When the Baal Shem Tov was a youth, he worked as a school-teacher’s helper. His job was to take young children from their homes and escort them to the schoolroom in the morning. With love and care, he made take each one from his home, kissing and hugging him, imbuing him with warmth and joy.

His successor, the Maggid of Mezritch, once said: “I wish that in the height of the Simchah Torah celebrations, I will be able to kiss a Torah scroll with the depth of feeling with which the Baal Shem Tov would kiss those children every morning.”

Parshas V’Zos HaBerachah

This Torah reading contains the verse: “This Torah which Moses commanded us is an inheritance of the congregation of Jacob,” the verse a child is taught as soon as he learns to speak.

There are two seemingly conflicting concepts communicated by this verse: On one hand, every Jew, even the most simple and unlearned, should realize that he has a connection to the Torah; it is his inheritance and like an inheritance, he becomes its owner without any effort on his part. Simultaneously, even a diligent scholar who labors in Torah study should comprehend that the new insights he grasps are not totally his own achievements. Instead, all that has happened is that he has taken possession of his inheritance. It was there waiting for him and now, he has made it his.

Both for every individual — and for our people as a whole — the revelation of the Torah has been gradual. Glimmerings are granted at one point in time and the full revelation comes afterwards. Although the entire Torah was given to our people at Sinai, over the centuries, new and different dimensions have been revealed.

What is the key to these concepts: The Zohar tells: “G‑d, the Torah, and Israel, are all one.” G‑d invested His infinity into the Torah and into the Jewish people. Thus the intellectual dimension of the Torah does not define it. Beyond the dimension that our minds can perceive lie many layers of deeper and more fundamental truths and, ultimately, a G‑dly truth that is truly unbounded and incomprehensible by human understanding. Moreover, these layers are not garments that hide the Torah and must be shed to tap its inner truth. Instead, they serve as handles to enable a person of less developed intellectual and spiritual resources to develop his connection to the Torah. G‑d is to be found equally in the verses recited by a young child, a law recited by a beginning scholar, and the most sophisticated concepts grasped by a seasoned sage. For G‑d’s essence is invested in every dimension of the Torah and its study enables us to connect with it and give expression to the G‑dliness within our hearts.

Since the soul of every Jew is “an actual part of G‑d,” unlimited as G‑d is unlimited, he shares a connection to all these levels of Torah. As stated above, it is his inheritance. The different stages of development he undergoes throughout his life reflect his efforts to internalize these truths, teaching his conscious mind to be aware of the spiritual resources latent in his soul. Slowly, level after level, he aligns his understanding with his inner G‑dliness, taking possession of his inheritance.

This is the first Torah concept taught to a young child. At the very beginning of his development, this essential truth is communicated to him in a capsulated, seminal form and throughout his life it unfolds, lifting him up level after level into the realization of his spiritual potential.

Looking to the Horizon

A similar motif applies to the Jewish people as a whole. At Mount Sinai, we were given the essence of the Torah. But like children, our people were not ready for it. And so began, generation after generation of spiritual exploration and growth as our people labored to take possession of their Torah inheritance and align their lives with it.

The culmination of this process will be in the era of Mashiach when: “I will place My Torah within them and I will write it onto their hearts.... They will no longer teach — each man his fellow and each man his brother — saying ‘Know G‑d,’ for all will know Me, from their smallest to their greatest.”

For this reason, Mashiach’s coming will not represent the giving of a new Torah. Since the Torah is essential G‑dly truth — there is no way it can be replaced or improved upon. Instead, in that era, we will appreciate the Torah’s G‑dly core and see it realized within our own beings.