Based on a Naaleh.com shiur by Rabbi Eliezer Miller
How can we come closer to Hashem? How can we connect to the heavenly spark within us?
The basis of the connection between the Jewish people and Hashem is the Torah symbolized by the tablets that were hidden inside the ark. There were two keruvim (angels) atop the ark in the shape of a male and female. The male signified Hashem and the female symbolized the Jewish people. It was there that the Divine Presence rested.
The Maharal writes that the Torah bonds a person to his Creator more than anything else. When a Jew studies Torah, Hashem is there with him. The Torah joins a person to the tree of life and his portion in this world and the next depends on it. The Torah gives life to the Jewish people and to the world. The Nefesh Hachaim writes that if there would be a minute where no one would be learning Torah or keeping mitzvot, the world could not continue to exist.
The Meor Enayim points out that the mitzvot are meant to bring us to a level of “U’vo sidbak” – to cleave to Hashem with the part of Him that rests inside of us. Mitzvah comes from the root word zevot-a team. When we do mitzvot we join with Hashem and achieve closeness to Him.
The Torah says, “V’lo sosuru achrei levavchem.” Chazal say that a person who goes after his heart denies Hashem. The Chofetz Chaim explains that a Jew who doesn’t keep mitzvot but claims that his connection to Hashem is in his heart, will come to heresy. It’s like two people who hold a rope and shake it. Each can sense the other but it’s not a true connection. We need to feel Hashem inside of us, that we are like one, but a real bond can only form when we keep the Torah and mitzvot.
Hashem said, “Ko somar l’beis Yaakov v’tagid l’bnei yisrael.” Ko somar refers to the woman and v’tagid refers to the men. Why were the women mentioned before the men? Chazal explain that women are obligated to make every effort to enable their sons to study Torah. As a reward they merited to experience the giving of the Torah. The Maharasha asks, women also have mitzvot of their own. Why shouldn’t they have been at matan Torah? We see that the awe inspiring experience of matan Torah was only out of respect for the learning of Torah.
The Yesod V’shoresh Avodah writes that man’s main purpose is to serve Hashem and to create a nachat ruach (spiritual pleasure) for Him. We do this by fearing and loving Him and especially by learning Torah.
The Midrash Rabbah in Shemot brings the verse in Mishlei, “Ki lekach tov nasati lachem…” Hashem says, “I sold you the Torah and I sold myself with it.” This is comparable to a king who had an only daughter. When she married he told her husband, “Wherever you go, make for me a little place that I can come and dwell there, because I cannot leave her.” The Midrash says, Hashem told klal Yisrael, “I gave you the Torah. I can’t separate from her. So wherever you go make for me a home so I can dwell there. The Sefas Emes writes that the more a person tries to do Hashem‘s will, the more the Divine Presence rests inside him.
The Yefei Toar explains that Hashem doesn’t rest his Shechina in this world only through the Torah. Chazal point out that we say, “Ki lolam chasdo” 26 times. For the first 26 generations, Hashem hadn’t given the Torah yet and there was no reason for the world to exist. Yet he kept the world in motion out of his kindness.
It says, “Barasi yetzer hara barasi Torah tavlin.” (I created the evil inclination and I created the Torah as an antidote.) The Torah oppresses and breaks the evil inclination which in turn brings the Shechina to dwell inside our hearts.