Rabbi Herschel Shachter
Rabbi Hershel Schachter


The gemara (Shabbos 105a) points out several places in the Torah where we find roshei teivos (an acronym). Rav Yochanan says that one such place is the opening word of the aseres hadibros - "anochi", which is an acronym for "ana nafshi kesovis yehovis - I have given you my soul by writing down, and giving you, the Torah". Our tradition has it that the Torah is not merely a collection of mitzvos, but by means of a moshol (parable) is a description of Hashem's essence. Maamad Har Sinai consisted of a gilui shechinah not only in the sense that there was a heavenly light shining at the time (see Moreh Nevuchim vol. 1 chapter 64), but also because Hakadosh Baruch Hu "revealed Himself" to us (gilui shechinah) by giving us the laws of His Torah, a description of Elokus - His soul.

Rashi (Parshas Mishpatim, 21:13) quotes the midrash interpreting the phrase (Shmuel 1, 24:13), "hamashal hakadmoni" as referring to the Torah. The entire Torah is a moshol of Hakadosh Baruch Hu, who is "The Ancient One", since He was around before the world was brought into existence. This is the rationale behind the principle of faith, articulated by the Rambam, that the laws of the Torah are immutable. The navi Malachi (3:7) tells us that although everything that was created is always changing, the essence of Hashem never changes. Therefore it follows that since the Torah is a description of the essence of Hashem, the mitzvos of the Torah can also never change. This is also the reason why the opening pesukim in krias shema tell us that the way to develop a love for Hashem is to learn His Torah. When we get to understand His soul better, we can develop a greater love for Him; to the extent that one gets to know Him, he can come to love Him.

Every morning when we recite the special berachos before learning Torah we ask Hakadosh Baruch Hu that by learning His Torah we should all get to know "His name", since the entire Torah is a description of Him, which is the same as "His name". The reason why the chachmei hamasorah included this concept into the text of birchas haTorah is because the entire institution of birchas haTorah is derived (Berachos 21a) from the passuk (Devarim 32:3), "when I mention the name of Hashem, everyone give praise to our elokim", and the chachomim knew that "the name of Hashem" is a reference to the entire Torah[1] [see introduction to sefer Ginas Egoz.]

[1] For further discussion of this idea by Rav Schachter, see the following divrei Torah: Torah and Nevuah,  Ego and Humility in Torah Study,  Interacting Directly With Hashem, and In the Pursuit of Happiness

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