Monday, May 5, 2014

Floor & Ceiling

The 18th Century Jewish mystic and theologian, Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzatto wrote a book, named "The Knowing Heart", which is setup as a dialogue between the soul and the intellect. In this book, the soul asks the intellect to enlighten her on certain important questions of faith. For years, I wondered why the intellect is setup in this work as enlightening the soul and not the other way around - namely, the soul enlightening the intellect.

Last night, I began to restudy the work with a new study partner and he answered  me very nicely:

Since there is some version of the Torah exists in all realms, spiritual and earthly, souls and angels also study Torah. When studying Torah in the earthly realm, we often encounter teachings which refer to matters outside of our experience. In some cases, we can still explain them logically. In other cases, the matters referred to are so spiritual that they're above the ceiling of our mental capacities, requiring us to accept these teachings on faith.

In the spiritual realms, when a soul studies Torah there are plenty of teachings that are outside of the soul's experience as well. Some of these teachings can be absorbed by the soul when she mentally reaches out to them. This not only applies to teachings referring to matters in higher realms, but also to teachings referring matters in lower realms - as they too are outside her experience. If the teachings are too far beyond her experience, they can defy the reach of either her mental floor or ceiling, requiring her to take them on faith. Unlike us, the soul not only applies her faith to what's higher, but also to what's lower. So strangely, it can turn out that the soul takes on faith earthly matters that we know of logically or by direct experience, requiring her to enlist the help of an earthbound mind to understand. Of course, this best occurs when the earthbound mind is properly tuned in spiritually - fostering the connection and dialogue.

Interestingly, a prominent Rabbi in my community offered a simpler but probably just as valid possibility to explain why  the intellect enlightens the soul in the “Knowing Heart”. He explained that the intellect here, is the intellect which is alive within the Torah. The Torah herself communicating ideas to teach the soul.

Chodesh Tov U'Mivorach!  

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