Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Universality of the Torah

The Rebbe [Rabbi Nachman of Breslov] went on to say [of the great mystics, the Baal Shem Tov and the Ari]: “What nobody ever notices is that all their revelations only concern Asia [Minor]. All the events discussed took place only in Asia. Yet the truth of the matter is that the Torah contains an account of everything in the Universe. There is nothing which the Torah does not speak about. [1] Thus, we find Germany mentioned in the Torah. [2] It is just that the Torah does not make an entire story out of everything. At times, things are mentioned only to be ignored subsequently. Only where the Torah wants to does it give us the whole story, as in the case of Laban etc. Nevertheless, the Torah contains allusions to everything; it is just that the sages of former times only revealed what concerned Asia. Yet, the truth is, many nations existed in other parts of the world even prior to the revelation of the Torah. At the time the Torah was given, there were many faraway nations who had knowledge of the Giving of the Torah through communications routes which existed then. Thus, the state of Saxony had been in existence even before the days of Abraham. Hungary, too, was a very ancient country, and the same goes for other countries outside Asia. However nothing is said about these countries. The places which are mentioned—Egypt and so on and “these eight” that Milkah bore—are all in Asia. Yet the Torah contains allusions to all things because Moses had knowledge of everything.

The Rebbe went on to say that all the events which take place in this world contain allusions to things of the highest order. Nothing in the world is without significance. The world is never still for a moment. There is constant movement and change, and every single detail has a meaning. But, it is no more than the faintest hint in relation to the Ein Sof the Infinite. [3] Nothing in the world is more than a faint allusion in relation to what will be in the future, when the renewal of the world comes about.

The Rebbe then said that everything that happens is merely “working a thin thread of metal” in relation to the Infinite. The Rebbe spoke at length about this, but it is impossible to explain it in writing because we are dealing with very exalted matters concerning the mysteries of God’s dealing with the world. Those who heard these things from the Rebbe directly could perhaps have a glimpse of an understanding of the import of his words, even if they could not really grasp them fully. (Rabbi Avraham Greenbaum, Tzaddik, Breslov Research Institute, pp. 275-276, which is a translation of Rabbi Noson Sternhartz, Chayei Moharan, sec. 280. Source references noted here are also by Rabbi Greenbaum.)

[1] See Zohar 111, 221a; cf. Ta’anit 9a; Chullin 139b.

[2] The name Ashkenaz in Genesis 10:3 is traditionally accepted as a reference to Germany.

[3] See Etz Chaim, Drush Igulim v’Yosher, 5; Cf. above, sections 240, 243.