The Secret of Torah Must Be Closed Up and Sealed

by tillerofthesoil

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YHWH’s secret is for those who fear Him (Psalms 25:14).

“As the thigh is concealed, so are the words of Torah concealed” (BT Mo’ed Qatan 16a–b).

“What is meant by [But her trade and her whore’s pay shall be consecrated to YHWH. It shall not be stocked and shall not be stored, but her trade shall be for those dwelling before YHWH, eating their fill, and] לִמְכַסֶּה עָתִיק (limkhasseh athiq), for covering themselves in rich attire (Isaiah 23:18)? This refers to one who מְכַסֶּה (mekhasseh), conceals, things that עָתִּיק (Attiq), the Ancient of, Days concealed. What are those? Secrets of Torah. And some say: This refers to one who reveals things that the Ancient of Days concealed. What are those? Reasons of Torah [lit., Flavors of Torah]” (BT Pesaḥim 119a).

“May your feet run to hear the words of the Ancient of Days” (BT Berakhot 17a).

“Rav Huna in the name of Son of Qappara opened: Let lying lips תֵּאָלַמְנָה (te’alamnah), be silent (Psalms 31:19)—let them be bound, made dumb, and silenced. ‘Let them be bound’—as in the verse, And, look, we were מְאַלְּמִים אֲלֻמִּים (me’allemim alummim), binding sheaves, in the field, and, look my sheaf rose (Genesis 37:7); ‘Made dumb’—as you read, Or who makes him אִלֵּם (illem), mute, or deaf, or sighted or blind? Is it not I, YHVH (Exodus 4:11); ‘and silenced’—as understood. That speak עָתָק (ataq), haughty, against the just in arrogance and contempt (Psalms ibid.)—against the Righteous One, חַי הָעוֹלָמִים (ḥai ha-olamim), Vitality of the Worlds, on matters which הֶעְתִּיק (he’ettiq), which He has covered, from His creatures. In arrogance—in order to be arrogant and say, ‘I expound on the Account of Creation.’ And contempt—to hold My glory in contempt! For Rabbi Yose son of Ḥanina said: Whoever honors himself by disgracing his fellow has no share in the World to Come. How much more so the Omnipresent’s glory! And what is written after it? How great Your goodness that You hid for those who fear You (ibid., 20)—Rav said: Let him have nothing of Your great goodness. When a king of flesh and blood builds palaces on a site of sewers, dunghills, and garbage, if one says, ‘This palace is built on a place of sewers, on a place of dunghills, and on a place of decay does he not disgrace it? Thus, whoever comes to say that this world was created out of welter and waste, does he not disgrace [Omnipresent’s glory]! Rav Huna said in Son of Qappara’s name: If the matter were not written, it would be impossible to say it: In the beginning Elohim created (Genesis 1:1); out of what? And the earth was תֹהוּ וָבֹהוּ (tohu va-vohu), welter and waste (ibid., 2)” (Bereshit Rabbah 1:5).

Wine that gladdens the heart of man (Psalms 104:15). This is the wine of Torah, for יַיִן (yayin), wine, is numerically equivalent to סוֹד (sod), secret [cf. BT Sanhedrin 38a]. Just as wine has to be kept sealed so that it should not be used in a libation for idol worship, so also must the secret of Torah be closed up and sealed, and not be disclosed other than to those who fear Him. And it is not for nothing that several decrees are performed בַּיַיִן (ba-yayin), with wine, and blessings to the blessed Holy One are said with it. Wine comes in ב״ (two) colors: white and red, which are Judgment and Compassion. And this is why we have the added ב (bet) in בַּיַיִן (ba-yayin), with wine [ב (bet) is numerically equivalent to two and alludes to the two qualities of Judgment and Compassion]. It is like the rose which has in it both white and red, white from the right side, and red from the left side.

Why does it say לְבַב (le-vav), the heart, of man? It should have said לֵב (lev), heart? There is one heart [Binah] hidden within another heart [Shekhinah]. They are ל״ב (thirty-two) [iterations of] אֱלֹהִים (Elohim) in the Work of Creation. And the ב (bet) of בְּרֵאשִׁית (bereshit), in the beginning (Genesis 1:1), and the ל (lamed) of לְעֵינֵי כָּל יִשְׂרָאֵל (le-einei kal yisra’el), before the eyes of all Israel (Deuteronomy 34:12) [i.e., the first verse and the last verse of the Five Books of Moses]. Twice לֵב (lev), heart, is sixty-four, which is eight less than seventy-two; [seventy-two is numerically equivalent to:] וַיְכֻלּוּ (va-yekhulu), and were completed (Genesis 2:1). These are the seven days of Creation. What of the eighth [to complete the seventy-two]? The seven days of Creation together with This is the book of the lineage of Adam (Genesis 5:1) [which is also considered to be a day of Creation]. And this seventy-two is also the sum of בַּיַיִן (ba-yayin), ‘with wine’” (Zohar 3:215b, Ra’aya Meheimna Pineḥas, cf. Zohar 2:124b).