The enigmatic title of this
chapter is a quote from the book called the Zohar. It's
the most famous kabbalistic treatise, and most Kabbalah
that is studied these days is based on it. It is
attributed to a sage from Talmudic times named Rabbi
Shimon bar Yochai (about 170 C.E.)
Israel is the name given
to Jacob, the third of the Jewish patriarchs, when he
wrestled with an angel in Genesis 32:29 (see also
It also refers to the Jewish people as a whole. They
were formed as a people from Abraham's time until Moses,
and were established with God's mandate on Mount Sinai.
In the previous chapter
we discussed the idea of man being a microcosm of the
universe. In one sense everything in creation mirrors
man and vice versa. The point of creation, however, was
just for man, and therefore he has more importance than
all the rest of creation. In the beginning of Genesis,
even though he was created last, man is the central
figure. The universe is the arena in which he fulfills
his divine task. The vehicle to communicate that task is
the Torah. Although the word Torah can refer to the
actual scroll of the Bible, it also refers to the
entirety of God's instructions to man.
There are the written
instructions, which include the five books of Moses, the
Prophets, and the Writings; as well as the oral
instructions, which include the Mishna, Medrash, Talmud,
and Kabbalah. There is a tradition, however, that all of
the oral instructions are hinted to in the written
instructions, which in turn are all hinted to in the
five books of Moses. Therefore our title technically
refers to the entirety of knowledge that is imbedded in
the five books of Moses. As instructions to man, then,
the Torah represents the very will of the Creator. His
will is the closest to Him we can come. It's the next
best thing to God's actual presence, as it says in
Exodus 33:20 "for no man can see Me and live." In this
way we say that God and the Torah are one, as it is the
greatest manifestation or revelation of God we have here
on earth. In the Zohar, the Torah is even referred to as
one long name of God. In a matter of speaking it is His
very words, thoughts, and desires.
If you think about it,
you realize that the creation itself is also an
expression of God as well. He created it. It is His
handiwork, and it has His wisdom all the way through it.
He made the apple pretty to look at, a pleasure to
smell, delicious to eat, and healthy. If one examines
the universe properly one can come to the unmistakable
conclusion that there is a Creator and designer; it
could not have been an accident. Psychologists often
examine great works of art and draw conclusions about
the artist. With the creation, though, God purposely
designed His universe to hide Himself just a bit beneath
the surface. Not only that, but since God's oneness
fills the universe and constantly wills it into
existence, the universe is more like a living
self-portrait with a thin veil to look past.
Man is God's most
important and special creation and thereby the greatest
expression of His will. Man also, as a microcosm of all
creation, is a representation of the whole of God's will
as manifested in the world. So just as the universe and
the Torah are fused and connected with God, so is man.
Yet it is man in his fulfillment of the purpose of
creation that best expresses the presence of God.
Therefore as the Bible forms this nation called Israel
as the embodiment of God's will through history and the
people charged with the task to follow His instructions,
they become as close to the actual presence of God as
you can get as a nation.
In expressing the idea
that God's will to create the universe is embodied in
the Torah, the Zohar states that God looked into the
Torah and then created the universe. Somehow it is the
blueprint of creation. They also say that there are
600,000 primary souls that make up the Jewish people in
any generation. Symbolically, though not technically,
there are 600,000 letters in the Torah. The Torah, the
Jewish people, and God are one to the extent that they
can keep their separate identities and still be one.
Israel, as it lives the principles of the Torah, also
becomes a living expression of God's will in man. They
are the people that were given the instructions, and
they are the ones who are living those instructions.
Israel, the Torah and God are all one.
It must be noted as a
side point at this time that Israel is not an exclusive
club. Anyone who sincerely wants to join Israel by
converting may do so.