Thursday, May 7, 2009

Ramban- What The Torah Can Do For You- Toras Hashem Temima perek 1 siman 2

The Ramban continues his explanation of the greatness of the Torah. He explains,

"We learned in a braisa that Chizkiya bar Chiya said, The words of the Torah are like a crown on a head, a necklace on the neck, a soothing remedy to the heart, a salve for the eye, a compress for a wound, a root-drink for the stomach and it is a cure to the body. It is a crown for the head as it says in Mishlei (1:9) 'It is an ornament of grace for the head.' It is a necklace for the neck like it says in Mishlei (same source) 'It is a necklace for your neck.' It is a soothing remedy to the heart as it says in Tehilim (19:9) 'It gladdens the heart.' It is a salve for the eye as it says in tehilim (same source) 'It lightens up the eyes.' It is a compress for a wound as it says in Mishlei (3:8) 'It is a cure for your navel.' It is a root-drink for the stomach as it says in Mishlei (same source) 'It is marrow for your bones.' It is a general cure for the body as it says in Mishlei (4:22) 'And to all his flesh it is a cure.'"

The Ramban is bringing sources from the words of King David and King Solomon. Why? I think that it could be that since David and Solomon are two people that were well versed in the Torah and they were Kings, we can rely on what they say about the Torah to be true. Also, if someone is constantly being tested and, therefore, needs more guidance than everyone else, that person's advice should be heeded. This is especially true by David and Solomon since we see how successful they were and how righteous they were. If we hope to be even 1/100th as great as them we should listen to what they have to say about the Torah and how it guided them along the right path.

However, why would the Ramban choose this braisa to teach us the importance of the Torah? What are these references teaching us about the greatness of the Torah?

Crown on a head- the pasuk quoted was "It is an ornament of grace for your head." This could be referring to the development of the mind. The Torah is something that helps exercise the mind and hone it in such a way that it greatly benefits. This can be seen from the extensive works that have been made from the Torah like the Mishna, Gemorah, Midrashim and so on.

Necklace- the pasuk quoted was "A Necklace on your neck." This could refer to the idea that you can be proud of your Torah knowledge. A person that is rich with Torah knowledge is confident and happy. They feel confident in their connection to G-D. This is similar to someone who is wearing a nice piece of jewelry around their neck, they feel confident and proud of what is on their neck.

Soothing remedy to the heart- the pasuk quoted is "It gladdens the heart." The heart refers to emotions. The idea here seems to be that someone is cured of a problem when their heart is gladdened. The Torah is something that brings a person happiness. This is because a person who learns the Torah and believes in it feels a sense of purpose and completeness. The Torah teaches man that he is not the ultimate end, but rather there is something other than himself. This gladdens man since to think this is a world of pointlessness is depressing.

A salve for the eye- the pasuk for this is "It lightens up the eyes." Lightening up the eyes seems to refer to opening a persons knowledge up. The Torah allows a person to view the world around him in a different way. One is able to notcie all of the miracles and intricacies that are involved in the every day actions of nature. The Torah allows one to take in that knowledge and realize it is from a higher being.

A compress for a wound- The pasuk for this is "It is a cure for your navel." The pasuk tells us that this cure for a wound refers to an integral wound that is cured. The navel refers to the part of a person that is nourished while in the mother's womb. When a person comes into this world they are severed from their original nourishing source. The only way to reestablish a nourishing relationship is through the Torah. The nourishment of the Torah's knowledge can help a person sustain themselves. The main part of a person is the idea of belief and the Torah gives a person direction of this belief. However, one can believe in many things, so it is important to direct these beliefs in the proper direction.

A root-drink for the stomach- The pasuk for this is "It is marrow for your bones." The marrow for your bones, or the root-drink are things that help fix the inside of your body. The root-drink is something that cures a disease like gonorrhea and the marrow is what produces your bodies defences. This correlates to Torah, because Torah helps one protect their mind and body from detrimental things. Like pointed out before, a person needs to believe in something and that can either be pointless and harmful things or meaningful and helpful things.

A general cure for the body- The pasuk for this is "And to all his flesh it is a cure." This is an overview of everything that was stated previously. Also, this is coming to teach you the all encompassing nature of the Torah. Everything is found in the Torah, all the answers and all knowledge. If one were to search for things in the Torah, they will find the answer. An answer might be to learn science or math, but all proper direction is found in the Torah.

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