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Acquiring Torah 31: Rashbi: Drinking with Delight

When Rabbi Abba was studying with Rabbi Shimon, the latter once arose at midnight to study Torah, and Rabbi Elazar and Rabbi Abba rose with him. Rabbi Shimon discussed the verse, “As a hind pants after the water-courses so my soul pants for You, O Lord(Psalms 42:20).”


“Fortunate are Israel,” he said, “for that God gave them the Holy Law and caused them to inherit holy souls from a holy place, that they might keep His commandments and delight themselves in His Law. For the Torah is called a “delight,” and this is what is meant by the saying that God comes to delight Himself with the righteous in the Garden of Eden, meaning, to regale Himself from the very same stream as the righteous. And whoever studies the Torah is privileged to delight along with the righteous from the waters of this stream.

“So we are told here that the, “hind,” the Community of Israel, pants for the water brooks to receive a drink from the sources of the stream at the hands of the Righteous One.

“What are these sources? One is above, of which it is written, “And a river went forth from Eden to water the Garden,” and from there it flows forth and waters the Garden and all the streams issue from it and meet again in two sources of Netzach and Hod, and these pour forth water into that grade of Tzaddik, which goes forth from there and waters the Garden.

“Observe that the soul and the Ruach are inseparable. We have learnt that the perfect service offered by man to God consists in loving Him with his soul and his Ruach. Hence, it says, ‘With my soul I have desired You and with my spirit I seek You early.’” (Zohar III 67b-68a)

One need only delight in his Torah study as a drink of life to drink from the same waters that nourish the Garden, the righteous who are there, and God, Who drinks with them and rejoices in their delight.

The first drink of delight awakens the soul’s desire for a connection to God, so that it pants for the loving relationship. The soul’s panting with desire stirs the Ruach’s search for God, the Source of the delight of Torah.

Our ability to find delight in Torah comes from God’s gift of the soul. The joy we find in Torah is our soul speaking to us, and igniting our passion for a connection with God.

“Please, God, our Lord, sweeten the words of Your Torah (Blessings of the Torah),” Please allow us to find the sweetness of delight and drink the sweet waters of Eden.

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