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Acquiring Torah 35: Derech Eitz haChaim I: Higher Than the Angels

Man’s Creator and Guide has made and formed him with the capacity to attain greater insight than the Ministering Angels. According to our Masters of blessed memory, He told them that, “man’s wisdom is greater than yours (Berieshit Rabbah 17).” When man desires understandinmg in his own fashion, God allows him to reach, even up to the Highest Heavens, secrets of the world which the Ancient of Days has veiled. Yet, his advantage depends on himself, for he is free to choose either to grow wise and acquire knowledge or to remain stripped of all wisdom despite powers of reasoning. (Ramchal; Derech Eitz haChaim, Paragraph One)


The Nefesh haChaim (First Gate, Chapter 10) explains that an angel cannot comprehend more than what he was given to perceive when he was formed. However, a human being is granted the ability to delve into the secrets of the Torah and through application of his understanding to his studies, can constantly expand his wisdom and perception.

Rav Chaim Volozhin expands on this in Ruach Chaim (6:1): When a person is being creative in his Torah learning he must realize and appreciate that he is accessing a gift from God that is greater than nay received by the angels.

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