Lag B’omer: The Depths Are Calling to Us

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A generation will arise and live …

Hundreds of thousands of people.

Countless buses.

It’s Lag B’omer.

And seemingly endless throngs of every kind of Jew in the world make their way to Meron.


The Soul of Torah

P’nimiut haTorah, the inner dimension of Torah, is, as it’s name implies, the soul of the Torah. But what does that mean? What actually is the soul of the Torah? The soul of the Torah is nothing less than the actual light, the ohr, of Godliness within the Torah. This means that learning p’nimiut is the deepest way to grasp what we can of, “the One who said, ‘Let there be …’” This is the deepest essence, the deepest root, the soul of the soul: Daat Elokim, knowledge of God.

“For only with this may a person glorify himself—contemplating and knowing Me—I am Hashem …” Jeremiah 9:23

The study of any and every aspect of Torah connects a person to aiyn sof, to the Holy One. As for the dimension of p’nimiut ha’Torah, this draws and connects one to the deep, inner world. It gives one a window into Godliness itself, the soul of creation, and the soul of all people. This inner dimension of Torah is the key to opening up the deepest secrets of existence. It elevates a person such that he has an entirely different perspective, a sanctified perspective, that sees beneath and beyond the superficiality of life—the body and all physicality—to the inner light: The radiant light of Shechina. To perceive the imminence of Godliness in all that exists.

Without the Torah we are deaf and blind. The thick fog of physicality blocks us from seeing the inner reality, the source of life, the sōd beneath the surface of everything. The light of Torah sheds penetrating, illuminating understanding on every aspect of creation; it enables us to see the process through which God created the world, to gaze into the depths of existence, to behold malchut Hashem, and to uncover sparks of God’s presence, present, in everything.

The Gears of Existence

Just like p’nimiut ha’Torah teaches us how God created the world, it also teaches us how He guides the world. It opens up our eyes to the holy, inner workings within that which unfolds in history, beneath our feet, and before our eyes.

P’nimiut ha’Torah is also a remarkable window into our very own inner workings. It brings us face-to-face with our deepest, purest self; our beauty, our souls. It spreads out before us an understanding of the grand reality inherent in every Jew, and of the shared, collective existence of Am Yisrael. Neshama, Jew. Neshama, Jewish nation. A ladder planted in the ground of human life and action whose upper rungs reach to the highest heavens, the highest realms of spirituality.

This understanding, this elevated life perspective, imbues a person with strength and courage, with an understanding of our lofty value and esteem. From there we can draw the ability to meet life’s challenges, to wrestle ourselves upward, higher and higher and higher.

Higher Still, Deeper Still

Torat ha’sōd—p’nimiut—the inner Torah, also reveals for us understandings of the transcendent, layered dimensions of existence above and beyond the created world we are used to thinking about. This is the spiritually crystalline atzilut dimension where God’s pure light is manifest with no filters, no constraints, no tzimtzum.

Immersion in this rarefied Torah—with a commitment to personal purity, tahara, and sanctity, kedusha—is an elevating experience that opens one up to perceiving and connecting to the pristine inner sanctum of one’s soul; to the place where all is clear and good, to the place where no evil exists, where it is obvious that even our confusing world is woven, somehow, of pure light and goodness, and that eventually the clarity of echad, of undifferentiated love and goodness will be apparent for all to see.

When a person prepares himself and strives to grow in kedusha and refinement of character, and after he has substantively devoted himself to niglah, to the study of the revealed Torah, he can then enter the King’s chamber: Nistar, sōd, p’nimiut. There, proceeding carefully, thoughtfully, modestly and humbly, he delves to the depths of his soul and cleaves to the very roots of his being, to the gateway of encountering the grandeur of Godliness. There, cleaving to Hashem, and immersed in the clear perception of aiyn od milvado, that in reality there is nothing other than God, he becomes bound to a loftiness that defies description.

Inner Longing and Inner Torah

Our souls are parched, they are searching and longing for closeness, for a deep connection to God. “Give me from the kisses of your mouth, for your love is more delightful than wine.” (Shir Hashirim 1:2) The neshama can never experience tranquility and fulfillment without closeness to God; without the deep inner knowledge of reality, and without a spiritual connection to His “names”— “We long for Your name, for which You are called.” (Shir Hashirim 1:2) We long and reach: For the glistening nobility of the heavens; expansive, penetrating, other-worldly. “My neshama yearns for the sheltering shade of Your hand, that I may comprehend all Your hidden, mystical secrets.” (From Aniym Zmirot) And, if the hunger and thirst  are left unquenched, then one is left with a hollowness, with a tired inner whisper panting for something more.

The book of the Zohar is the wellspring of p’nimiut, of Torat ha’sōd. From there flows countless tributaries of fresh, life-giving waters that reach every corner of the Jewish world. The Ramban and his disciples, the Ramchal and the Maharal, the Ari, the Vilna Gaon and the world of chassidut, the teachings of Rav Kook and others. The thread that connects all of these is that they were each able to delve into the deep, holy, wellspring of the inner sanctum of Torah—to draw of it’s rich, holy, enlightening depths—and to bring it’s life-bearing wisdom and inspiration to the Jewish nation. They offered, each in his way, the necessary spiritual sustenance that every soul craves. All of them, rooted in that cave on Meron, in the soul that rests there, in Rashbi, Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai.

P’nimiut and Geula

As the ohr ha’geula, the light of our redemption, shines more and more …

As the ohr ha’Shechina gains more and more strength …

So too does the thirst of our souls become more and more intense. We sense the presence of the emerging light, and of the corresponding Torah that accompanies the unfolding geula, step-by-redemptive step. So many are searching for this Torah, for the inner secrets that have pushed there way to the surface of our unfolding history, our lives, the life of Am Yisrael in the midst of it’s journey home: Home to the land of Israel, to Jerusalem, to the Torah of the Tree of Life, to the quenching springs of the deepest wisdom.

A generation will arise and live …

Hundreds of thousands of people.

Countless buses.

It’s Lag B’omer.

And the nation is streaming to the gushing source of the life-giving waters of p’nimiut and Torat ha’sōd.

Because we sense; we sense that this is where we will find what we are so thirsty for …

Days are coming, says Hashem my God, when I will send a famine upon the land: not a hunger for bread or a thirst for water, but for hearing the words of God.

(Amos 8:11)

We anxiously look forward to that which is already on its way. To the time when the earth will be covered with the knowledge of God, when “…My nation will never be shamed again. After that, I will pour out My spirit on all flesh; Your sons and daughters will prophesy; Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see lofty  visions…” (Yoel 3:2-3)

Soon, soon.


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Translated by Shimon Apisdorf