ’ ”

Similar concepts are found in the Tikkunei Zohar (Tikkun 20) which states: “’Dry land,’ i.e., it is dry and impoverished, i.e., before the union. Afterwards, it is written: 10 “And G‑d called the dry land, ‘earth,’” for it became filled with influence from the level of yesod.” See also the statements of the Kehilas Yaakov, entry Yabashah.

The concept is explained thoroughly in the Introduction by R. Chayim Vital to the Shaar HaHakdamos which was cited above. [This text] is filled with the blessings of G‑d, with holy words, fitting to the one who authored them. This introduction was also published in the Warsaw printing of the Etz HaChayim. (Since both the Shaar HaHakdamos and that printing of the Etz HaChayim are not that popularly available, I will also reprint this Introduction. 11 It is fitting that it be accessible among you and that you deliberate over it thoroughly, [for] you will find good [in it.])

This is the concept of “the path of life,” 12 which refers to P’nimiyus HaTorah which is the Tree of Life. And when [one possesses] “the path of life,” then one can draw down “the candle of mitzvah and the light of the Torah”17 as explained above in ch. 2. For through the Torah and its mitzvos we draw down the revelation of the Or Ein Sof. When a person possesses “the path of life,” he “lives in them,” his involvement in the Torah and its mitzvos [is characterized by energy and vitality].

Synopsis: [This chapter] adds that P’nimiyus HaTorah is like the soul to the external dimensions of the Torah which can be compared to the body. [P’nimiyus HaTorah] endows [the external dimensions of the Torah] with vitality.

[When one possesses] “the path of life,” P’nimiyus HaTorah, then he can draw down “the candle of mitzvah and the light of the Torah.”