Torah (slightly mispronounced terra) in Latin, is the Land that is the inheritance of the People of Israel.
In order to understand Torah properly, this description of a virgin tract of land from the Talmud is important to know:
“Virgin soil” is one that had never been cultivated, the practical issue being its designation as “a rough valley”. Our Rabbis taught: What is meant by a virgin soil? One which turns up clods and whose earth is not loose. If a potsherd is found in it, it may be known that it had once been cultivated; if boulders, it is undoubtedly virgin soil. – Tractate Niddah 8a.
The Jewish consciousness encounters Torah as virgin soil. It is uncultivated. It has boulders in it. It turns up clods.
This is how Torah appears to the Jewish mind upon encountering it and it is the state in which Torah is capable of being translated, and even then imperfectly.
This is the reason that Torah in translation looks as rough and forbidding as it does. It is a tract of wholly virgin land, uncultivated – a rough valley.
It is the “rough valley”, not the Mines, that are hidden deep in the Ground, beneath the boulders, in which every precious jewel and element will be found and not The Garden which will eventually be planted and from which every magnificent fruit will grow, which can be translated, and even then poorly.
Is it any wonder that those who know no Hebrew see a very rough and forbidding terrain indeed? Torah is not meant for them. Torah is The Land of Israel meant for the People of Israel.
Other Peoples have their own inheritance and they will rejoice in them. But Torah is for the Jews and the Jews alone.
In Hebrew, and only in Hebrew, we begin to decompose the Torah as it appears to us in our first encounters.
We begin to break through the boulders. We push them aside. We grind them to finer dust. We dissolve them with our tears.
In English this is sometimes called “deconstructing the Text”, but decomposing is a better term and we shall see why soon.
When we hit the hard, craggy, steep and arid areas in Torah, we are not meant either to abandon the tract of Land that we have been given as too much bother, or be so foolish as to attempt to plant in a boulder or a gulch. We begin to mull over the passages in our minds and we ask God to help us understand them in a finer way than first appears to our consciousness.
As we decompose the composition of Torah, as it appears to our consciousness, our Body, the seat of our consciousness, of course, responds to the thoughts and emotions that are going through our minds and hearts as we encounter the Text and grapple with it.
In this way, our Bodies become refined as well.
If we labor assiduously enough and for a protracted amount of time, we will eventually reduce the terrain of Torah to its constituent elements. If we are able to do this, we will see that we are also able to recompose the Text, and thus our consciousness, and thus the World that proceeds from our consciousness in accordance with our will, because if we have reached the elements from which Torah is built, we have reached “the ground of being”, the “field”, and our will is one with the Will of God.
Though what I am about to write will sound macabre to many, the wise will understand this correctly and will rejoice.
The decomposition of the surface of Torah in our minds, and the reaction of our Bodies to this process is one and the same with the decomposition of a corpse that has been buried. At first, it is stiff and cold, unyielding and unresponsive, only very, very dimly aware.
After a while the surrounding earth begins to impact on the corpse. As the Body decomposes, it breaks down into the earth and becomes one with it. The borders between the body and the earth are erased and they become one and the same.
This is exactly the gradual process of becoming one with The Field, the Ground of Being – with God and those who dedicated their lives to becoming Holy and making God’s will their own in every generation.
This is the highest level of Oneness with God – the Soul ascends to God and becomes One with God and the Body intermingles with the Bodies of the Holy Ones who have become One in The Field. The Heavens above and the Earth below are Unified.
Happy are those who reach this level of Unification with God – in Soul and in Body, even as they live.